Do Nigerian Scam Artists Catch more Flies with Threats of Detainment?

by Linsey Knerl on 12 February 2009 9 comments

Thanks to the economy, it’s slow all around.  In fact, even those who run some of the most devious and damaging email scams are having to come up with new ways to try to steal your money.  The latest?  A part promise, part threat email from the “FBI” designed to protect the security of our country.  Oh, whatever will I do? 

 

It has all the makings of an entertaining read. 

I received the email this morning.  It had all the makings of a Nigerian Scam: misspelled words, strange typesetting, and many comedic references to government agencies that don’t really exist.  This particular email caught my eye as it came from “F.B.I Washingtom D.C.”  I’d never been there, but when the subject promised that I was “BEIGN WARNED FOR THE LAST TIME,” I had to see what was up. 

You see, up until now, I had successfully ignored all attempts to get my money.  Promises of inheritances from dying princes and thank-you gifts from God-fearing missionaries were all nabbed efficiently by my spam filter.  This time, however, the F.B.I and the inland Revenue Service (IRS) wished to remind me of millions of dollars (how much was not actually stated) that had been wire-transferred from overseas to a corresponding U.S. account, and all they needed was for me to take it.  The amazing part of it was that it came from -- guess who? – the Central Bank Of Nigeria[CBN].   

 

They lay down the law. 

But the oh-so-concerned FBI and IRS also wanted to remind me: 

“of the consequences of transferring such huge sums without complying fully with the legal provisions of the Financial and Allied Matters laws as amended in sub-section C (6) of 2003, which clearly indicates, that any monetory transaction in or out of the United States Of America, must undergo clearance for drug, terrorist and money laundry as that will guarantee that such funds are legitimately and legally acquired and does not have any criminal or terrorist involvement.” 

So they want me to have the money… but they also have me under suspicion of some kind of money laundering activity.  This is getting funny. 

They continue to ask me (in this rather lengthy 1,000 word email), to send verification to make sure I’m not a terrorist.  I’m sure that the info would be rather personal, would most likely involve credit accounts, social security numbers, and the like.  They instead ask me for my rap sheet to verify that I’m eligible for this money.  (Like I have a rap sheet.) 

 

When push comes to shove…. 

So now they go all “FBI” on my bum, giving me the following ultimatum (in all caps, no less):

“THESE CONDITION IS VALID UNTIL 15TH  OF FEBRUAURY 2009 AFTER WE SHALL TAKE ACTIONS ON CANCELLING THE PAYMENT AND THEN CHARGE YOU WITH THE  FOR ILLEGALLY MOVING FUNDS OUT OF NIGERIA.” 

Wow.  That’s getting kind of nasty.  I start to wonder if someone less versed in Nigerian scam efforts could potentially fall for this ruse.  They continue: 

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

“The very heart of FBI operations lies in our investigations, as our mission states, "to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats and to enforce the criminal laws of the United States. Please be warned! The F.B.I will not stop at any length in tracking down and prosecuting any criminal who indulges in this criminal act.” 

And go on again with: 

“WARNING: If you fail to produce the above requirement in 2 days,  legal action will be taken immediately by arresting and detaining you, justificated and if found guilty, you will be jailed. As terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering is a serious problem in our community today. The F.B.I will not stop at any length in tracking down and persecuting any criminal who indulge in this criminal act. FORWARD THE DOCUMENT TO US VIA EMAIL ATTACHEMENT AS SOON AS YOU OBTAIN IT.” 

Yeah, I get it. You’re going to justificate me.  (Whatever that means.  Now they are just making up words.) 

 

The Bottom Line Is This: 

Why am I telling you all this?  Do I think you wouldn’t know a scam when you see one?  Probably.  But we all have loved ones who may not have experienced something like this, and when threats are made to your freedom and liberty -- it’s a bit over the line. 

If you have a loved one who’s new to email (maybe Grandma just got a Dell for Christmas), take the time to tell them what’s up.  Give them all the information available at your state attorney general’s website (you can Google it.)   Have them read Catherine’s true story of How Scammers Stole all of her Grandma’s Money.  Stay up on all the new tricks, like home rental rip-offs on Craigslist.  Or just have a beer and a laugh with Paul Michael and the professional scam baiters.   

