Original Fiction






This is index page for the various scams I've been sent. I'm concentrating on one specific type of scam: the ones which used to be called the "Nigerian" or "4-1-9" or "Advance Fee Fraud" scams.

Why am I doing this? Well, in part it comes from the response I received when I posted the first one of these on my Livejournal. I got two anonymous responses from people who thanked me for putting up the text of that particular scam, one of whom had been hooked by it. It made me think about the nature of these scams, and the willingness of people to believe what they're sent. So I decided as a resolution for 2007 that if I received one of these, I'd post it on my LiveJournal as a public service. (Update 29 JAN 2007: I'm still getting responses to that first post - it's the one which purports to be from Seek on this list).

Please note that I'm sticking with a few rather distinct variants of this scheme. I'm not going to bother with the bank account phishing, eBay phishing, or PayPal phishing versions, or the wonderful ones which tell you that you've just won a lottery you didn't even enter. (If you've been collecting variants of these, why not put them up on your own site?) This is partly because I'm picky (and I figure that if you can't detect those scams, it's your problem) and partly because I have a limited amount of time I'm willing to dedicate to this kind of thing.

I've decided to archive them here, simply because having them all in the one place makes it easier for people to find them, and makes it simpler for me to keep all the information together.

If you've received one of these sent under a different user name, or with a slightly different wording, let me know. Forward me the email (with the full headers), and the words "Attention Meg: Scam Variant" at the beginning of the subject line.

I'm not the only one who mentions these. The nice people at Snopes.com have a page about it too.

These are listed by the name of the person I received them from. I'll list any alternate names on the main page with the letter itself. (The number in brackets is the number of iterations of each particular version I've received)

Peter Smith (15) Delores Newton (2) Seek Jobsearch Engine (1)
Dr David Bryan Ellis (6) kimbangala@yogikimbangala0.orangehome.co.uk (1) Hilary Langa (1)
Dr Gregory Kwesi (1) Thersa Grout (1) Halbert Juma Delmar (1)
Staff (1) a1200@web2mail.com (aka "Albert") (5) Mr Wesley Muyeke (1)
TERRY GORDON (3) Richard D Green (1) Mr Wilson Baka (1)
Andrew Malkovich (2) Scottish Textiles Personel Dept (1) Oldtechz (1)
Meghann Morris-Luck (1)    

How to tell it's a scam:

There are several very easy indicators to whether or not a particular email is a scam. The easiest, and simplest, is this:

"If something seems too good to be true, it is."

What this means is that the sorts of opportunities being offered in these scams are too good to be true. There are legitimate ways and means of obtaining all of the aims these scammers purport to have. If there is no next-of-kin in a deceased estate, there are generally legal rules which cover what is to be done with the proceeds (quite often, such an estate goes into the hands of the government). If a company or individual is looking for a way to invest in a foreign country, they will go to an investment broker, or advisor of some variety. If an investment advisor, stockbroker, lawyer or similar is looking for a way to invest in a foreign country, they are much more likely to start out by doing a little research in the financial sector for that country. If a company wants to diversify into a foreign country and is worried about currency exchange, they'll generally speak with their bank. If there is a dying person wishing to give most of their worldly wealth to a religious charity, they will tend to speak with their pastor, or their lawyer. In none of these cases is the best means of obtaining the desired result to send out an email or letter to a random person, and hope they'll be willing (or able) to help.

The second reliable indicator (in my experience) is that the majority of these letters are written in very poor English. Given that a lot of them purport to be from professional people, and that the standard of English teaching in most non-English speaking countries is a lot better than that in most English-speaking countries, it is unlikely that a professional person in such a country will have such a poor command of the language. By writing in such poor English, the scammer intends to play on a known prejudice which exists in most white, Anglo-Celtic people, and also in the majority of people raised in Western cultures - that against the foolish foreigner. The foolish foreigner is someone who thinks they are clever, but isn't - and their poor grasp of the English language is used as an indicator. Don't let your prejudices overrule your common sense: the person who wrote this is intelligent enough to try to bilk you.

The third reliable indicator is that the wording of the email is very general. It's aimed at reaching the largest number of potential "marks", and as a result it cannot be written too specifically. Think about why you would have received this email, rather than about the offer itself. If there's nothing special about you, then why should you be singled out for this sort of thing?

This work is copyright Meg Thornton 2003 - 2007. All rights reserved