The Nigerian email scam is the modern day version of the Nigerian Fax Scam which was once the modern day version of the Nigerian Letter Scam.
Basically, you get a letter from a Nigerian who wants to transfer millions into your bank account because he’s heard you’re trustworthy. You only need to provide a bank account number. You can imagine what happens as soon as you’re dumb enough to do that.
Apparently people are dumb enough, the scam works.
I receive several of these per week. Recently, I chose a Policy of Engagement rather than a Policy of Deletion, because I felt there might be comedic value in it. There is.
The following real correspondence is between myself (as Michael Bloomberg) and Dr. Abu Hassan, who trusts me and wants my bank account number.
WE BEGIN. A stranger writes, and wants my bank account information:
From: DR. ABU HASSAN
Subject: EXTREMELY URGENT
REQUEST FOR A MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP: PERMISSION TO REMIT US$35MILLION INTO YOUR COMPANY OR PRIVATE ACCOUNT.
With due respect, trust and humility, I write you this proposal believing that it will receive the most desired attention from you even as we have not had any previous correspondence before.
Although I am constrained by insufficient information
about you, but I will express in full the main objectives of this proposal.This request for your assistance is of mutual benefit to us all. Our company is specialized in contract syndication, projects consulting,monitoring/supervision and management services. We would like to solicit your kindness in assisting us to champion the transfer of some fund from our country to yours for safe keeping. The total amount of fund is US$35million (Thirty-five Million United States Dollars Only).
SOURCE OF THIS FUND:We have used our network of relationships, to secure a contract valued at US$350,000,000.00 (THREE HUNDREDAND FIFTY MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY) from the Federal Ministry
of Works & Housing (F.M.W.H.). This contract was in favour of a Foreign based Multi-national company. This contract has been fully executed and the contractors have already received their payments from the Ministry
of Works & Housing.
However, before the contract was awarded, we had understanding with officials of Federal Ministry of Works & Housing, that 10% (TEN PERCENT) of the total contract sum would be our commission for our services in recommending the contractors and for helping to conduct various negotiations leading to final agreement. This 10% amounting to US$35,000,00.00 (THIRTY-FIVE MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY) is due for payment to a foreign account of our choice.
This amount is owned by our goodselves and some top officials of Federal Ministry of Works & Housing.
Basically, you would be required to nominate a suitable Bank Account that will conveniently accommodate the total fund. Account could be a
fresh or an already existing one, and could be individual or corporate account. All necessary arrangement have been made for the transfer of the funds into your account which they are awaiting for your above mentioned details to enable us make proper documentation of the payments in your favour and apply for the transfer of the funds into your account. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE TRANSFER OPERATION WILL TAKE SEVEN TO TEN WORKING DAYS TO BE COMPLETED. I would need your personal assurance that you would not sit on the money when its finally get into your account.
SHARING MODALITIES: You shall be entitled to 25% of this fund for your envisaged efforts and assistance rendered. 5% has been set aside for reimbursement to both parties for incidental expenses that may be incurred in the course of this transaction. The remaining 70% would be for our company and the top officials.
This proposal is strictly confidential, free from any form of risk and does not depend on any particular field of trade to prosecute. Therefore, the line of business of yourself/company is not a hindrance to the successful execution of this transaction. It however requires your adequate participation and support to enable its accomplishment on schedule.
Be informed that on completion of this business our company will use part of its share of the money to invest in your country under your care. Please send email to me on my PrivateE-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org PHONE:234-802-*******
Thanks in anticipation and God bless.
DR. ABU HASSAN.
Abu’s hard work pays off, he gets a reply:
From: Michael Bloomberg
Subject: Re: EXTREMELY URGENT
Hello Dr. Abu!
My name is Michael Bloomberg. I live in New York City and am in receipt of your letter suggesting a partnership wherein I will provide you with my bank account information and you will transfer $350 Million to it for safekeeping. I understand that for my assistance I stand to be compensated 5% of the $35 Million commission you stand to receive.
I will assume you received my email address from my uncle Jack, who had previously worked with a little boy named Ndugu who lived outside of Lagos. Otherwise I’m not sure how you would have come across it. Perhaps I’m on a list of people who enjoy fine wines? I like fine wines. I don’t believe I’ve ever had any Nigerian wines. If you have vineyards then perhaps I will try some at some point. I believe I read something about Mobutu Sese Seko once. I’m not sure if he’s Nigerian, but the name sure sounds it.