Just don’t do nothing… and don’t give out your personal info, rap sheet, or blood type to anyone (especially if they can’t spell “until.”)

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Guest's picture

The older people of society do fall victim to these type of things because of the generation gap with technology.

Laws are never what they seem. Most people do not realize it but by having a birth certificate (SS card etc..) you are owned by your government. The U.S.A went into debt that they could not pay back, so they started using people are collateral. This is how power overcame law, by granting corporations individual rights as people. This was done through a court decision.

Thank you for the reminder. My grandpa did get a new computer this year.

Guest's picture

Sounds like you need GMail. =)

Guest's picture

These emails are very entertaining. I sometimes do replies with some "choice" insults.

The unfunny part is there are people that fall for it-- otherwise these idiots wouldn't be doing it . . .

Guest's picture
Lucille

These are funny when your the one receiving them. You can laugh them off. There are so many people going online today, not just your grandparents that are easy marks. People who don't have much experience in life or ability to discern things like this for various reasons. They are also usually the last people who can afford to lose money.

There was a recent local story of a woman who embezzled money from the company she worked for a part of her being scammed in a 419 scam. I can't remember if it was to try to repay the negative bank balance or as part of the scam. Either way this is horribly sad and that woman is facing prison time in part due to a Nigerian scam.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Thanks for reminding us that victims can come from all segments of society.  Just as we have tech-savvy grandparents who would know better, there will be victims amongh those who are typically in a category of "should know better."  Unless you've heard about it, read up on the scams, and know the best practices for sending money and conducting business online, it could become easy to fall prey -- regardless of age, race, or  income-bracket.

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

The Nigerian Lotto scams - and all those of the sort - are interesting pieces of work. In some ways they are a stroke of genius and rife with all the right cliche's. It could be a movie if the details we're so mundane... the bad guys leverage an new, interesting, and to some scary technology and they plug away. They work hard and adapt. The FBI/IRS angle is a genius reinvention... now they can overcome trepedation by invoking 'trusted' paragons of authority within the US government. They have taken their negative image and wrapped it in the fabric of our government. The cliche of working as hard to do good as they do to perpetrate evil yielding better results probably fits well in this space.

And the other side of the equation is equally as interesting and disturbing. What does it say about someone who so wishes for the free path to wealth that they would so willingly fall into what is so obvious a trap - send me $1000 and I'll send you $1M... say it out loud. But rather, we have a huge segment of our society who looks for nothing but the quick fix.

I've heard that folks are most susceptible to scams - of all sorts - when they are either afriad or greedy. In today's economy these scams fit squarely at the instersection of both. The perfect storm is brewing - increased fear, increased greed, and 'endorsements' from the IRS and FBI... we're about to see this trend really take off

I've run long, but one more thought... last summer I listened to a This American Life podcast about these types of scams and a group of folks who baited the scammers and sort of scammed them back... a very compelling story and it's free on iTunes or Chicago Public Radio dot com

Guest's picture
Ann

I worked for a woman who fell for a Nigerian Scam;She has been involved with the scam for at least 8 years. She has lost her business, may lose her home. She fell for the Nigerian as he told her he loved her and wanted to marry her. My estimation of money lost is about 1 million. (not including her business and home) She is a greedy person and is not likely to navigate away from the scam. She believes 100 percent that the money will make it's way to her eventually. The sad thing is is that her employees lost their jobs and she has money coming to her in a trust every year that she can live on. I was told on a daily basis of the scam and tried to "make her see the light". She deserves what she gets is all I can say. I think these people need help but she didn't think about her employees and what it was doing to them financially. She is an educated woman and comes from a family that has money. It is nothing but greed on her part. I hate to admit it but I am bitter and I hope she loses in the end and ends up penniless and begging, that may be the only thing that would stop her!

Guest's picture

I have not heard of this version yet. These couple of years the 419ers seem to be come up with a number of variations. I have had those which start as "Dearest One....

and others which claim that I have been selected by some legal firm as the benefeciary of a huge fortune left by one their clients etc..

BTW, can we still assume that this is a purely Nigerian affair, though 419 does refer to a section in their penal code or something like that relating to crimes of this sort.

Guest's picture
Erik K. Weseman

The Nigerian scammers posing as the FBI threatening to charge you with supporting terrorism ARE the terrorists. There is a special place reserved in Hell just for them.