Category Archives: Post A Day 2013

The Nigerian “Help Me!” Scams


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Have you received any letter written by a poor person asking for money? If so, beware! This is could be the prelude to “The Begging-Letter” scam.

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Nigerian Cyber Scammers (Source: http://antifraudintl.org/)
Users in a computer kiosk in Lagos, Nigeria. (Source: http://antifraudintl.org/)

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Now, the internet and mobile phones are a boon to the scammers as they provide a vehicle to convey their blatant solicitation by email and SMS.

The present day “help me” letters are variants of the confidence trick known as the ‘419 Scam’ perpetrated by the Nigerian Scammers. The number 419 refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud. It is found in Chapter 35 – “Offences analogous to Stealing” under the laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

A variation to this begging letter is the advance fee scheme in which a letter through traditional mail or email, offers the recipient the “opportunity to share” in a percentage of millions of dollars that the author, a self-proclaimed government official, is trying to transfer illegally out of Nigeria, or the family member or a kin of an affluent person who had met with a tragic accident, requesting help recover the money of their parents or kin from banks, etc. The author encourages the recipient to send information such as bank names and account numbers; facsimile of passport, driving licence, for identifying information; blank letterhead stationery of the recipient; and of course, an advance to defray the cost of expenses incurred for legal expenses, payment of taxes, bribes to bank and government officials with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are spirited out of Nigeria.

Though most law-abiding citizens are not impressed by such invitations, millions of dollars are lost to these schemes annually. Once the victim who falls for these schemes wakes up and stops sending money, the perpetrators use the personal information they received to impersonate the victim to drain the bank accounts.

The Nigerian government is not sympathetic to the victims who have actually conspired to remove funds from Nigeria violating section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code.

While the scam is not limited to Nigeria, the name “Nigeria” has become associated with almost all types of email frauds, and that nation has earned a reputation for being a center of email scam crimes.

In countries other than those in western Africa, a smart person with technical skills can find work in the electronics field and earn by helping their relatives, friends, neighbours, and acquaintances keep their computers running. Some even design websites to sell useful products. But the average Nigerians, have fewer opportunities, and they almost starve. So, most teenagers learn to fix things that are dumped. Soon after they learn to code and try to outsmart other people using their computers.

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Nigerian scammers (Source - httpgoodmenproject.com)
Nigerian scammers (Source: httpgoodmenproject.com)

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Years ago, at the very beginning, these scammers were viewed as modern day Robin Hoods in the back streets of Lagos, the center of the cyberscam universe, in the land of chronic unemployment. They were appreciated and lauded in popular music for swindling money from the undeserving outside the poor western Africa and thereby enriching themselves. The girls were eager to date them.

Genuine Nigerian businessmen had to bear the brunt of the sins committed by these scammers known as “Yahoo boys“.

Now, many ISPs restrict sending mass email if they originate from a sub-Saharan country. Many e-commerce sites block Nigerian ISPs. The Nigerian government, acceding to the request of the legitimate tech industry in the country, is tracking and cracking down on the scammers, now living underground.

Scammers in other nations such as Benin, India, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Russia, the Netherlands, the United States, South Africa, Spain, and Togo, also have got into the game.

Below are two mails that were in circulation as far back as 2002.

SGT. IDRIS LAWAL (RTD).

IKEJA MILITARY CANTONMENT

LAGOS, NIGERIA.

SOLICITING FOR HELP.

I am Sergent Idris Lawal (rtd). I heartily beg for your help. We were retired voluntarily by the commander in chief of armed forces of the country, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida during his tenure as president and commander in chief of the armed forces. Since then we have been living in the military barracks waiting for our benefits.

Some weeks ago fire gulped the armory section in the barracks and everywhere caught fire. The entire barracks exploded and many people lost their lives. The death toll was about 2000, while some were rendered homeless. Right now we have lost all we had, property, shelter, clothing, everything.

My wife and my two kids managed to survive,. Right now they are in the hospital. One of them needs surgery on her face. We have been advised by the hospital to pay the sum of N5,000,000.00(NAIRA) which is about US$50,000.00 to commence this operation. My inability to raise the said amount, keeps me in a state of frustration. We have access to computer. That is the only thing our government did for us.

I beg you in the name of GOD to kindly assist us with any amount of money to enable us to carry out this operation. Your assistance will highly be appreciated.

Please help us. God will bless you abundantly.

We await you response.

Sgt. Idris Lawal (rtd).

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N.G.O. Registration No. D.S.W./1379

Certificate of Incorporation No.G-7206

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are the CHILDREN POSTRITY AID, a non profit, non sectional, non political N.G.O based in the Aplaku Village, located in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.

OUR OBJECTIVES ARE AS FOLLOWS:

A. What is of paramount importance is our obligation to pay  the cost of educating the children when the parents are unable to, and fight against

HIV/AIDS in Ghana and Africa as a whole.

