How Much Sympathy Does a Fool Deserve
by Douglas Chick
As long as there is greed, there will be conmen and
suckers. Greed motivates the con and the mark, and both are equally to blame.
My case in point is the Nigerian e-mail scam.
Hundreds of victims have recently fallen for a
variation of this con, in fact, 13 Billion US dollars worth to date.
It is also referred to as "Advance Fee Fraud", "419
Fraud" (Four-One-Nine) after the relevant section of the Criminal Code
of Nigeria, and "The Nigerian Connection" (mostly in Europe).
However, it is usually called plain old "419" even by the
The Scam operates as follows: the target receives an
unsolicited fax, email, or letter concerning Nigeria containing either a
money laundering or other illegal proposal OR you may receive a Legal and
Legitimate business proposal by normal means. Common variations on the Scam
include "overinvoiced" or "double invoiced" oil or other
supply and service contracts where your Bad Guys want to get the overage out
of Nigeria; crude oil and other commodity deals; a "bequest" left
you in a will; and "money cleaning" where your Bad Guy has a lot
of currency that needs to be "chemically cleaned" before it can be
used and he needs the cost of the chemicals. Or the victim will just be
stiffed on a legitimate goods or services contract...the variations are very
creative and virtually endless. What every letter does have in common is
that if you help them you will make a lot of money. This is how every con
begins; the victim believes that they will become rich at someone else’s
misfortune. And of course it ends with the scams victim giving up his or her
money and receiving nothing in return. What do all of these victims have in
to see all the difference variants of this
One victim who went to Africa to hunt down his
fortune was captured by his con artists and tortured, according to the
British report. Another, a 72-year-old Prague man who
had lost his life savings, allegedly stormed into the city’s Nigerian
embassy last month and shot two people, killing 50-year-old Nigerian consul
Michael Lekara Wayid.
The newest scam to replace the Nigerian e-mail scam is
the Iraqi e-mail scam. This scam has an added twist making it more
dangerous; these scammers claim to be Iraqi Christians who are trying to get
their dead Iraqi Christian father’s money out of the country and needs
your help. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve targeted the entire Bush
Administration on this one.