Scamming the scammers
November 21, 2002 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Still getting those Nigerian scam spams? Brad Christensen is too -- but he seems to be enjoying them. (And he's not the only one, either.)
posted by ook (26 comments total)
Humor aside, the quatloos site has a wealth of information on the 4-1-9 scam and on frauds in general.

Not that any of you were going to fall for one, of course.
posted by ook at 5:01 PM on November 21, 2002

I like Brad's writing style. About the only thing he could do to improve upon that chain of correspondence, is to switch to medieval English entirely. Good stuff!
posted by blindcarboncopy at 5:16 PM on November 21, 2002

I've had my buddy Moshood corresponding for about a year now. I figure the mors time he spends talking to me, the less time he has to scam a grandmother in Cleveland out of her life savings.

Check out the dialogue here

There are a few more recent entries on the main page, and I'm drafting new material as we speak.

Scamming the scammers is fun.
posted by hipnerd at 5:23 PM on November 21, 2002

posted by holloway at 5:26 PM on November 21, 2002

This is hilarious...only in America can we absorb this craziness and make fun of it... this is a favorite line I read from the " Brad and Kendra " series:

In addition to the house-cleaning machinery business, I have invented a means of growing dental floss and have started an orchard in Montana.
posted by RubberHen at 6:41 PM on November 21, 2002

This is exceptionally funny, but it is also sad that so many people in Nigeria are driven by poverty to organising these pathetic scams rather than contributing to society.

Then again, it was absolutely wonderful to hear that large flying pterosaurs are in abundance in Accra.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:58 PM on November 21, 2002

I do this with the poor Nigerians all the time. I strung one along for two months until I ran out of good excuses and started getting silly.

I actually have an e-mail folder called "From Nigeria" where I keep all my Nigerian spam for posterity. I've collected dozens upon dozens of variations of the story.
posted by oissubke at 6:58 PM on November 21, 2002

More discussion and links on this topic.
posted by modofo at 7:10 PM on November 21, 2002

It is also sad that so many people in Nigeria are driven by poverty to organising these pathetic scams rather than contributing to society.

I'm not sure I'd consider someone with a computer and an Internet connection -- and enough time to plan and execute an attempt to defraud millions -- "in poverty"...
posted by Danelope at 7:12 PM on November 21, 2002

Growing dental floss in Montana? That's a Frank Zappa song!

I might be movin' to Montana soon
Just to raise me up a crop of
Dental Floss

Raisin' it up
Waxen it down
In a little white box
That I can sell uptown

posted by lasm at 7:20 PM on November 21, 2002

I have one Sophia Kabbah strung out. She, if it is a she, is having her brother meet me at the Lome International Airport in Togo, Africa on Nov 23. I, Indiana Jones, am personally bringing the cash to her to open an account there so she may deposit the millions I will get for helping transfer their trunk full of money out of the country.

Any one else working with Sophia?
posted by hockeyman at 7:32 PM on November 21, 2002

The 1992 census put the Nigerian population at 88,992,220.

I personally have been notified of the tragic and untimely deaths of at least 88,992,210 citizens, all of whom left enormous fortunes and died intestate.

By my reckoning there are only five to ten living Nigerians left. Leave these poor people alone.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:08 PM on November 21, 2002

I'm so entertained by this scam method.. it's always from Nigeria.. I envision tribesmen speaking to other in clickity-clack type language about blindsiding grandmothers in the US..

At least I understood women from certain countries seeking husbands from the US on IRC and IM clients. We used to call them the Visa Patrol..
posted by shadow45 at 8:25 PM on November 21, 2002

Slate had an article last month on how the explosion of 419 scams have fueled a boom in internet cafe use in Nigeria.
posted by mathowie at 9:12 PM on November 21, 2002

I've been playing with them all year. Its really quite entertaining, on my end at least.
Like the game from the book PIgman, the object is to see how long you can keep them believing you, while slipping ridiculous stuff into the your responses that anyone except a nigerian scammer would know to be bunk.
I recommend this new american sport to you all. Try it, its fun, and a couple of thousand people playing this would probably crash their whole racket from all the wasted time.
posted by Fupped Duck at 9:36 PM on November 21, 2002

Wow. I feel like such a newbie. I just recently started saving the especially good ones (Nigerian scam letters), and I haven't managed to hook any scammers with the one or two responses I've tried. *sighs, feels inadequate*
posted by troutfishing at 10:58 PM on November 21, 2002

hipnerd, I enjoyed your Moshood correspondence, especially Moshood's observation that "sending commandos will arouse a lot of eyebrows".

