Nigerian scam

My e-mail inbox regularly yields interesting messages. The latest prompted me to write this piece. It relates to an old scam which some of you may have heard of but which is clearly still going.  

Potential victims receive requests promising huge cash rewards in return for a small up-front investment. The correspondence is carefully addressed and personalised, often to small companies but also to individuals. It most cases it has the appearance of an official missive and may claim to be from a foreign government body or large company.  

It may look harmless, even friendly, but the reality is an international scam that could be costing Britain up to £150m a year in lost 'investments'. The initial cash and the promised payout never materialise and the contact details for your new "friend" prove useless.  
The '419' and how it works

The scam, which started in Nigeria, is known as the '419 Advanced Fee Fraud' after the section of the Nigerian penal code which covers the crime.  

A typical letter or e-mail works like this:  

Your new 'friend' or 'potential business partner' will claim to be in possession of a large amount of over-budgeted money (up to US$50 million has been quoted), that they want to get out of their country. A reason such as tax avoidance is given as the reason for the transfer and you will be offered 20-35% commission for the use of your bank account.  

If you are interested, you are asked to forward some paperwork which generally includes signed, blank company letterheads, blank invoices, telephone and fax numbers, and bank account details so as to enable the money to be transferred to your account.  

The money is then obtained from you in a number of ways. This may be through an 'expenses payment' or 'initial fee' to cover tax or show good faith. Alternatively, money can be removed from your account using fake letters made with the documentation you have provided. In extreme cases, you may be invited to meet your new contacts in Nigeria where your passport is held until a 'fee' is paid.  

Obviously, behaviour of this kind is a criminal offence.  

So what is being done?

The National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) has seized around one and a half million letters relating to the advanced fee fraud. But the better we get at cracking down on this in the UK, the more the fraudsters change their tactics.  

NCIS has seen letters now being sent via other countries or in bulk to the UK for domestic posting. There is also a move to e-mail which makes the spread of the scams harder to track and control.  

NCIS is working with shocked victims, many of whom have handed over thousands of pounds. But the real extent of the scam's success is hard to estimate as many victims are too embarrassed to come forward and admit they were duped.  
You may find it hard to believe that people actually respond to such letters but the problem is so great that police forces across Britain have established special units to deal with the scam.  

In July 2001, British businessman Josef Raca was freed from a week-long kidnap ordeal that began when he flew to South Africa to meet his 'partners' in what turned out to be a '419 scam'. Mr Raca was held at gunpoint, while his captors threatened to cut off his ears and kneecap him if he failed to give them the Pin numbers for his credit cards. The kidnappers were eventually caught after Mr Raca's family alerted the police.  

Although the Nigerian Government is working with NCIS, it has little sympathy for victims of the scam. Nigerian High Commissioner Bola Ajibola said the people falling for the scam were as culpable as the fraudsters: "It is unfortunate that we have some of these gullible people who can easily get targeted with the idea of a lot of money somewhere," he said. "I think it is not only stupid for people to do that but they are what we call "criminous (sic)participants", they are also criminals themselves."  
What to do if you are on the receiving end

Duncan McKelvie of NCIS offers the following advice: "If you receive one of these letters or emails, do not reply, as the criminals may use your letterhead for other frauds. Instead, forward them to NCIS, PO Box 8000, London SE11 5EN or forward them to email:"  
The 419 e-mail I received:

Dr. Abbas Baba  
Union Bank of Nigeria Plc  
Registered Office, Marina Lagos.  


First, I must solicit your confidence in this transaction, this is by virtue of its nature as being utterly CONFIDENTIAL and TOP SECRET. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make any one apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day. We have decided to contact you due to the urgency of this transaction, as we have been reliably informed of your disecretness and ability in transactions of this nature.  

Let me start by first introducing myself properly to you. I am DR. ABBAS BABA, a director with the Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Lagos. I came to know of you in my private search for a reliable and reputable person to handle this confidential transaction which involves the transfer of a huge sum of money to a foreign account requiring maximum confidence.  

A foreigner, Engineer Johnson Creek, an Oil Merchant/Contractor with the Federal Government of Nigeria, until his death three years ago in a ghastly air crash, banked with us here at Union Bank Plc, Lagos and had a balance of USD$12.5m (Twelve Million, Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) which the bank now unquestionably expects it to be claimed by any available foreign next-of-kin of the late beneficiary or alternatively be donated to a discredited trust fund for arms and ammunition at a military war college here in Nigeria. Fervent valuable efforts are being made by the Union Bank to get in touch with any of the Creek_s family or relatives but proved to no avail.  