B. We advocate the rights o children in the line with international conventions

C. We protect the rights of children through a long term plan of building their capacity.

D. We provide self reliance at adulthood through career development and technical skill training.

E.  We protect the lives of the children against  S.T.D and HIV-AIDS pandemic.

E.  We raise consciousness about the effects on environmental degradation on economic development.

C.P.A. would really appreciate your views and thoughts of the above mentioned objectives as C.P.A. believe very strongly in bringing joy into the faces of under-privileged, deprived, refugees, able and disabled children in Ghana and other parts of Africa.

C.P.A. is writing to your organisation primarily to affiliate with your honourable organization to work together to help these children to be what God wants them to be. Please, these 483 children, made up of Ghanaian and Liberian refugee’s children, lack educational logistics such as  children’s literature books, computer books, used computers, educational toys, children’s clothing and any thing that will be of a great help to these children that none of us doesn’t know what they will be come in posterity.

I thank you so much in anticipating for your prompt reply.

Yours in the Lord’s Vineya

JONAS APPIAH.

(PROJECT DIRECTOR)

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Here is another interesting email I received at the beginning of this month. An appeal, almost a love letter, that addresses me as “dearest One!!!

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As-Salam Alyikum dearest One!!!

sonia

To

2 Dec

As-Salam Alyikum dearest One!!!

Please I apologies to you to exercise a little patience and read through my letter I feel quite safe dealing with you in this important business having gone through your remarkable profile, I will really like to have a good relationship with you and I have a special reason why I decided to contact you, I decided to contact you due to the urgency of my situation, My name is Sonia Aisha Khorovani Ahmed,24yrs old female and I held from Somalia in Eastern Africa.

My father {Late Mr.Khorovani Ahmed} was the former Somalia road Minister. He and his assistant Minister of Home Affairs Mr .Lorna Laboso had been on board the Cessna 210which was headed to Kericho and crashed in a remote area called Kajong’a, in western KENYA on one of his trip.I truly miss him,It’s painful to lose loved ones but life always has a meaning to be fulfilled according to God’s Plans.

After the burial of my late father,my stepmother and my uncle conspired and sold my father’s property which the shared the money among themselves and left nothing for me.On one faithful morning, I opened my father’s briefcase and found out the documents which he used to deposited huge amount of money in one of the leading with my name as the next of kin.

I traveled out side my country trying to contact the bank to withdraw the money for a better life so that I can take care of myself and start a new life, but it was my surprise that the Bank Director whom I have been contacting on this matter,told me that my father’s given instruction to the their bank that the money would only be release to me when I am married or if I could present a trusted foreigner partner who will help me and invest the money overseas.It was only on this vian I chose to search of an honest and reliable person who will help me and stand as my foreign trustee so that I will present him to the Bank for transfer of the money to his bank account overseas. I have chosen to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will not betray my trust, God willing.

You may wonder why I am so soon revealing myself to you without knowing you,to me I will say that my spirit convinced me that you may be the true person to help me,  The amount is( $7,500,000.00 USD Seven Million five hundred thousand United State Dollars, and I have confirmed from the bank that they will transfer the money as soon as I present a reliable foreign trustee.

If you can help me on this matter,you will also help me to place the money in a good profitable business venture in your Country or any place of your choice.  you will help by recommending a nice University in your country where I can complete my studies. However,it is my intention to compensate you with 30% of the total money for your efforts and kindness of services and the balance shall be our capital in establishment of our investment.

Please understand that,I am giving you all this information due to the trust I deposed on you and I would never want you to reveal this matter to any other person for now even to your best friend, what I mean here is that you should, Please do keep this matter to your self for now until the bank will transfer the fund.I hope you will understand me?

I like honest and truthful person, Angryand “LIES” I hate On our relationship, hence I am always very-extra-careful in my relationship with people as I always look forward to obtain good potential carrier as well if not death of my late father.

As soon as I receive your positive response showing your interest,I will inform the bank that am ready to present the foreign trustee who will receive the fund on my behalf and would also send you the bank details, Therefore, please do not fail to respond this message as soon as possible.

Yours

Miss.Sonia Aisha.Ahmed.

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In early October 2015, I received from a so-called “Rose Dion”. At first, she sent a friend request on Facebook page. I sent her a message saying that since she did not provide me sufficient details of herself I could not accept her as a friend on Facebook. Then on October 12, 2015, I received the following letter:

Rose Dion <rosedion24@hotmail.com>
12/10/15to me
Hello my dear
I am glad to write to you, how are you once again? I hope you are fine,
I thank God for you. Your message was a total relief to me. May God protect you for me because he is the one who brought you in my life. I will like him to make a way for you, my dear, i love the way you sound to me, and i will like you to help me to come out of this camp so that i come to your country and have a free life.In this camp, We are many living as refugees and our freedom is restricted because we do not have any traveling paper. It is just like one staying in the prison and i hope by Gods grace I will come out of here very soon. At the moment, i do not have any relative whom i can go to, all my relatives ran away in the middle of the war. The only person i have now is Reverend (Charles Anthony) who is the Reverend Minister in charge of the church here in the camp ( Eglise St; Paul grand yoff Dakar Senegal). He has been very nice to me since I came here but I am not living with him rather I am living in the woman hostel because the camp have two hostels one for men the other for women.

