27 March 2005

The Nigeria scam spreads

About 10 years ago, the bunko artists in Nigeria - the oil-soaked country is actually one giant criminal wasteland, but that is another story - came up with a brilliant scam: write to people claiming to be a bank representative seeking to get some phantasmagorical sum out of Nigeria. All they need is your bank account number, branch and address, a specimen signature, your full name and address and some of your official letterhead if that is something you have.

In exchange, they promise to send you tens of millions of dollars.

What they do is drain your account since they have all the necessary bits.

The scam is so old now I doubt there are people who haven't heard of it. The con types stopped using paper a long time ago and now use e-mail to flip their messages around the world.

Here are the latest variations I found in one e-mail inbox of mine:

- Gina Gloria Bello - claiming to be an Afghan woman whose husband was killed in the war on terror. The interestingly named "Afghan" woman, who name sounds more like an Italian porn actress-cum-member-of-parliament than a farsi-speaking widow, supposedly has US$25 million stashed away that she wants to turn over to charity. My personal favourite Bello remains Maria. She starred alongside Mel Gibson in the movie Payback, which as we all know is a mother.

- one Cheung Pui of the Hang Seng Bank claiming to have $24.5 million belonging to a former Iraqi army officer. In order to subvert laws whereby this money will become property of the Hong Kong government (Hong Kong doesn't have its own government as such), I need to send this guy some paperwork so I can be made the next of kin for one Major Fadi Bassem. This one is so widespread, I am just gonna link you to the results of the google search using "fadi bassem".

- A Senator Gwarzo from Nigeria wants assistance in smuggling US$45 million in exchange for which I will get 30% of the gross. He claims to know Sani Abacha, the former president of Nigeria. He knows him so well in the e-mail Gwarzo claims Abacha is currently in power; the late General Abacha is dead. This particular scam is so old there is a website in its honour.

- MR.YANG CHEN,managing director of Hebei Metals & Minerals Import and Export Corporation (HMMIEC) wants me to be his agent in North America. There is a website for the company, whose rep is one Jacky Chan. Interestingly, the website lists no street address for the company. They might be legit. - Maybe Danny Williams would like to put these guys in touch with local business developers like he did with another Chinese company with a definitely shadey bunch of associations.

- Anthony Tunde of Nigeria who wants to squirrel away about US$27 million.

- Oko William and his US$36.8 million. This guy wants my passport photo too.

- Someone named Queensley Rhoda who advises I have won US$2.5 million with some lottery tickets.

All of these were sent to an e-mail address in the name of "horridlm", as in Horrid Little Man, a nick-name I picked up a long time ago.

Obviously, I know these offers are all legitimate ones since they weren't just sent to anyone on an e-mail list.

And for those in the trivia business, the name of the Mel Gibson character in Payback is the same as the guy who sent me the link to sign up for that particular e-mail account. He didn't tag me with the horridlm name; a mutual friend did. Porter just thought it was appropriate.