A new chapter
September 21, 2002 3:32 PM   Subscribe

A new chapter in the nigerian letter fraud most recently discussed here. Yes, someone actually fell for it, and cost her employer $2.1 million in the process. via fark.
posted by Grod (22 comments total)
via fark
Curse this mac keyboard.
posted by Grod at 3:35 PM on September 21, 2002

Every element of this story is a damn shame. The firm is out an ungodly sum of money, the woman who was stupid and irresponsible enough to do this will be considered lucky to possibly avoid jail time and merely never work anywhere in this country again, let alone avoid committing suicide after the amount of taunting and coverage her actions are going to get in the next week or so, and to top it all off the fucks in Nigeria have, with one successful scam of this magnitude, both justified and bankrolled their ability to continue (and improve) their pursuits for the next several decades.

That said, maybe a big company losing so much money like this will actually raise more interest among U.S. businesses to aggressively control these actions. You'd like to think in some sick little Hollywood mentality that if some clerk at Microsoft or Viacom's accounting office allowed ten of millions of dollars to be stolen they'd have their own elite team of half-man/half-robot soldiers firebombing whoever pulled this scam on them by morning. Excuse me, I have to go play HalfLife some more now.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:52 PM on September 21, 2002

Comments about naievete and religion, about religion and ethics, about ethics and lawyers...so many places one could start when responding to this.
posted by tpoh.org at 4:23 PM on September 21, 2002

Those damn Nigerians should try TextAds. I bet they'd be more profitable - I hear the conversion rate is phenomenal.
posted by Hankins at 4:52 PM on September 21, 2002

Of course she's gullible. What? You think she said to herself, "Hey! I'm no dummy; this here's that Nigerian scam. I think I'll send over some of my employer's money because I'm too smart to fork over my own money to those liars"

She got suckered. She just happened to be in a position to "front" somebody else's money instead of her own life savings. That doesn't make her smart, that just makes her yet another breathtakingly stupid criminal.
posted by stefanie at 6:02 PM on September 21, 2002

Every time I receive or read about the Nigerian money scam offer, I shudder with dread; waiting for the day that an friend or family member falls for it. Everyone would be well served to remember what Joe Mantegna's character said in "House of Games" -
"It's called a confidence game. Why? Because you give me your confidence? No, because I give you my confidence."
posted by GriffX at 6:35 PM on September 21, 2002

It just amazes me that someone that gullible and dishonest can get access to millions of dollars, while I, a smart and honorable person, don't have two nickels to rub together. What a world.
posted by RylandDotNet at 7:40 PM on September 21, 2002

heh. lovely expression RylandDotNet. I'll be sure to make note of that one.

foolish woman.
posted by spidre at 7:49 PM on September 21, 2002

Nigerian scammers make great pen pals. Since the last discussion, if I have a moment, I send electronic greeting cards between their addresses.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:36 PM on September 21, 2002

It's funny, I just got one of those e-mails tonight, my first ever. My favorite bit of this story is how the bank blithely ignored the confirmation procedure for wiring such huge sums of money. I hope they get the pants sued off them.
posted by gametone at 10:51 PM on September 21, 2002

Incredible. Who knows when she received the fax, but according to the article, she embezzled the money "between February and August" (which would have to refer to 2002, considering the timing of the discovery and the fact that those dates weren't qualified by year), yet one simple internet search of "Dr. Mbuso Nelson" would have revealed the scam immediately. At least one warning was issued as early as July, 2001.

I realize that not everyone uses the internet as a tool as automatically as most of the people here do, but if one is considering embezzling two million dollars at the behest of an unknown individual, it does seem that the idea would eventually occur you.
posted by taz at 1:24 AM on September 22, 2002

just one more thing: these sorts of swindles are responsible for the loss of at least $100 million annually in the US alone (I've seen reports in the billions, worldwide, but I hope these were aggregate numbers), and they are basically very unsophisticated scams, relying almost entirely on the single most potent persuader in the con artist's bag of tricks - the greed of the victim. These sorts of scams have always existed, but email has made it possible to spread an unimaginably large net that continues to pull in an amazing number of fish. It frightens me to think what more sophisticated scams could accomplish on this large scale.
posted by taz at 1:58 AM on September 22, 2002

Hilarious conversations with scammers
posted by Joeforking at 6:39 AM on September 22, 2002

Excellent. Thank you Joe!
posted by taz at 7:27 AM on September 22, 2002

And more: Conversations with a Nigerian Bank Scammer.
posted by swerve at 10:55 AM on September 22, 2002

the single most potent persuader in the con artist's bag of tricks - the greed of the victim

Taz, you hit the nail on the head. Is anyone else besides me astonished that she is only facing 3 years? Are churchgoing criminals somehow less guilty? Why does it seem like there are a lot more excuses for someone who steals $2 million than someone who steals $200?
posted by fuzz at 1:12 PM on September 22, 2002

"Comments about naievete and religion, about religion and ethics. . ."

I never cease to be amazed at the readiness of mefites to jump on a throwaway line about someone being "active in her church" as an invitation to infer that religion has something to do with either dishonesty or gullibility. Or, for that matter, with the severity of her punishment.

Shall we dig up the countless examples of people who do terribly stupid and/or illegal who don't go to church? I am pretty thoroughly convinced that stupidity crosses the lines of religious affiliation.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 3:58 PM on September 22, 2002

She worked at a law firm. It boggles the mind lawyers are exposed to the mind of a criminal everyday by nature. How could she not see it was a scam? Even is she was not a lawyer at least she is surrounded by lawyers wouldnt some of the street-smarts rub off, it doesnt take much to see its a scam.
posted by stbalbach at 5:39 PM on September 22, 2002

stbalbach, I'm too lazy to look it up on Google, but there's a reasonable chance that's a civil-law firm, and therefore not (necessarily) "exposed to the mind of a criminal" at all.

Depending on how you interpret "criminal," of course.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:06 PM on September 22, 2002

skallas -- I agree that religion or the lack thereof shouldn't enter into a discussion of whether an action is justifiable or not, nor of the worth of a person. But the comment that I referenced was implying that religious sentiment was linked to gullibility. I hardly think that this story is hard evidence of that.

I myself am not religious and certainly think that the world would be a better place if people checked their beliefs at the proverbial door. However, I'm not a big fan of hostility towards people based on their beliefs (or, once again, lack thereof). Turning everything into a discussion of why religious people are stupid/evil/closeminded is pretty damn condescending, counterproductive, and often just another exercise in mental masturbation for those who would like to sit around and congratulate themselves on their oh-so-enlightened views.

Thin-skinned? Nah. Bored to tears by my atheist/agnostic compatriots? Sometimes.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:34 PM on September 22, 2002

That stupid git deserves everything she has coming to her.

I can't believe people still fall for this! It's frickin crazy. And XQUZYPHYR is right, they just bankrolled the next 20 years of these scams by pulling off one this big. It's like spam..if NO ONE answered it, they would stop sending it. Or if NO ONE gave homeless people money on the street, they would stop begging. And if mind-numbingly stupid people like POET wouldn't fall for this crap, they would stop, as well.
posted by aacheson at 11:37 AM on September 23, 2002

i'm baffled as to what she was doing in the long run...was she planning on reimbursing her employer's account when her "fee" came in? if not, why steal 2.1 million to make 4.3. if you're stupid enough to steal 2.1 million, why not just take the money and run?
posted by dobbs at 8:47 PM on September 24, 2002

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