The Rev telephone number(+221763971460) His Email ( rev.charlesantonyholy@ymail.com ) I will like you to call him if you call tell him that you want to speak with me (Miss Rose Dion) he will send for me from female hostel to come and answer your call, since i don’t have tel phone of my own here, remain that i explained to him all your effort to free me out of this condition so fill free to call him by 12: pm GMT, to speak with me.As a refugee I do not have any right or privilege to any thing be it money or whatever because it is against the law of this country. Meanwhile, i am communicating with you through the Reverend Computer because is the only means we can communicate to each other .

Again I do not work nor do anything for living as a result of eating is very difficult for me as we are given food ones a day by 12 PM. And is too had for me here, I want to go back to my studies because i only attended my first year before the tragic incident that lead me to being in this situation now, i really want to come over in your country to be with you to live the rest of my life with you and have a free life, Please dear listen to this,i have my late father statement of account and death certificate with me here which i will send to you latter,because when my father was alive he deposited some amount of money in a leading bank in Europe which he used my name as the next of kin,

the amount in question is $4.9M(four Million Nine Hundred Thousand Dollars) I have informed this bank about my intention to claim my late father deposit and the bank said that i most to provide a foreign partner who will assist me in the transfer due to my refugee status here in Senegal. as a refugee i am not allowed direct claim of the money but through an appointed representative to the united refugee law governing, So i will like you to help me transfer this money to your account and from it you will send some money for me to get my traveling documents and air ticket to come over to meet with you.I kept this secret to people in the camp here the only person that knows about it is the Reverend Father because he is like a father to me.

So in the light of above i will like you to keep it to yourself and don’t tell it to anyone for i am afraid of loosing my life and the money if people gets to know about it.Remember i am giving you all this information due to the trust i deposed on you in other to help me get my freedom here to come over in your country for a better future.I like honest and understanding people,truthful and a person of vision,truth and hard working. Meanwhile I will you to send me your contact information such as your Age …..Your full name….Country&City…..Phone number…..so that i will get to know you well My favorite language is English , i speak English very fluently because both my father and mother studied in Europe .
.Mean while i will like you to call me like i said i have allot for you,
Have a nice day and think about me.
Awaiting to hear from you soonest.love and kiss
Yours.Rose Dion

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I replied:

From this message, I can see that you are fraud. I have received many other letters like this, but I must give credit to you for your letter is somewhat convincing but not enough.

So, please don’t try to  contact me again. 

Your letters will hereafter go to the trash bin.

Have you received any similar email? Were you tempted to respond to them? Did you respond and burnt your fingers?

Beware!

 

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“The Begging-Letter Writer” – an Article Written by Charles Dickens


The Begging-Letter Writer – A short story by Charles Dickens.

Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Lately, did you receive any email or posts on the social networks asking for money? If so, beware! This is could be the prelude to “The Begging-Letter” scam.

In a begging letter, a person claiming to be poor, or impoverished due to prevailing circumstances begs for money or help, from a rich person or a philanthropic organization. The writer asks for monetary assistance to meet the expenses for an emergency surgery, money for orphaned children, help to recover the money of their parents or kin from banks, and often offer a percentage of the recovered sum.

These begging letters are not new. Even as far back as the late 19th century scammers sent begging letters by traditional mail.

The Begging-Letter Writer” an Essay by Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens (1812-1870) (Source: Jeremiah Gurney / Heritage Auction Gallery)
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) (Source: Jeremiah Gurney / Heritage Auction Gallery)

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From the time Charles Dickens rose to fame with The Pickwick Papers, he was constantly plagued by begging-letter writers. In May 1850 edition of Household Words (Volume I, Magazine: No. 8), Dickens wrote an essay titled “The Begging-Letter Writer” wherein he describes examples of the many begging letters he had received over the years, and the ruses employed by their writers to gain funds from the recipients.

John Forster (1812–76)

John Forster (1812–76), a noted biographer, critic, essayist and historian, met Charles Dickens in 1836 while they worked as young journalists for the ‘True Sun‘. Forster became Dickens’ closest friend and trusted adviser. Dickens appointed him as his literary executor. After Dickens’ death, Forster published a biography of Charles Dickens in three volumes (1872–4).