It is because of the perceived possibility of not being able to locate any of late Engr. Johnson Creek_s next-of-kin (he had no wife and children) that the management under the influence of our Chairman and member of the board of directors, retired Major General Kalu Uke Kalu, that an arrangement be made for the funds to be declared _UNCLAIMABLE_ and subsequently be donated to the Trust Fund for Arms and Ammunition to further enhance the course of war in Africa and the world in general in order to avert this negative development, some of my trusted colleagues and I now seek your permission to have you stand as a next _of-kin to late Engr. Johnson Creek so that the funds USD$12.5m would be released and paid into your bank account as the beneficiary_s next-of-kin. All documents and proofs to enable you get this fund will be carefully worked out and more so we are assuring you of a 100% risk free involvement. Your share stays while the rest would be for myself and my colleagues  
for investment purposes in your country.  

We have agreed that, the funds will be shared thus, after it has been transferred into your account.  

1. 30% of the money will go to you for acting as the beneficiary of the funds.  
2. 10% will be set aside for reimbursement to both parties for any incidental expenses that may be incurred in the course of the transfer.  
3. 60% to us the originators of the transaction.  
If this proposal is OK by you and you do not wish to take undue advantage of the trust we hope to bestow on you and your company, then kindly get me immediately via my Direct Fax#234-9-2720239 furnishing me with your most confidential telephone, fax number and exclusive bank particulars so that I can use these information to apply for the release and subsequent transfer of the funds in your favour.  

Yours faithfully,  

Executive Director operations(Union Bank Plc).  
Yep, its like those appeals you see in the papers asking you to sponsor a child in Africa etc.  I wrote back asking for further details on exactly how far the child was running......  Never got an answer.......
The old adage applies;

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Gasman, you are spot on.

Unfortunately, the old pound signs in the eyes seem to blind even the most sensible people to that from time to time.

These e-mails are actually so bad they are amusing but you would be amazed at the number of people that did/do respond.  Even though they have been going for years now, there is still some sort of 'hit rate' for the fraudsters.
The latest Nigerian version of this uses a Zimbabwean Farmer's Union line of attack.

"We white farmers have all this money tied up and need your help to get it out of Mugabe's hands.  etc etc etc"

There is an apparently legit address in Harare, that turns out to be several thousand miles north.

As before, notify the West African desk in NCIS and ignore the offer.


If you have received one of these e-mails, or are concerned that you may get one, give me a call.

If you include your bank account details and a couple of examples of your signature I will ensure that the thieving b'stards don't get a penny from you.

;D 8)  

P.S. is Ronnie Biggs's Brazilian gaff still up for sale?
Dear Sir,

I am Major ALPHONSUS MUSA,the former Chief Security Officer to the former Chief of Army Staff LT General Ishaya Bamaiyi who is now in detention by the present Civilian Government headed by President Olusegun Obasanjo,on his alledged atempt murder to Chief
IBRU.We were retired after the civilian government took over the leadership of the government of Nigeria,our passport were seized to that effect. I do here by wish to ask for your assistance in urgent fund transaction that reqiures absolute honesty and secrecy.By virture of my possition, the former Chief of Army Staff General Bamaiyi gave me US$21.3M stcked in a box to save.This came on the heel of the
information that my former boss has been arrested and detained,but immediately l confirmed his detention,l immediately deposited the fund with a Security Company in Abroad so that it cannot be reach by my boss(Bamaiyi). l have realy been waiting for a
suitable time and opportunity to contact you regarding this transaction. l am using his opprtunity to seek for your assistance to move this money to your country to be invsted on my behalf,for this business to be concluded immediately,all you need to do is to arrange to meet with the Security Company where this fund has been lodge,open an accont in your name,pay in this whole money after clearing and transferring it to your choosen account.l cannot do that on my own because i do not have an account abroad and also l do not have any business to coverup he fund,this exactly why your assistance is need,l am ready to offer you 20% of the total sum and give yu power to manage 70% on my
behalf,while 10% has been earmarked to off set incidental expenses.Contat me immediately on my email.Note that upon conclusion of the arrangement,l shall forward to you the certificate of Deposit that will bear your particulars,and the Phone/Fax number of
the Security Company for confirmation.

Yours Truly,

My reply

Hello Major,

Chocks away, tally-hoo and cucumber sandwiches on the lawn !

Your a bally cad for only offering 20% of the takings. I demand Sir, no, I insist you offer me 40% of the takings, as I won't do time in the Glass House for just 20% ! Do you have any of the regimental sliver left over? We could do with some new pieces here in the Officers Mess at Duffous Barracks, what-hoo, etc.

