04 February 2010

Nigerian scammers don't give up easily

It's surprising that people fall for these e-mail scams, but apparently they do. Some of the e-mail headers suggest the following one came out of Nigeria, but I'm not sure. In any case, it came from an sbcglobal.net address. Real persons' names and addresses have been replaced by xs and hash marks; my e-mails are in italics.

The bait:

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I came down here to Wales,United Kingdom for a short vacation unfortunately i was mugged at the park of the hotel where i stayed,all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off me but luckily for me i still have my passports with me. I've been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and my flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now but am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let me leave until i settle the bills, I'm freaked out at the moment.

#### N. ##th Street

The above name and address were of a real person, someone I've never met, although it appears likely that the person's whose name was being used had my business e-mail address for legitimate reasons. I decided to find out what else he has to say:

I can't get $1,300 right away. Would $500 be of help?

Could you fax me a copy of your passport so I know you are who you say you are?

I didn't really expect to get a copy of a passport, but we'll see:

Glad you replied back, I still need help, I have nothing left on me right now and I am lucky to have my life and passports with me it would have been worst if they had made away with me passports.

Well all I need now is just $1,300 you can have it wired to my name via Western Union i'll have to show my passport as ID to pick it up here and i promise to pay you back as soon as I get back home. Here's my info below:

London W10 4AH, United Kingdom

As soon as it has been done, kindly get back to me with the confirmation number. Let me know if you are heading to the WU outlet now???

This time, the address was of a recording studio in London, and the e-mail came from a yahoo.com address. Anyway, he didn't say anything about faxing me his passport, so I'll try again.

Would you be able to fax me a copy of your passport? I want to make sure you are who you say you are. Thanks!

This time, the scammer answers my query:

my passport was with the hotel manager right now am at the public liberty talking to you.So you can call the hotel manager on the line +############# his name James smith

Well, there's a clue. I didn't call the number, but I did find out that the prefix used is most likely a cell phone number, not the number of a hotel. And several scam-busting sites reported that that particular prefix is often used by Nigerian e-mail scams. Before I had waited long, I got this:

Please ignore an e-mail requesting money to me! I have been hacked, and I'm working with SBC to resolve. Sorry for the worry and concern! I am at home and well!


#### N. ##th Street

Well, I'm glad he got his sbcglobal.net e-mail address back under his own control. I thought this might be the end of it, but no. Another letter came from the yahoo.com address.

Am waiting for the confirmation from western union because my flight leaves in 1 hour 30min time i will surely refund your money once i get back home.

My response:

I'm not sure you have enough time to catch the plane. You need to be at the airport about two hours in advance.

About 15 minutes later, another response:

Once the hotel bill is sort out i will be leaving to the airport.that is why you have to wired the money now so i can pickup the money here.

He doesn't give up, that's for sure. Maybe if he were to put that kind of effort into making a legitimate living ...

Let's see how he answers my next question:

I still need to make sure you are who you say you are. I'm more than happy to send you the money if I know you're legitimate. Could you please tell me where I know you from? Thanks!

No surprise, but he ignores the question:

Just want to know if you have wired the money.

I respond:

No, I've withdrawn money from the bank and am all ready to send it. I just need to make sure you're legitimate. Where do I know you from?

And that was all I heard from him.