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John Forster - Oil portrait by Charles Edward Perugini
John Forster – Oil portrait by Charles Edward Perugini

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In Volume 2, Ch. 8, Forster commented that there is not ‘a particle of exaggeration‘ in Dickens’s description of his victimization as narrated by him in “The Begging-Letter Writer“:

Once he [Daniel Tobin] wrote me rather a special letter, proposing relief in kind. He had got into a little trouble by leaving parcels of mud done up in brown paper, at people’s houses, on pretence of being a Railway-Porter, in which character he received carriage money. This sportive fancy he expiated in the House of Correction. Not long after his release, and on a Sunday morning, he called with a letter (having first dusted himself all over), in which he gave me to understand that, being resolved to earn an honest livelihood, he had been travelling about the country with a cart of crockery. That he had been doing pretty well until the day before, when his horse had dropped down dead near Chatham, in Kent. That this had reduced him to the unpleasant necessity of getting into the shafts himself, and drawing the cart of crockery to London — a somewhat exhausting pull of thirty miles. That he did not venture to ask again for money; but that if I would have the goodness TO LEAVE HIM OUT A DONKEY, he would call for the animal before breakfast!Forster adds, “for much of what he suffered he was himself responsible, by giving so largely, as at first he did, to almost everyone who applied to him“.

In the next paragraph, Dickens describes the case of John Walker, to whom Dickens had given money several times in 1844.

At another time, my friend (I am describing actual experiences) introduced himself as a literary gentleman in the last extremity of distress. He had had a play accepted at a certain Theatre — which was really open; its representation was delayed by the indisposition of a leading actor — who was really ill; and he and his were in a state of absolute starvation. If he made his necessities known to the Manager of the Theatre, he put it to me to say what kind of treatment he might expect? Well! we got over that difficulty to our mutual satisfaction. A little while afterwards he was in some other strait. I think Mrss . Southcote, his wife, was in extremity — and we adjusted that point too. A little while afterwards he had taken a new house, and was going headlong to ruin for want of a water-butt. I had my misgivings about the water-butt, and did not reply to that epistle. But a little while afterwards, I had reason to feel penitent for my neglect.

Walker continued to write begging letters, which Dickens ceased to answer until he got one telling him that Walker’s wife had died and begging ‘a few crumbs from your table‘ to feed the children. Dickens sent his brother Fred to check whether Walker was really in distress.

He wrote me a few broken-hearted lines, informing me that the dear partner of his sorrows died in his arms last night at nine o’clock!

I despatched a trusty messenger to comfort the bereaved mourner and his poor children; but the messenger went so soon, that the play was not ready to be played out; my friend was not at home, and his wife was in a most delightful state of health. He was taken up by the Mendicity Society (informally it afterwards appeared), and I presented myself at a London Police-Office with my testimony against him. The Magistrate was wonderfully struck by his educational acquirements, deeply impressed by the excellence of his letters, exceedingly sorry to see a man of his attainments there, complimented him highly on his powers of composition, and was quite charmed to have the agreeable duty of discharging him. A collection was made for the ‘poor fellow,’ as he was called in the reports, and I left the court with a comfortable sense of being universally regarded as a sort of monster. Next day comes to me a friend of mine, the governor of a large prison. ‘Why did you ever go to the Police-Office against that man,’ says he, ‘without coming to me first? I know all about him and his frauds. He lodged in the house of one of my warders, at the very time when he first wrote to you; and then he was eating spring-lamb at eighteen-pence a pound, and early asparagus at I don’t know how much a bundle!’ On that very same day, and in that very same hour, my injured gentleman wrote a solemn address to me, demanding to know what compensation I proposed to make him for his having passed the night in a ‘loathsome dungeon.’

Have you received any similar email?
Were you tempted to respond to them?
Did you respond and burnt your fingers?

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The Controversial BBC Documentary “India’s Daughter”


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Stop violence against women

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India's Daughter (Custom)

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The controversial BBC documentary “India’s Daughter” directed by the British filmmaker, Ms. Leslee Udwin, banned in India, made it to the World Wide Web.

The documentary focuses on the horrific case of the brutally beaten and gang-raped Jyoti Singh on December 16, 2012 in New Delhi. The incident sent shock waves around the world and led to protests all over India demanding changes in attitudes towards women.

Mukesh Singh, the Delhi rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back (Source: bbc.com)

Mukesh Singh, the Delhi rapist says victim shouldn’t have fought back (Source: bbc.com)

Mukesh Singh, one of the four rapists, now facing the death penalty, recounts his crime by talking to the camera.  He does not show the slightest regret. He does not seem to have understood the gravity of his actions, nor the actions of his criminal companions. He just says:

The 15 or 20 minutes of the incident, I was driving the bus. They switched off the lights. My brother was the main guy. They hit the boy and he just hid between the seats. The girl was screaming, “Help me! Help me!

My brother said, “Don’t stop the bus. Keep driving!

They hit her and dragged her to the back. Then they went in turns. First the juvenile and Ram Singh. After that, Akshay and the rest went. Someone put his hand inside her and pulled out something long. It was her intestines.

He said, “She’s dead. Throw her out quickly.

