Nigerian scam: a brief history

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The Nigerian scam (also called “419” or “advance fee fraud”) is, I was surprised to discover via Snopes, a very old one:

The Nigerian Scam has been emptying the pockets of victims for decades, first through letters, then with faxes, and now via e-mail. In its earliest incarnation, which dates to the 1920s, it was known as ‘The Spanish Prisoner’ con. In that long-ago version, businessmen were contacted by someone trying to smuggle the scion of a wealthy family out of a prison in Spain. But of course the wealthy family would shower with riches those who helped secure the release of the boy. Those who were suckered into this paid for one failed rescue attempt after another, with the fictitious prisoner continuing to languish in his non-existent dungeon, always just one more bribe, one more scheme, one more try, away from being released.

The typso are intentional

Who is falling for these scams? The website for London’s Metropolitan Police says it’s not who you might expect:

The letters are often littered with spelling mistakes and bad grammar. This is a deliberate ploy by the fraudsters to induce the potential victim to believe that he is dealing with uneducated people who would not have the ability to defraud him/her. Nothing could be further from the truth! The majority of victims prove to be professional business people, doctors and lawyers.

Low success, high yield

The 2006 Internet Crime Report, prepared by the National White Collar Crime Center and the FBI, shows that the Nigerian scam accounts for a small percentage – just 1.7% – of reported total dollar losses due to cybercrime, but that seems to be a function of a few people losing a lot of money. The median loss for someone tricked by a Nigerian scam is $5,100, seven times greater than the median dollar loss for other referred cases of fraud, including auction fraud, failure to deliver merchandise or payment, and check fraud.

Spin-offs

The Nigerian scam is so popular it has engendered a new cyber-sport called scambaiting. The goal is to “enter into a dialogue with scammers, simply to waste their time and resources”, as well as to entertain fellow scambaiters with the resulting correspondence, photos, and recorded phone conversations.

A Recent Parody

I AM MINISTRY OF THE TREASURY OF THE REPUBLIC OF AMERICA. MY COUNTRY HAS HAD CRISIS THAT HAS CAUSED THE NEED FOR LARGE TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF 800 BILLION DOLLARS US. IF YOU WOULD ASSIST ME IN THIS TRANSFER, IT WOULD BE MOST PROFITABLE TO YOU.

Read the rest of the spoof here.

Read more about offline security,phishing

2 Comments »

  1. Comment by Lahrichi Noureddine — 27 December 2008 @ 4:43 am

    RE: Lotto Payment Verification Form‏
    From: Gray Armstrong ([email protected])
    Sent: Sat 12/27/08 9:53 AM
    To: [email protected]

    1 attachment(s)
    MY ID.jpg (21.9 KB)

    Dear Sir.

    How are you doing today? I presume fine, well it is rather surprising that you do not get this. I am in the best position to inform and advise you on the proceedings regarding this transaction. I have worked pretty hard to ensure the progress we have made so far. Being that we have approved your payment, I need you to know that you are fully responsible for any expenses that we may incur in the process.

    I do not see any reason why you cannot make the payment for the courier charges(1,000 Euro) which is needed to further and conclude this transaction. The delivery of your funds(Fifteen Million USD) to the mailling address you have given to us is of utmost necessity and you cannot achieve this if you do not offset the cost of delivering your won prize to you.

    There is no way the board of directors here in London can be responsible for the delivery of your funds to you and the courier company(WedLock Courier express) who is incharge of the delivery of your funds to the address you have given to us will not effect this delivery without you paying for the said cost of delivery charges which is needed to facilliate the delivery of your funds, I do not see any reason why you cannot be obligated to pay for the cost of delivery charges(1,000 Euro). I am forced to have a rethink and I am presently wondering if you are indeed the real Beneficiary for this funds. If yes, then where is your commitment??

    I strongly suggest that if we must carry on and have this transaction concluded for your mutual benefits, then i would advice you to go ahead and pay for the said courier charges needed to facilliate the delivery of your prize to you.

    I will remain positive that you will do the needful to enable you finalize this transaction and achieve your goals. Please note that your funds its protected with a hard cover of an insurance policy which makes it impossible for it to be used by any individual except by you the rightful beneficiary and also due to stringent policies laid down by International Gaming Board regulations and the Games and lotto Payout Subcommittee, we are unable to process the delivery of your prize by deducting from your prize money or any other alternative. These policies have been put in place to check previously experienced cases of funds mishandling and/or misappropriation and we are obligated to act in line with them.