I am glad you trust me. I believe you have made a smart decision. I can be trusted, and as a result I have had a very successful career in business. I’ve actually done a great deal of good for local restaurants, by preventing tobacco use and sending 30% of restaurant and bar profits somewhere else.
I would be happy to provide you with my account information and facilitate the transfer of the $350 Million to my account here in New York, and see to it that your share gets to you when ready. Please let me know what needs to be done.
As is customary in New York, I would like to get to know you better, especially if we stand to be business partners. I will start by saying I love the color blue and long walks. I don’t know if you’re ever been to New York City before, but it is a wonderful, smoke-free place where one can walk on a variety of substances and be peppered with input from all the glorious olfactory and auditory joys that make this city the greatest city in the United States, and perhaps the world. Though, I must admit never having traveled to Africa so perhaps Lagos or that place in the Southwest of the continent is nice.
Anyway. I tend to talk too much! I look forward to hearing from you,
New York City
Abu starts working his criminal mojo:
From: abu hassan
Subject: VERY URGENT
I THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONCERN TOWARDS THIS TRANSFER OF FUND. BUT I MUST BE FRANK WITH YOU REGARDS THE AMOUNT INVOLVE IN THIS TRANSACTION. THE TOTAL AMOUNT TO BE TRANSFER INTO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT IS US$35 MILLIONS AND NOT $350M AS YOU MAY KNOW.
ALL I SAID IS THAT THE TOTAL CONTRACT AMOUNT THAT WAS AWARDED TO A FOREIGN CONTRACTOR WAS $350M AND OVER INVOICE AMOUNT THAT IS READY FOR TRANSFER IS $35M. YOUR SHARE IN IT AFTER THE FUND IS BEEN CONFIRM IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT IS 25% AND 5% IS SET ASIDE INCASE OF ANY TAXATION THAT MAY OCCOUR DURING THE TRANSFER OF THIS PAYMENT.
BE REST ASSURE THAT ALL THIS WOULD BE DOWN LATES WITHIN THE SCHEDULE TIME OF 10 WORKING DAYS AND THERE IS NO RISK IN THIS TRANSFER .
PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU FORWARD YOUR BANK ACCOUNT AND THE NAME OF THE BENEFICIARY’S WHICH YOU WANT ME TO USE FOR THIS CLAIM UNDER THIS CONTRACT NUMBER 045/NNPC-WR-KD/99.
APPLICATION WILL BE SUBMITTED AS SOON AS I RECEIVE YOUR ACCOUNT DETAIL TO THE AUTHORITIES CONCERN FOR THE RELEASE OF THIS FUND AND APPROVAL WILL BE ISSUED ON YOUR NAME WHILE THE INTERNATIONAL REMITTANCE DEPARTMENT WILL INSTRUCT STANDARD CHARTERED BANK IN NEW YORK TO CREDIT YOU. AS WE GO I WILL BE GIVEN YOU INFORMATION ON HOW THIS TRANSFER WILL COMMENCE.
IT DOESN’T MATTER THE TYPE OF ACCOUNT YOU WILL PROVIDE TO ME ALL I NEED IS A FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNT SINCE THE LAW DOES NOT PERMIT US TO HAVE A FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNT ABROAD.
REMEMBER TO GIVE ME YOUR NUMBER IMMEDIATELY FOR EASY COMMUNICATION WITH THE FINANCIAL AUTHORITIES CONCERN FOR THE TRANSFER.
DR. ABU HASSAN.
Michael clarifies the bank situation:
From: Michael Bloomberg
Subject: re: VERY URGENT
Sorry! I went back and re-read your letter and realize I did not read it correctly. I now understand that you will be wiring $35 Million and not $350 Million as I had originally understood. That is quite acceptable to me, I’m sorry for the misunderstanding! Normally I don’t make mistakes like that. I’m very good in business, you see.
I have a question regarding banks. There are several here in New York, as you can imagine, and I have accounts with some of them. Washington Mutual does not charge ATM fees and has a nice advertising campaign which I like. They are smaller though, and don’t have a lot of branches in the New York Metropolitan area. I don’t know if that’s a problem for you. There are always the “Big Boy” banks like Chase and Citibank. I have accounts with both of them as well. They are much bigger and have locations all over the city, and many ATMs. However they are quite lacking in the “customer service” department if you know what I mean. I sometimes think they are too big for their britches. I also like Commerce Bank because they let you bring your jars full of coins and will give you paper currency, without charging you. I won a free t-shirt there once. Come to think of it, Chase will probably want to charge you $12 USD for a wire transfer. Maybe even more if it comes from another country. I can ask.