First, they tried the back door, but it didn’t open. So, they dragged her to the front. They threw her out.

My drunk state wore off completely. I couldn’t even control the steering. I only drove the bus. It’s lies that my brother or Akshay
took the steering. Only I drove.

People say this happened, that happened, that the driver was changed. Show me how we changed drivers, and I’ll accept I also
went to the back and killed her.

We went straight home. They were saying, “Where’s their stuff?

It was in the front. The mobile, the watch.

Pawan put the shoes on, Akshay put the jacket on. They wore the stuff. They had no fear.

And on the way, the juvenile said: “Sir, I threw it away… What I pulled out of her body I threw it away. I wrapped it in cloth and threw it out.”

We reached home in about 10 minutes.

We agreed no one would say anything, and if the police got involved, no one would name names.

There was a lot of blood. Blood on the seats, blood on the floor. Akshay and the juvenile both cleaned the bus.

Vinay had a lot of blood on his hands. He washed them at my house.

I went to sleep.

I can’t say why this incident – this accident – happened. Mainly to teach them a lesson.

My brother had done such things before, but this time his intention was not to rape or fight. He had the right to explain to them. He asked the boy why he was out with a girl so late at night.

The boy said, “It’s none of your business,” and slapped him.

There was fighting, beating. Those who raped, raped.

They thought that if they do “wrong things” with them, then they won’t tell anyone out of shame. They’d learn a lesson.

When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after doing her, and only hit the boy.

People say, when you hang, they put this on your neck. The eyes pop out, the tongue sticks out, that’s what they say. They’ve made this such a big issue. People have committed bigger crimes, and nothing had happened to them. In Barabanki after the rape, her eyes were taken out. Sometimes they put acid on girls. There was another rape where they burnt her alive. Wasn’t that wrong? If ours is wrong, then that was wrong too.

The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Before, they would rape and say, “Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.” Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.

In the film, the convict Mukesh Singh’s comments are not the only ones that shock the audience. Despicable and disturbing are the warped misogynistic ideas and comments voiced with great flourish by M.L. Sharma and A.P. Singh, the two lawyers representing the rapists..

M.L. Sharma, Defence Lawyer for the rapists (Custom)

Lawyer  M.L. Sharma says in the film:

“That girl was with some unknown boy who took her on a date. In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person.”

“They left our Indian culture. They were under the imagination of the filmy culture, in which they can do anything. “

“She should not be put on the streets just like food. The ‘lady’, on the other hand, you can say the ‘girl’ or ‘woman’, are more precious than a gem, than a diamond. It is up to you how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can’t stop it.”

“You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. A woman means I immediately put the sex in his eyes. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”

“He would like to create a damage. He will put his hand… Insert, hit! It is just like that kind of action. Beat him. Putting his hand forcefully inside. “

A.P. Singh, Defence Lawyer for the rapists (Custom)

Lawyer A.P. Singh says in the film:

 “If very important or very necessary, she should go outside, but she should go with their family member like uncle, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, etc., etc. She should not go in night hours with her boyfriend… “

“If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight. This is my stand. I still today stand by that reply.”

“A number of criminal cases of murder, robbery, rape are pending against approximately 250 members of parliament. Sitting members of parliament. But their cases are not being tried in fast-track courts. Their cases are not being tried based on day-to-day hearings. Why? If you want to give a message to society against rape, against robbery, against murder, then you should start from your own neck.”

Puneeta Devi, wife of Akshay Thakur (Custom)

In one scene Puneeta Devi, wife of Akshay Thakur asks:

“Am I not a daughter of this country? Don’t I have the right to live? Will there be no more rapes in Delhi? Will you hang all rapists? A woman is protected by her husband. If he’s dead, who will protect her and for whom will she live? I also don’t want to live. Priyanshu, my son, is a child. He understands nothing. I will strangle him to death. what else can I do?”

Delhi Police  trying to quell rioting by demonstators (Source: qz.com)
Delhi Police trying to quell rioting by demonstators (Source: qz.com)

These and other scenes showing force used by the Delhi Police while trying to quell the protests by students and the public has led to the ban of this documentary film in India.

Director Ms. Leslee Udwin said:

“I have constantly stressed this is not an Indian problem, it is a global problem. I remain confident that this film will be a powerful tool for change.”

Each year the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th. The film was due to be aired in the United Kingdom on Sunday, March 8, 2015 to coincide with IWD. In the wake of attempts by the Indian government to block the release of the film worldwide BBC brought its broadcast forward. BBC Four broadcast it on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 3:30 am IST.

The BBC said that nearly 300,000 viewers tuned in to watch the film and received only 32 complaints against it.

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Jyoti 1989-2012 (Custom).

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Even an Elephant Can Slip!


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Like most people, each morning I read my favourite newspaper while sipping hot coffee. My favourite newspaper? It is the Deccan Chronicle (Chennai edition).