Anyway, must dash, tennis on the lawn at 3, dinner at the Ritz at 7. Lah-de-dah, etc, again.

Major Fook Nutts

if you want to join in, his email is


This latest from BBC Africa:

Hope it works but the following factors make me doubt it:

Nigeria is assessed to be the second most corrupt country in the world (after Bangladesh).
The 419 Scam business is Nigeria's 4th largest foreign currency earner

Nigeria is to launch an inquiry into internet fraud and will examine the existing laws covering the problem.
The "419" swindle - named after the penal code that outlaws it - will be targeted in particular.

In the scam, people overseas are promised a share of non-existent riches in return for details of their bank account - which is then emptied.

"The government will step up measures against these criminal activities," President Olusegun Obasanjo said.

Currency earner

He said the inquiry will also consider establishing a new agency to deal with the crime.

The 419 scam has been so successful in the past 20 years that according to Reuters news agency it is a significant foreign exchange earner in Nigeria.

But BBC world affairs correspondent Mark Doyle says the government is keen to stamp out the fraud as it is giving Nigeria a bad name.

The country's anti-fraud squad has arrested more than 200 people, including a federal lawmaker, since May for alleged involvement in computer fraud.

The alleged perpetrators of the biggest ever 419 swindle, a $180m fraud that brought down a Brazilian bank, are among those facing prosecution.

"I am convinced that your recommendations would assist government to design appropriate policies to block all the loopholes... and stamp out all forms of 419 from society," President Obasanjo said at the ceremony to launch the commission.

The committee, which is headed by President Obasanjo's security adviser, has two months to submit a report.

Fingers crossed!
What's with the 'fingers crossed'? Anyone STUPID enough to send money or give their bank account details, via email to someone in another country they DON'T KNOW, needs hitting with a rubber hose pipe until they beg for forgiveness. Anyone who shares personal stuff over the web without knowing who is on the receiving end needs their head feeling (with a woodern mallet).
Anyone know how these people manage to achieve what they are doing? Surely somebody would need more than a bank account number and sort code to empty a bank account?

I mean, if you know a banks sort code and the format they use for their account numbers, wouldnt it just be a case of keep trying untill you get lucky?

People stupid enough to give personal bank details over the net asside, if all these people need is basic bank details to rob you the banks need to take some of the blame.


Could someone who has been taken by this lot please step up and have the piss ripped. statistically it is likely that someone has who reads this site, and we all need a laugh. Come on be a man!
I've had a reply:

I received your mail about the transfer,I have agreed to offer 40% to you.So
send me your banking informations immediately for the preparation of the
fund documents.
I am waiting to receive the informations.
Thanks for your assistance,
Major Alphonsus.

I've sent him a dud account for the Royal Banker of Anker. Tossers !!
Fukc sakes was going great until you stuck your tuppence worth in! Bastard!
From this morning's New Zealand Herald (04/12/03)

Computer buffs in New Zealand are 'baiting' Nigerian fraudsters in a new Internet blood sport

The ultimate goal is to turn the fraud back on the Nigerians, but authorities warn the game is dangerous and are urging people not to play.

Scam baiters start by replying to emails from African fraudsters trying to fleece recipients with fake charities or investments

The baiters pretend to fall for the scams whilst secretly humiliating the fraudsters, whom they call 'lads'

Typically they make endless demands for proof of identity that force the 'lads' to forge passports, bank accounts and documents.

Sometimes the lads are told to photograph themselves in ridiculous poses, with loaves of bread on their heads, or clutching signs with secret passwords.

A North Islander with the baiter name ScamTech said baiting was plain good fun.

He liked the thrill of the hunt, matching wits with strangers and getting 'trophy' photographs and false documents.

ScamTech did not think baiting was dangerous, but did not want the fraudsters to know his real identity. "They have been known to kill people who cause them trouble"

Auckland baiter Vek, aged 17, told a lad he was the head of a multi-national firm.

"Now I am convincing him to take photos of various clothing items and generally make a fool of himself. These people have pretty bad English and you get a laugh out of the lengths they will go to rip you off' Vek said.

Ministry of Consumer affairs spokeswoman said baiting was 'extremely dangerous and silly.

Every conversation with a fraudster gave snippets of personal information that could be used against that person, she said.

Nigeria is the source of endless computer-based attempts to encourage people to invest in get rich quick schemes

Don't try this at home because as the woman from the Ministry says - it is both dangerous AND silly


This baiting lark actualy sounds like good fun. Perhaps scores could be invented for obtaining specific items such as 10 points for a photo of the scammer, 20 points for a copy of a passport etc. We could then have a running total to see who is the King Baiter etc.

If we could get Chris Tarrant interrested..........