An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Chain Letters for Microsoft cash and the Nigerian Scams!!

Nigerian scams of asking to help out in diverting huge amounts of funds in return for a commission is a very popular one! It has been going on for quite some years. The emails have started appearing from Europe and Asia now with the same pretexts! These con artists are so good that I read a story where one FBI agent – who was investigating them says he really felt like parting with his money when asked skillfully by the Nigerian con guy! Here is an article of how a Massachusetts psychotherapist fell for the Nigerian e-mail scam.

How do they get your email addresses? Remember those emails where you are told that Microsoft will give you cash rewards? Or those emails with prayers that you need to forward to as many people as you can? Hmmm… all those dummies that keep doing that.. make it pretty simple for such con artists to build a database of emails of gullible people without much effort 😉

His only question was how Mbote had found him, and he seemed satisfied with the explanation: that the South African Department of Home Affairs had supplied his name. When Worley attributed this improbable event to God’s will, Mbote elaborated on the story to say that Worley’s name was one of ten that he had been given, and that it had been pulled from a hat after much prayer by someone named Pastor Mark. (A more likely possibility is that his e-mail address was plucked from an Internet chain letter, which he received and passed on, that promised a cash reward from Microsoft to anyone who forwarded the letter to others.)

The scheme is not a new one at all.. variants of this, it seems, stem from Europe historically! And the pay backs to those skillfull Nigerians? read on…

Every swindle is driven by a desire for easy money; it’s the one thing the swindler and the swindled have in common. Advance-fee fraud is an especially durable con. In an early variation, the Spanish Prisoner Letter, which dates to the sixteenth century, scammers wrote to English gentry and pleaded for help in freeing a fictitious wealthy countryman who was imprisoned in Spain. Today, the con usually relies on e-mail and is often called a 419 scheme, after the anti-fraud section of the criminal code in Nigeria, where it flourishes. (Last year, a Nigerian comic released a song that taunted Westerners with the lyrics “I go chop your dollar. I go take your money and disappear. Four-one-nine is just a game. You are the loser and I am the winner.”) The scammers, who often operate in crime rings, are known as “yahoo-yahoo boys,” because they frequently use free Yahoo accounts. Many of them live in a suburb of Lagos called Festac Town. Last year, one scammer in Festac Town told the Associated Press, “Now I have three cars, I have two houses, and I’m not looking for a job anymore.”

And guys.. this is not just a money spinning internet game! The crimes dont stop here.. they go on to much more.. kidnapping and even Murder.. .because the victims – or “Marks” as they are called – are enticed to go over to Nigeria for the deals… and of course the Nigerian Government has done precious little!

Marks are often encouraged to travel to Nigeria or to other countries, where they fall victim to kidnapping, extortion, and, in rare cases, murder. In the nineteen-nineties, at least fifteen foreign businessmen, including one American, were killed after being lured to Nigeria by 419 scammers. Until recently, Nigerian officials tended to blame the marks. “There would be no 419 scam if there are no greedy, credulous and criminally-minded victims ready to reap where they did not sow,” the Nigerian Embassy in Washington said in a 2003 statement. The following year, Nuhu Ribadu, the chairman of Nigeria’s Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, noted that not one scammer was behind bars.

So how much money could these guys fleece? Here is an interesting case of a Brazilian Banker and his loss!!

Last November, however, Ribadu’s commission convicted two crime bosses who had enticed a Brazilian banker to spend two hundred and forty-two million dollars of his employer’s money on a fictitious airport-development deal.

So next time you get one of those chain letters to send the prayer to your contacts because it will bring good luck (or not sending will bring bad luck!).. or one of those where Microsoft will give you money.. make sure you just delete that email.. .or you will be “Marked”… and pursued by these con artists!

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