Yesterday (Sunday, December 29, 2013), I was intrigued by a news captioned “Hindu married to non-Hindu can’t get divorce: HC” on page 7.

An elephant too can slip - Full page
Page 7, Deccan Chronicle (Chennai edition) Sunday, December 29, 2013 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

I was in for a shock. The news that followed had nothing, even an iota, to reflect the caption.

An elephant too can slip - news clip
News on Page 7, Deccan Chronicle (Chennai edition) Sunday, December 29, 2013 (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

So, the adage: “Even an elephant can slip,” has once again come true!

If you are curious you can read the news in “The Times of India” under the title: “Hindu married to non-Hindu can’t get divorce under Hindu Marriage Act: Bombay high court” (PTI | Dec 28, 2013).

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Did You Receive Any Scam E-Mail Lately? Did You Respond to It?


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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On August 15, 2012, I posted an article titled “Ontario Lottery Corporation Scam” and to date 53,085 visitors to my site have viewed it.

This month alone I have received many scam email:

Jumb scam

 

Norvin Sepulveda scam

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Coca-Cola scam

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Here is another interesting mail I received at the beginning of this month. An appeal, almost a love letter, that addresses me as “dearest One!!!

As-Salam Alyikum dearest One!!!

sonia

To

2 Dec

As-Salam Alyikum dearest One!!!

Please I apologies to you to exercise a little patience and read through my letter I feel quite safe dealing with you in this important business having gone through your remarkable profile, I will really like to have a good relationship with you and I have a special reason why I decided to contact you, I decided to contact you due to the urgency of my situation,My name is Sonia Aisha Khorovani Ahmed,24yrs old female and I held from Somalia in Eastern Africa.

My father {Late Mr.Khorovani Ahmed} was the former Somalia road Minister. He and his assistant Minister of Home Affairs Mr.Lorna Laboso had been on board the Cessna 210,which was headed to Kericho and crashed in a remote area called Kajong’a, in western KENYA on one of his trip.I truly miss him,It’s painful to lose loved ones but life always has a meaning to be fulfilled according to God’s Plans.

After the burial of my late father,my stepmother and my uncle conspired and sold my father’s property which the shared the money among themselves and left nothing for me.On one faithful morning, I opened my father’s briefcase and found out the documents which he used to deposited huge amount of money in one of the leading with my name as the next of kin.

I traveled out side my country trying to contact the bank to withdraw the money for a better life so that I can take care of myself and start a new life, but it was my surprise that the Bank Director whom I have been contacting on this matter,told me that my father’s given instruction to the their bank that the money would only be release to me when I am married or if I could present a trusted foreigner partner who will help me and invest the money overseas.It was only on this vian I chose to search of an honest and reliable person who will help me and stand as my foreign trustee so that I will present him to the Bank for transfer of the money to his bank account overseas. I have chosen to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will not betray my trust, God willing.

You may wonder why I am so soon revealing myself to you without knowing you,to me I will say that my spirit convinced me that you may be the true person to help me,  The amount is( $7,500,000.00 USD )Seven Million five hundred thousand United State Dollars, and I have confirmed from the bank that they will transfer the money as soon as I present a reliable foreign trustee.

If you can help me on this matter,you will also help me to place the money in a good profitable business venture in your Country or any place of your choice. you will help by recommending a nice University in your country where I can complete my studies. However,it is my intention to compensate you with 30% of the total money for your efforts and kindness of services and the balance shall be our capital in establishment of our investment.

Please understand that,I am giving you all this information due to the trust I deposed on you and I would never want you to reveal this matter to any other person for now even to your best friend, what I mean here is that you should, Please do keep this matter to your self for now until the bank will transfer the fund.I hope you will understand me?

I like honest and truthful person, Angry,and “LIES”I hate On our relationship, hence I am always very-extra-careful in my relationship with people as I always look forward to obtain good potential carrier as well if not death of my late father.

As soon as I receive your positive response showing your interest,I will inform the bank that am ready to present the foreign trustee who will receive the fund on my behalf and would also send you the bank details, Therefore, please do not fail to respond this message as soon as possible.

Yours

Miss.Sonia Aisha.Ahmed.

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Di+ you notice the punctuation and absence of space before the beginning of news sentences in the above letter?

Have you received any similar email? Were you tempted to respond to them? Di you respond and burnt your fingers?

These emails are just preludes to one of the most common types of confidence trick known as the ‘419 Scam’, ‘Advance Fee Scam’, ‘Black Money Scam’, ‘Fifo Fraud’, ‘Nigerian Scams’, ‘Spanish Prisoner Scam’, and by many other names.

Earlier, scammers used traditional mail and fax to perpetrate this form of scam. Now, after the advent of the internet and mobile phones, email and SMS are used blatantly.

The number “419” refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud. In Chapter 35 – “Offences analogous to Stealing” under the laws of the Federation of Nigeria. Article 419 reads as follows:

419.   Any person who by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud, obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen, or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.