    Furthermore,this charges cannot be deducted from your prize Funds also because,there is a hardcover insurance covering your prize Funds and as such no deductions of any kind can be made on your prize Funds.

    Considering the fact that, we cannot process your prize Funds of €10,000,000 (Ten Million Euros) equivalent to $15,000,000.00 (Fifteen Million USD) without the required fees, we will advise that you immediately arrange for the required Delivery charges.

    We will not be able to assist you otherwise.Therefore you are advised to act fast to save your winning.

    I would advice you to go ahead and pay for the said delivery charges needed to facilliate the delivery of your funds(Fifteen Million US Dollars) to your mailing address you have given to us. But if you think we do not exist you can just go and forget this transaction for i am an honourable man and i am not here to deceive or convince you over this mutual issue of your own benefit.

    I am a citizen of Britain, i cannot deceive or confuse you to do contrary beyond what you intend doing, so attached to this email is my ID.

    Note that i will be forwarding your award winning certificate to you, once it has been approved by the board of directors of the lottery company.

    Thanks for your anticipation and we await your positive response to this e-mail and proof that you have paid the said courier charges.

    ——————————————————————————–
    Life on your PC is safer, easier, and more enjoyable with Windows Vista®. See how

    MY ID.jpg

  2. Comment by Lahrichi Noureddine — 27 December 2008 @ 4:49 am

    FUNDS RELEASE INSTRUCTION FROM HSBC BANK UK‏
    From: Jerry Morale ([email protected])
    Sent: Sat 12/27/08 6:15 AM
    To:

    FROM THE DESK OF MR. JERRY MORALES
    DIRECTOR, FOREIGN OPERATIONS DEPARTMENT
    HSBC BANK PLC
    8, CANADA SQUARE,
    LONDON, UK
    Our Ref: HSBC-0XX2/482/08

    Attention: Honorable Beneficiary,

    IMMEDIATE PAYMENT NOTIFICATION VALUED AT US$5.5 MILLION

    It is my modest obligation to write you this letter in regards to the authorization of your owed payment through our most respected financial institution (HSBC BANK PLC). I am Mr. Jerry Morales, the Director, Foreign Operations Department, HSBC

    Bank Plc, UK. The British Government, in conjunction with the US GOVERNMENT, WORLD BANK, UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION on foreign payment matters, has empowered my bank after much consultation and consideration, to handle all foreign payments and release them to their appropriate beneficiaries with the help of a representative from Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As the newly appointed/accredited International Paying Bank, we have been instructed by the World Governing Bodies, together with the Committee on International Debt and the Board of Foreign Winnings, Inheritance and Contract Review Panel, to release

    your overdue funds with immediate effect; with this exclusive Vide Transaction No.: WHA/EUR/202 and Transfer Allocation No.: HSBC/X44/701LN/WGB/GB, Password: 339331, Pin Code: 78569, Certificate of Merit No: 104, Release Code No: 0876; Immediate HSBC Telex Confirmation No: -222568; Secret Code: XXTN014.Having received these vital payment numbers, you are instantly qualified to receive and confirm your payment with the United Nations immediately within the next 48hrs.

    Be informed that we have verified your payment file as directed to us, and your name is next on the list of our outstanding fund beneficiaries to receive their payment before the end of this first term of the year 2008. Be advised that because of too many funds beneficiaries due for payment at this first quarter of the year, you are entitled to receive the sum of Five Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (US$5,500,000.00) only, as part payment so as to enable us pay other beneficiaries. To facilitate the process of this transaction, please kindly re-confirm the following information below:

    1) Your full Name and Address:
    2) Phones, Fax and Mobile No. :
    3) Profession, Age and Marital Status:
    4) Copy of any valid form of your Identification:

    Upon our receipt of the above mentioned information, your payment will be processed and released to you without delays. Be also informed that you are required to discontinue further communication with any other person(s) or office so as to avoid distortion of data; you are required to provide the above information for your transfer to take place through Bank to Bank Remittance directly from HSBC Bank. Your prompt response to the above directive is highly imperative

    Yours truly,
    Mr. Jerry Morales
    The Director, Foreign Operations Department
    HSBC Bank Plc, UK.

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