Nigeria or Bust: Update Number One

Well folks, it has begun. To give you an idea of the way some Internet scammers work, I decided to answer the letter that I found in my mailbox. I created a false identity for myself, a new e-mail address and I wrote my response. To keep others from sending e-mails and ruining the game, I have removed my fake contact details):

Dear Abbey:

Thank you for your letter, the transaction looks very interesting and I would like to know more. You understand the need to be discreet so please communicate with me here, at this e-mail address: xxxxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx. It is my personal e-mail.

I look forward to your response and all the details on this interesting transaction.

Sincerely,
Cxxxxx Gxxxxxx, Esq.

I received this answer in return:

Good Day,

A lot of thanks for your message. Your urgent response confirmed all my trust and confidence in you to deliver this project. with the arrangement in place , it will be done in accordance to the laws of both countries as these funds will be secured out legally and transfer to your country.But before I will tell you all you need to know about this project, there are few questions I would want to get the answer straight from your heart considering the fact that we have not seen or known each other before and most importantly, a lot of money that our life and future depend on is involved.

The questions are as follows:

(1)Are you sure you will maintain the level of confidentiality needed to achieve this transaction as planed?
 
(2)Are you sure again that i will not have problems with you in collecting my own share of the money after it had been transferred to your account?

(3)How much do you think we can pay on the entire amount as tax or rate in your country?

(4)Is your phone line secured and private, if so can i have your telephone number to enhance our relationship verbally? i thank you for knowing the confidentiality of this business and the discreet will be between us okay.

(5)What investment ideas do you have in mind as I wish to invest through.
 
Finally what kind of business are you into??? 

As soon as I hear from you, I will tell you all you will need to know including the security measures we will take to accomplish this transaction.

Yours sincerely,
Abbey

Apparently I have won him over with the speed of my response. Now he has some questions. Look carefully at them, they are designed to:

  • Engender an emotional commitment
  • Make sure I keep my mouth shut
  • Keep me thinking along legal lines (the tax question)
  • Get me thinking about what I will do with the money (the investment questions)

OK, Let’s play along and see what happens. Here are the answers to his questions: 

(1)Are you sure you will maintain the level of confidentiality needed to achieve this transaction as planed?

Answer:            Of course! I want to see this go through as much as you do!
 
(2)Are you sure again that i will not have problems with you in collecting my own share of the money after it had been transferred to your account?

Answer:            I am an honest businessman. Your share will be safe with me!

(3)How much do you think we can pay on the entire amount as tax or rate in your country?

Answer:            With the various tax loopholes, shelters and other devices available to those of us who know how to work the system, taxes will be minimal if anything at all! My associate, Mr. Cairo, is a genius at minimizing taxes.

 (4)Is your phone line secured and private, if so can i have your telephone number to enhance our relationship verbally? i thank you for knowing the confidentiality of this business and the discreet will be between us okay.

Answer:            My phone is secure, but I am frequently on the road. For example, I am writing you today from Istanbul where I am meeting with an antiquities dealer. We are negotiating a price for the statue of a bird that dates back to the 15th Century. I have wanted it for years so wish me luck!

 (5)What investment ideas do you have in mind as I wish to invest through.

Answer:            Most of my money is in oil futures. Right now that is the best investment you can make.

Finally what kind of business are you into???

Answer:            I am primarily a dealer in antiquities and rare art, but I also have a variety of other interests and investments and I am looking forward to adding yours to that list.

There, questions are answered and ready to go. Notice my evasion of the telephone question. Obviously, I am not going to give him my real number, but by the time he insists, I will have a fake number ready to give him.

This brings me to a very important Internet safety tip: If you don’t know someone who has contacted you over the Internet, don’t give anyof your personal information to them! You should already know about the big stuff like Social Security and bank account numbers, passwords, usernames or things of that sort. I mean phone numbers, e-mail, your name—anything that someone can use to steal your identity. 

The United States Department of Justice offers this advice to help combat Internet fraud:

  • Don't Judge by Initial Appearances. It may seem obvious, but consumers need to remember that just because something appears on the Internet - no matter how impressive or professional the Web site looks - doesn't mean it's true. The ready availability of software that allows anyone, at minimal cost, to set up a professional-looking Web site means that criminals can make their Web sites look as impressive as those of legitimate e-commerce merchants.
  • Be Careful About Giving Out Valuable Personal Data Online. If you see e-mail messages from someone you don't know that ask you for personal data - such as your Social Security number, credit-card number, or password - don't just send the data without knowing more about who's asking. Criminals have been known to send messages in which they pretend to be (for example) a systems administrator or Internet service provider representative in order to persuade people online that they should disclose valuable personal data. While secure transactions with known e-commerce sites are fairly safe, especially if you use a credit card, nonsecure messages to unknown recipients are not.
  • Be Especially Careful About Online Communications With Someone Who Conceals His True Identity. If someone sends you an e-mail in which he refuses to disclose his full identity, or uses an e-mail header that has no useful identifying data (e.g., "W6T7S8@provider.com"), that may be an indication that the person doesn't want to leave any information that could allow you to contact them later if you have a dispute over undelivered goods for which you paid. As a result, you should be highly wary about relying on advice that such people give you if they are trying to persuade you to entrust your money to them.
  • Watch Out for "Advance-Fee" Demands. In general, you need to look carefully at any online seller of goods or services who wants you to send checks or money orders immediately to a post office box, before you receive the goods or services you've been promised. Legitimate startup "dot.com" companies, of course, may not have the brand-name recognition of long-established companies, and still be fully capable of delivering what you need at a fair price. Even so, using the Internet to research online companies that aren't known to you is a reasonable step to take before you decide to entrust a significant amount of money to such companies. 

The message has been answered and I am looking forward to the response. It is a real pity that my new friend hasn’t read what the Department of Justice has to say regarding those who conceal their true identity online (see above).

Stay tuned to see what Abbey will do next!