Let us know how it works out for you, pepe and kathie lee...

best regards,


For the Family.
posted by taz at 3:29 AM on November 22, 2002

I doubt anyone is interested, but my grandfather used to travel to Nigeria from time to time as part of his job.

He once told be that he'd trust anyone from Africa appart from the white South Africans (no idea why) and the Nigerians. He claimed they were a nation full of con men, and even stopped his department (he was high up in the civil service) from dealing with Nigerian groups unless they paid money up front.

Any ideas why Nigeria should breed scammers?
posted by twine42 at 4:19 AM on November 22, 2002

Oh no! Bangladesh has caught up! My most corpulent love must be upset.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:54 AM on November 22, 2002

This one presents a new slant, and is apparently doing the rounds as we speak.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:21 AM on November 22, 2002

I like corresponding with them, but I always use a special email address

No, I didn't purchase the domain just for this purpose, but it surely is fun getting all sorts of email addressing me as "My Dearest MutherFucker", "Mr MutherFucker", or telling me that someone passed away but left "MutherFucker" all this cash.

It usually only lasts for two or so emails until they catch on but hey, its a cheap thrill.
posted by Mutant at 5:41 AM on November 22, 2002

Even more bizarre is when spam and viruses collide: thanks to the marvel that is Bugbear (or Klez, not sure which) and the fact that she once sent me an email about something I said on MeFi, I recently got a Nigerian spam intended for bunnyfire.
posted by rory at 5:49 AM on November 22, 2002

Nigeria is not a nice place.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:00 AM on November 22, 2002

Yet another ongoing correspondence site, with multiple threads at once. Such energy! There's also a (1995-ish looking but don't hold that against it) scam letter analysis and news site, which charts names and banks involved, and tries to explain the mind games in which victims become ensnared.

Not all Nigerian scams are the "advance fee" or 419 variety -- though those take in $100M annually just from the US; federal authorities say one quarter of "major fraud cases investigated by the Secret Service", presumably involving counterfeiting, involve Nigerians. There's even a book detailing the types and history of Nigerian scamming.

The con is, of course, really quite old; in different form it was known as the Spanish Prisoner con (where the victim believed he was helping a jailed royal). A recent variant is the Canadian sweepstakes con.

From the movie:

It's an interesting setup, Mr. Ross. It is the oldest confidence game on the books. The Spanish Prisoner... Fellow says, him and his sister, wealthy refugees, left a fortune in the Home Country, he got out, girl and the money stuck in Spain. Here is her most beautiful portrait. And he needs money to get her and the fortune out. Man who supplies the money gets the fortune and the girl. Oldest con in the world.

There are six ingredients to most successful scams: The victim's motivation (greed, pity); the come-on (promised incentives, minimized objections); the shill (vouching, playing and "winning"); the swap (of game pieces, or money, when the pigeon is distracted or confused); the time limit (to impose a decision before the pigeon can consult with anyone); and the block (protecting the con man during his escape, or preventing reporting of the crime).

When I was riding the Chicago "L" every day, I used to see these shell-game guys; and in NYC I used to go watch them play on the street (I stopped when I started getting recognized, and I was shoved around once). It's always a fascinating game to identify the lookouts, enforcers, and shills, and so disappointing to watch the pigeons waltz right into the deception. On the "L" Red Line to Evanston, they seem to zero right in on young, impressionable Midwestern girls from NU and Loyola riding with friends; playing the game becomes a social event.
posted by dhartung at 1:14 PM on November 22, 2002

I find it amazing that, in this age of information available everywhere, there are still people who get sucked into these things. I almost feel that they deserve to be ripped off for being so ill-informed. In the same way people who get sucked in by hoax virus messages and forward them to everyone they know almost deserve to get infected by a real virus for being so gullible. Perhaps I'm just an arsehole :-)

For some reason, I had never received one of these e-mails despite hearing about them everywhere. Then I became a MetaFilter member and I now get around one per week. Probably a coincidence... I deleted the latest this morning, but I now feel inspired to take on the next one that comes along. Sounds like fun.
posted by dg at 6:36 PM on November 24, 2002

Cool! I got another one this morning. Sent a charming reply off and will wait and see what happens.
posted by dg at 4:09 PM on November 25, 2002

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