Please let me know if you have a preference of a small bank or a big bank. It all depends on the kind of relationship you like to have with your bank. If I were to have my druthers (way) I would choose Washington Mutual. There’s also another bank called Independence Community Bank. I have a certificate of Deposit with them, which I opened not too long ago with a lovely Brazilian lady. Shortly after that I spotted Ethan Hawke on 23rd Street, so one has to wonder if that wasn’t a sign.
By the way, the interest rates in the United States right now are quite terrible! I hope you are not expecting to gain a lot of interest on your monies! The economy is not what it used to be, and I would tend to blame this whole Clinton/Lewinsky nonsense on that. Also, they banned smoking here which as you can imagine is very unpopular. Perhaps I can move to Nigeria where people can smoke freely.
This contract number, 045/NNPC-WR-KD/99, shall I put it on all correspondence?
Please let me know what you would like to do as far as the bank of your choosing.
I assume everything is legal and risk free, yes?
It has been several days and Dr. Abu has not responded. One must fear the worst.
From: Michael Bloomberg
Hi Abu. Is everything ok? Someone said that Nigeria lost power recently, so perhaps your internet isn’t working?
Abu returns with a tall tale of a trip to Paris. He’s my ‘best friend’ now, and prefers Washington Mutual.:
From: abu hassan
Subject: VERY URGENT.
SORRY FOR THE LITTLE DELAY IN RESPONDING TO YOUR MAILS. I WAS A LITTLE BUSY TRYING TO KEEP ONE OR TWO THINGS TOGETHER BEFORE I LEAVE FOR AN OFFICIAL ASSIGNMENT TO EUROPE.
I LIKE US TO USE THE BANK WHICH YOU SUGGESTED IN YOUR LAST MAIL CALLED [Washington Mutual]
I WILL BE SUBMITTING THE APPLICATION IF ONLY I CAN GET THE ACCOUNT DETAILS BY THE END OF TODAY OR TOMORROW BEFORE OUR AFTERNOON TIME SO THAT THE AUTHORITIES CONCERN WILL BE TREATING YOUR FILE TILL I COME BACK IN 7 DAYS TIME.
I SHALL LEAVE BY FRIDAY NIGHT TO PARIS AND I WOULD WANT YOU TO FORWARD THIS ACCOUNT DETAILS SO THAT I WILL PURSUE FOR THE APPROVAL OF THE FUND BEFORE I LEAVE ON FRIDAY THIS WEEK THE 17TH OCT 2002.
REMEMBER TO INCLUDE YOUR PHONE AND FAX NUMBER AND YOUR DIECT MOBILE PHONE WHERE I CAN REACH YOU AT ANYTIME AS YOUR PARTNER TILL WE MEET IN NEW YORK.
MY DIRECT NUMBER WHERE YOU CAN GET ME NOW IS 00234-802*******. MAKE SURE THAT YOU GET INTOUCH WITH ME SO THAT I WILL ACCESS MY MAIL IMMEDIATELY TO GET THE INFORMATION SUBMITTED TO THE FEDERAL MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND THE CENTRAL BANK WITH THE NIGERIAN NATIONAL PETROLEUM COPORATION.
ALL THESE OFFICES ARE INCHARGE OF THE RELEASE AND WHAT EVER THEY SENT TO YOU ,I MUST KNOW THE KIND OF QUESTION THEY ASK YOU FIRST BEFORE YOU RESPOND TO THEM. I WOULDN’T WANT YOU TO MAKE ANY MISTAKE FROM YOUR SIDE AS I HAVE MAPE OUT ALL THE STRATEGES TO SEE THAT AT THE END OF 7 WORKING DAYS EVERY THING WILL COME TO AN END WITH THE CONTRACT NUMBER 045/NNPC-WR-KD/99. I HAVE PUTING YOUR NAME IN THE SYSTERM AS THE SUB CONTRACTOR AND EVERY DOCUMENT CONCERNING THIS TRANSFER WILL BE ON YOUR NAME AS THE BENEFICIARY.
ONCE AGAIN I ASSURE YOU THAT THIS TRANSFER IS LEGITIMATE AND THERE IS NO RISK AT ALL IN THIS TRANSFER OF US$35M.
PLEASE KEEP TO YOUR OWN SHARE AND MY OWN SHARE.
