An Offer You Can Refuse
Date Added: Aug. 19, 2001
You get a letter from a stranger in another country who tells you he or she has millions of dollars stored in a bank somewhere, but can't access it because of legal restrictions. He'll split the money with you if you help him get it out of the country. Sound too good to be true?
From: oseni mustapha [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
I AM MAKING THIS CONTACT WITH PROFOUND INTEREST, HAVING CONSIDERED YOU HIGHLY REPUTABLE AND CAPABLE OF ASSISTANCE TO MY UNDERSTATED BUSINESS PROPOSAL AFTER GOING THROUGH A BRIEF PROFILE OF YOUR COMPANY HERE IN THE GHANA INTERNATIONAL TRADE AFFAIRS COMMISSION.
I AM OLIVER KABILA FROM THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO ZAIRE, SON OF LATE LAURENT M. KABILA, THE FORMER PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES REPUBLIC OF CONGO ZAIRE. PRESENTLY TAKING REFUGE HERE IN ACCRA GHANA (WEST AFRICA) AFTER THE SUDDEN DEMISE OF MY FATHER, FOLLOWING HIS ASSASINATION BY HIS PERSONAL BODY GUARD ON THE 16TH JANUARY 2001. I REFER YOU TO THE TIME MAGAZINE COVER STORY OF THE 12TH OF FEBRUARY.
ON TRUST AND IN UTMOST CONFIDENCE, I AM ESTABLISHING THIS RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU IN BENEVOLENT SPIRIT AS TO ENHANCE IMMEDIATE RESOLUTION TO AN OPPORTUNITY RIGHTLY AT HAND. IN A CLOSE DOOR MEETING HELD WITH MY FATHER BEFORE HIS SUDDEN DEATH, HE DISCLOSED TO ME CERTAIN FACTS AND SECRETS ABOUT HIMSELF AND THAT OF MY STEP-BROTHER GENERAL JOSEPH KABILA (I MEAN THE PRESENT PRESIDENT OF MY COUNTRY). CERTAIN DOCUMENTS WAS GIVEN TO ME THAT DAY BY MY FATHER REGARDING 1000KG OF 22 KARATS GOLD WHICH HE DEPOSITED IN A PRIVATE VAULT OF A SECURITY FIRM HERE IN GHANA. IN ADDITION, $168 MILLION USA DOLLARS CASH IN TWO TRUNK BOXES ALSO IN THE VAULT. THE $168 MILLION USD WAS TO BE USED TO WORK ON LEADERS OF THE ECOWAS COMMUNITY, ENHANCING HIS FULL SUPPORT IN POWER. BUT THIS AIM WAS NOT ACHIEVED BEFORE HIS DEATH.
THE ISSUE OF THIS MONEY AND THE GOLD HAS BEEN A SECRET BETWEEN MY FATHER AND I UNTILL HE DIED. THEREFORE, I AM TAKING THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO ENRICH AND EQUIP MYSELF TO FACE MY SECRET AMBITION. AS NOBODY CAN CONVINCE ME THAT MY STEP-BROTHER (JOSEPH) IS NOT BEHIND THE DEATH OF MY FATHER.
I HAVE SINCE BEEN IN THIS TOWN IN PURSUANCE OF THE CLEARANCE OF THIS CONSIGNMENT AND I AM SO FAR ABLE TO CLEARIFY/CERTIFY ALL PAPERS WITH THE SECURITY COMPANY (WHERE THE CONSIGNMENT IS BEING KEPT IN A PRIVATE VAULT). I HAVE INSPECTED THE BOX BUT COULD NOT OPEN IT DUE TO SECURITY REASONS. BECAUSE MY FATHER DID NOT DECLARE THE CONTENT AS MONEY BUT PERSONAL EFFECTS.
ALL I NEED NOW IS A RELIABLE FOREIGN PARTNER WITH WHOM I CAN CLEAR AND TRANSFER THIS MONEY ABROAD.I HAVE AGREED TO GIVE A REASONABLE PERCENTAGE OF THE TOTAL VALUE OF THIS CONSIGNMENT AS YOUR SHARE. YOU MAY ASK IF I DON'T HAVE INTERNATIONAL CONTACTS TO ASSIST ME ON THIS ISSUE. THE ANSWER IS YES, BUT I HAVE AN AMBITION RIGHT NOW AND WANT TO LIVE IN DISGUISE UNTILL MY AMBITION IS FULFILLED.
I EXPECT YOUR KIND URGENT RESPONSE BY PHONE OR EMAIL: email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org TO ENABLE ME FURNISH YOU WITH MORE DETAILS ON THIS BUSINESS.
THANKS IN ANTICIPATION.
OLIVER KABILA CELL PHONE: + 233 24260633 (ON 24HRS)
NB: I SHALL COUNT ON YOUR INDULGENCE TO PLEASE KEEP THIS INFORMATION VERY SECRET & CONFIDENTIAL. AND PLEASE, YOU SHOULD HENCEFORTH ADDRESS ME AS MR. MUSTAPHA OSENI. THAT IS THE NAME I AM NOW USING FOR SECURITY REASONS.
Variations of this scam have been bilking Americans - and others around the world - out of millions of dollars each year for decades. Originating in Western Africa, it's most often referred to as the "Nigerian" or "4-1-9" scam after the section of Nigerian law that forbids it. More broadly, it's called "advanced fee fraud" and is very much against the law virtually everywhere.
Originally targeted at businesses and charitable organizations, the scam has mutated to target individuals as well. The names and particulars differ from letter to letter, but the formula is always the same:
"I am writing you in confidence in hopes that you can help with a business venture. Because of my ties with a foreign government or bank, I have come into a sizeable fortune. Unfortunately, social, political and/or legal restrictions prohibit me from accessing the money directly. But you can help me and, in return, I will share the wealth with you. Just contact me to let me know if you are interested."
Quite often, they come addressed directly to you and use your name in the salutation. Don't be fooled, these scammers buy the same mailing lists that spammers do and use them to their advantage.
There are literally hundreds of variations of this scam, and no one site could list them all. Other popular variants include an appeal to churches and a notice that you've won a foreign lottery you never entered.
The most frequent question I get is "do people really fall for this?" The answer is, sadly, yes. According to Internet Scambusters, in 1996, the United States Secret Service received 300-600 complaints from victims and potential victims each week! The lure of easy money can sometimes be way too much for some to resist. On the 'net, people often adopt an attitude of "It's probably not true, but I'll try it - What can it hurt?"
It hurts big time. Once you've initiated contact with these scammers, they will stop at nothing to get what they're after - access to your bank account. They will harass, threaten, and even use physical force to achieve their goal.
Most experts agree, the best thing to do is ignore them and hit the delete button. Many have told me, however, that they have (or at least were tempted to) reply to the sender just to let them know that they are "on to" them. However, this is highly inadvisable. These are not bored teenagers looking to score an easy buck. These are hardened, organized criminals who will not be discouraged by threats of contacting the authorities. They see every response from you as an opportunity to exploit and aren't afraid to do so.
If you live in the United States and have received a letter like the above and lost money as a result, the U.S. Secret Service asks that you contact your Secret Service Field Office. In other parts of the world, check with local consumer advocates and organizations investigating international crime to see if they are looking into this type of scam.
Don't be a victim. Break this Chain!
References: Secret Service Advisory