If the thing is of the value of one thousand naira or upwards, he is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

It is immaterial that the thing is obtained or its delivery is induced through the medium of a contract induced by the false pretence.

The offender cannot be arrested without warrant unless found committing the offence.

419A.
(1)  Any person who by any false pretence or by means of any other fraud obtains credit for himself or any other person-

(a)  in incurring any debt or liability; or
(b  by means of an entry in a debtor and creditor account between the person giving and the person receiving credit, is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three years

  (2)  The offender cannot be arrested without warrant unless found committing the offence.

419B.  Where in any proceedings for anoffence under section 419 or 419A it is proved that the accused-

(a)  obtained or induced the delivery of anything capable of being stolen; or
(b)  obtained credit for himself or any other person, by means of a cheque that, when presented for payment within a reasonable time, was dishonoured on the ground that no funds or insufficient funds were standing to the credit of the drawer of the cheque in the bank on which the cheque was drawn, the thing or its delivery shall be deemed to have been obtained or induced, or the credit shall he deemed to have been obtained, by a false pretence unless the court is satisfied by evidence that when the accused issued the cheque he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did in fact believe, that it would be honoured if presented for payment within a reasonable time after its issue by him.

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While the scam is not limited to Nigeria, the nation has become associated with this fraud and it has earned a reputation for being a center of email scam crimes. Other nations that are known to have a high incidence of advance-fee fraud include Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo, South Africa, Russia, Pakistan, India, the United States, the Netherlands, and Spain.

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Beware of the Age-old ‘Begging-Letter’ Scam!


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Myself . 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Have you received any letter written by a poor person asking for money? If so, beware! This is could be the prelude to “The Begging-Letter” scam.

In a begging letter, the person claiming to be poor, begs for money or help, usually from a rich person or a philanthropic organization. They ask for monetary assistance to meet the expenses for an emergency surgery, money for orphaned children, or offering a percentage to help recover the money of their parents or kin from banks, etc.

This is not new. Even in the late 19th century scammers sent begging letters scam by traditional mail.

The Begging-Letter Writer” an Essay by Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens (1812-1870) (Source: Jeremiah Gurney / Heritage Auction Gallery)
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) (Source: Jeremiah Gurney / Heritage Auction Gallery)

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From the time Charles Dickens rose to fame with The Pickwick Papers, he was constantly plagued by begging-letter writers. In May 1850 edition of Household Words (Volume I, Magazine : No. 8), Dickens wrote an essay titled “The Begging-Letter Writer” wherein he describes examples of the many begging letters he had received over the years, and the ruses employed by their writers to gain funds from the recipients.

John Forster (1812–76)

John Forster - Oil portrait by Charles Edward Perugini
John Forster – Oil portrait by Charles Edward Perugini

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John Forster (1812–76) was a noted biographer, critic, essayist and historian. Forster met Charles Dickens in 1836 while both worked as young journalists for the ‘True Sun‘. Forster became Dickens’ closest friend and trusted adviser. Dickens appointed him as his literary executor. After Dickens’ death, Forster published a biography of Charles Dickens in three volumes (1872–4).

In Volume 2, Ch. 8, Forster commented that there is not ‘a particle of exaggeration‘ in Dickens’s description of his victimization as narrated by him in “The Begging-Letter Writer“:

Once he [Daniel Tobin] wrote me rather a special letter, proposing relief in kind. He had got into a little trouble by leaving parcels of mud done up in brown paper, at people’s houses, on pretence of being a Railway- Porter, in which character he received carriage money. This sportive fancy he expiated in the House of Correction. Not long after his release, and on a Sunday morning, he called with a letter (having first dusted himself all over), in which he gave me to understand that, being resolved to earn an honest livelihood, he had been travelling about the country with a cart of crockery. That he had been doing pretty well until the day before, when his horse had dropped down dead near Chatham, in Kent. That this had reduced him to the unpleasant necessity of getting into the shafts himself, and drawing the cart of crockery to London – a somewhat exhausting pull of thirty miles. That he did not venture to ask again for money; but that if I would have the goodness TO LEAVE HIM OUT A DONKEY, he would call for the animal before breakfast!

Forster adds, ‘for much of what he suffered he was himself responsible, by giving so largely, as at first he did, to almost everyone who applied to him’.

In the next paragraph Dickens describes the case of John Walker, to whom Dickens had given money several times in 1844.

At another time, my friend (I am describing actual experiences) introduced himself as a literary gentleman in the last extremity of distress. He had had a play accepted at a certain Theatre – which was really open; its representation was delayed by the indisposition of a leading actor – who was really ill; and he and his were in a state of absolute starvation. If he made his necessities known to the Manager of the Theatre, he put it to me to say what kind of treatment he might expect? Well! we got over that difficulty to our mutual satisfaction. A little while afterwards he was in some other strait. I think Mrs. Southcote, his wife, was in extremity – and we adjusted that point too. A little while afterwards he had taken a new house, and was going headlong to ruin for want of a water-butt. I had my misgivings about the water- butt, and did not reply to that epistle. But a little while afterwards, I had reason to feel penitent for my neglect.