YOURS BEST FRIEND,
DR. ABU HASSAN
Abu also doesn’t want me to believe the hype about Nigeria:
From: abu hassan
Subject: Re: Hello?
PLEASE IGNORE ANYBODY WHO SAYS WE LOSE POWER AND OUR COMPUTER IS NOT WORKING. THAT IS TIPICAL LYE.
JUST READ MY FIRST MAIL AND MAKE SURE YOU GET INTOUCH WITH ME ON PHONE AFTER SENDING YOUR BANK DETAILS TO ME FOR SUBMISSION.
MY NUMBER IS 00234-802*******
DR. ABU HASSAN
Abu gets a response. One has to wonder how much longer this can go on.
From: Michael Bloomberg
Okay, looks like your internet is working again. Thank goodness!
Washington Mutual should be fine then. You’ll like them – they have very funny commercials. My grandfather Giuliani used to say that a business with a good advertising is a business when you’re there you’re like family, the olive garden.
I will have to get you my bank account number tomorrow because I am still in my office (I’m good at business) and my bank account slips are in my home in my guest room closet. I will probably not get home for a while because there was a ferry accident. It’s very windy. Unrelated, my grandmother Hillary fell and did a number on herself. She’s 92 so you just don’t bounce back like you used to. But she’s strong as a wedgie, you can imagine.
I will call you when I have sent the information. I have never called Nigeria before, so if you receive a call and it seems like it’s from New York, it’s probably me (don’t hang up!). Nigeria has very large phone numbers, my goodness!
Have a great trip to Paris. It is a wonderful city, except for all the French. Will this be your fist visit? The rigatoni there is out of this world. Do Nigerians speak French? Your English is so good I just assume you speak English!
Talk to you soon.
By Special Vegan,
It is quite clear this is a very one-sided relationship. Abu replies but fails to address anything I have mentioned– such as my fallen “grandmother Hillary”, the rigatoni of Paris or my Olive Garden jumble.
From: abu hassan
Subject: VERY URGENT
MY DEAR FRIEND,
GREETINGS, HOW IS TODAY ? I ASSUME THAT YOU ARE IN GOOD CONDITION OF HEALTH AS I AM TODAY OVER HERE IN NIGERIA.
I WILL BE LEAVING TOMORROW TO PARIS AND I WOULD LIKE TO CALL YOU WHEN I ARRIVE ALSO I WILL TOUCH ITALY BEFORE COMING BACK. PLEASE DONT FORGET TO CALL ME AND REMEMBER THE ACCOUNT DETAILS WHICH IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR ME TO SUBMIT BEFORE I LEAVE TOMORROW EVENING.
THERE IS NO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT THAN I AM WAITING FOR THE DETAIL OF YOUR ACCOUNT , IF YOU WANT TO OPEN A FRESH ACCOUNT THERE IS NO PROBLE ALL I NEED IS BANK ACCOUNT WHERE I CAN PROCESS AND TRANSFER THE FUND OUT OF THIS COUNTRY FOR GOOD.
I WILL WANT TO GET YOUR PHONE NUMBER SO THAT WE CAN BE COMMUNICATING WHEN I GET TO EUROPE FOR AN OFFICIAL ASSIGNMENT.
00234-802******* DIRECT NUMBER WHERE YOU CAN REACH ME. OTHER NUMBER IS FOR MY COLLEAGUE IN THE OFFICE
The affair continues…
Hello Abu, or shall I call you Doctor Abu? I have a slight pain in my shoulder. Perhaps you can help me with this. Are you a shoulder doctor or do you work with unhappy people?
I have gone ahead and spoken with Washington Mutual to set up another account. The account number is 2212-8172-69-122 with the additional last four digits being that of my Social Security number. I don’t know if you saw on TV, but the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 6-5. This was fantastic! The game was very exciting. I’m sure you saw the last inning with the sudden home run. Boy, goodness, that is what baseball is all about.
I want to call you, but it is already very late and I don’t want to wake you up. I know Nigeria is probably an hour ahead of New York on the time clock, so I’m afraid I might disturb you from your great slumbers before the big trip to Paris and Italy. That would be terrible of me to do. New York is known for its courtesy, I’m sure you have heard.
I will call you in the morning when I wake, which should be around 8:30 in the morning your time, if you are an hour ahead of New York on the time clock.
Praises and yogurt!
Your good friend,
This continues: The Nigerian Email Experiment, Part II