Nigerian Letter Scams

Most of you have heard of these scams and are smart enough to stay away from them.  But there are a few out there every year that fall for them.  Here's one that was sent to the editor of this blog (no kidding) this week:


I hope you are having a nice week.

Quite acknowledged is the fact that you may not have prior knowledge of me, but I am compelled to make this contact in order to establish a beneficial and cordial relationship.
My name is Vijay K. Rahul; 27 years of age and currently residing in scotland, United-Kingdom. I got your email information through Internet public records while searching a contact list for a reliable associate. I feel I would be freer dealing with someone outside my region.

My foster brother and I are co-executors/administrators of our father's estate by the Letters Testamentary issued by probate and we are interested in building a business relationship with you and directing our soon to be accessible accumulated fund in excess of 6 digits into a viable line of business under your stewardship based on your expertise. Due to surrounding circumstances, we cannot handle it ourselves. The sum in total was generated through contracts pay-off and commodities trading. We shall share from the gross after successfully moving and re-profiling. Then, we can map out an investment agreement.

As we work out modalities for the eventual transfer, you are required to participate as our foreign partner in this business arrangement. We would be glad to furnish you with further details. Also, it may be necessary for us to meet in due course based on the procedure for successfully completion.

Kindly consider this proposal and respond at your earliest convenience.

Vijay Rahul.

Notice the tip-offs to the fact that this is a scam.  First, the guy claims to be in the UK, but his English is far from the King's English.  Second, the promise of something for nothing.  This is the way most of these scams begin.  A couple of people (out of the tens of thousands who received it) will respond to the email, and they'll slowly be baited in.  “Vijay” is sure to run into some unexpected expenses transferring the money, and he'll ask you to wire him some to help.  First, just $20, then $50, then maybe $100.  Eventually, he'll try to get you to send him your life savings while promising an enormous return on it.

These kind of scams have been around for centuries.  The original is called the Spanish Prisoner scam.  Basically, the letter says that a wealthy person has been imprisoned in Spain under a false identity and needs to raise money to secure his release, but can then reward those who provide the money lavishly.  The wealthy prisoner needs to keep his identity secret, thus the need for the intermediary (the scammer.)  They became more popular in the early 1980s in Nigeria after the oil-based economy took a dive.  Several unemployed university students started contacting businessmen in Nigeria interested in shady deals.  The offers spread to businessmen in other countries, and eventually to the general public.  The advent of mass email in the 90s made it much cheaper for these folks to harvest email addresses and spread the scam wider and wider.  This scam is also known as 419 Fraud, after the article in the Nigerian Criminal Code covering fraud.

Just hit delete.  Or, if interesting in toying more with them, do what this guy does.