Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dealing with "Nigerian" scams

and other pleasant ways to pass an afternoon.

When I lived in Africa I used to love watching Nigerian movies. They were cheesier than "Plan 9 from Outer Space", they were mostly in English (for the broader African market) and full of ghosts, Witch Doctors, curses, demons, zombies and the like.

As it turns out many Nigerians tend to be somewhat superstitious and are often really into the whole "black magic" thing. This turns out to be an important bit of information.

By this time pretty much everyone has heard of the "Nigerian Scam" (AKA the 419 scam), you know the one "Dear sir/madam, it has come to our attention that you are the perfect person to help us transfer millions of dollars out of our country and you can keep half of it".

The people who run this scam are actually mostly from Nigeria, of the criminal class, and as it happens quite superstitious as a rule.

While threatening them with the law does not bother them in the least, I found something that does and have been sending it back to 419 scammers to great (and hilarious) effect for a while now. I send them a curse

Those of you who are fans of HP Lovecraft will recognize his hand in this. For playing on someone's superstitions, fiction is always better than fact.

I have gotten some real freak outs with this and at the very least you can bet that the scammer went to the local shaman to have the curse lifted (and paid handsomely for the service).

Well there is a new variation of the scam going on now.

What the scammers are doing now is hijacking someone's email and sending out letters to everyone in the address book claiming that they are the person, and that they are stranded in Nigeria with no money. "can you please help by wiring money asap?"

I got one such letter this morning. After calling my friend (who I knew was not stranded in Nigeria) to let him know that his email had been hacked) I have spent the day messing with the guy who was behind this. I told him that I would wire money and got his address, got him to go back and forth a couple of times on false starts. Then told him that the money was there, but he would have to use the name of the restaurant we last ate lunch at as a password to get it (without telling him what it was of course) and then finally sending him the "curse" above, with instructions that the password was hidden in it but that he would have to read the words out loud several times to find it.

He finally caught on :-)

Please feel free to copy the graphic and o send it to any Nigerian Scammers that might approch you. It works better than anything else I have tried.

The best curses are the ones the victim convinces himself are real.

(And these people have gone so far as murder in pursuit of their scams, so they deserve everything their imaginations can give them)


Brad said...

Oh, that is classic. I like the way you think. I'm going to have to borrow your idea now and use your picture.

Steve Perry said...

You are a wicked and evil fellow, Mustaq. (I mean that in a good way. Thanks for the morning smile.)

Mushtaq Ali said...

Steve, In a matter like this I take your words as high complement.

Sean said...

Beating Nigerian Scammers... is there anything the Old Ones cant do (when they aren't sleeping, of course)????


BBC reporter did a series on these guys, going so far as setting up meetings on hidden cameras... really amazing that for a while there they weren't just ripping off the naive or desperate

According to the BBC, there are actually schools in nigeria where they teach dumpster diving, phone scams, etc.

Jas. said...

Perhaps you've seen the encounter of "Randolph Carter" with the scammers?

It's one more example of the use of Lovecraftian ideas when dealing with such people.

And it's funny, too.

Doc D said...

What diabolical genius !!! Hilarious as well ! My hat is off to you .

Dan Gambiera said...

Tips from the pros and hilarious war stories galore can be found at 419 Eaters.

B said...

This makes waiting for my layover flight worth it :)

Silatyogi said...

this had me laughing on the floor!

Thorsten Behrens said...

Fun! That's excellent. Though, to make the curse more effective - would you be so kind as to "fix" the image to read "thief" instead of "theif", or release the PSD so I could do that myself?