Walker continued to write begging letters, which Dickens ceased to answer until he got one telling him that Walker’s wife had died and begging ‘a few crumbs from your table‘ to feed the children. Dickens sent his brother Fred to check whether Walker was really in distress.

He wrote me a few broken-hearted lines, informing me that the dear partner of his sorrows died in his arms last night at nine o’clock!

I despatched a trusty messenger to comfort the bereaved mourner and his poor children; but the messenger went so soon, that the play was not ready to be played out; my friend was not at home, and his wife was in a most delightful state of health. He was taken up by the Mendicity Society (informally it afterwards appeared), and I presented myself at a London Police-Office with my testimony against him. The Magistrate was wonderfully struck by his educational acquirements, deeply impressed by the excellence of his letters, exceedingly sorry to see a man of his attainments there, complimented him highly on his powers of composition, and was quite charmed to have the agreeable duty of discharging him. A collection was made for the ‘poor fellow,’ as he was called in the reports, and I left the court with a comfortable sense of being universally regarded as a sort of monster. Next day comes to me a friend of mine, the governor of a large prison. ‘Why did you ever go to the Police-Office against that man,’ says he, ‘without coming to me first? I know all about him and his frauds. He lodged in the house of one of my warders, at the very time when he first wrote to you; and then he was eating spring-lamb at eighteen-pence a pound, and early asparagus at I don’t know how much a bundle!’ On that very same day, and in that very same hour, my injured gentleman wrote a solemn address to me, demanding to know what compensation I proposed to make him for his having passed the night in a ‘loathsome dungeon.’

The Nigerian “Help Me!” Scams

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Nigerian Cyber Scammers (Source: http://antifraudintl.org/)
Users in a computer kiosk in Lagos, Nigeria. (Source: http://antifraudintl.org/)

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Now, the internet and mobile phones are a boon to the scammers as they provide a vehicle to convey their blatant solicitation by email and SMS.

The present day “help me” letters are variants of the confidence trick known as the ‘419 Scam’ perpetrated by the Nigerian Scammers. The number 419 refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud. It is found in Chapter 35 – “Offences analogous to Stealing” under the laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

A variation to this begging letter is the advance fee scheme in which a letter through traditional mail or email, offers the recipient the “opportunity to share” in a percentage of millions of dollars that the author, a self-proclaimed government official, is trying to transfer illegally out of Nigeria, or the family member or a kin of an affluent person who had met with a tragic accident, requesting help recover the money of their parents or kin from banks, etc. The author encourages the recipient to send information such as bank names and account numbers; facsimile of passport, driving licence, for identifying information; blank letterhead stationery of the recipient; and of course, an advance to defray the cost of expenses incurred for legal expenses, payment of taxes, bribes to bank and government officials with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are spirited out of Nigeria.

Though most law-abiding citizens are not impressed by such invitations, millions of dollars are lost to these schemes annually. Once the victim who falls for these schemes wakes up and stops sending money, the perpetrators use the personal information they received to impersonate the victim to drain the bank accounts.

The Nigerian government is not sympathetic to the victims who have actually conspired to remove funds from Nigeria violating section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code.

While the scam is not limited to Nigeria, the name “Nigeria” has become associated with almost all types of email frauds, and that nation has earned a reputation for being a center of email scam crimes.

In countries other than those in western Africa, a smart person with technical skills can find work in the electronics field and earn by helping their relatives, friends, neighbours, and acquaintances keep their computers running. Some even design websites to sell useful products. But the average Nigerians, have fewer opportunities, and they almost starve. So, most teenagers learn to fix things that are dumped. Soon after they learn to code and try to outsmart other people using their computers.

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Nigerian scammers (Source - httpgoodmenproject.com)
Nigerian scammers (Source: httpgoodmenproject.com)

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Years ago, at the very beginning, these scammers were viewed as modern day Robin Hoods in the back streets of Lagos, the center of the cyberscam universe, in the land of chronic unemployment. They were appreciated and lauded in popular music for swindling money from the undeserving outside the poor western Africa and thereby enriching themselves. The girls were eager to date them.

Genuine Nigerian businessmen had to bear the brunt of the sins committed by these scammers known as “Yahoo boys“.

Now, many ISPs restrict sending mass email if they originate from a sub-Saharan country. Many e-commerce sites block Nigerian ISPs. The Nigerian government, acceding to the request of the legitimate tech industry in the country, is tracking and cracking down on the scammers, now living underground.

Scammers in other nations such as Benin, India, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Russia, the Netherlands, the United States, South Africa, Spain, and Togo, also have got into the game.

Below are two mails that were in circulation as far back as 2002.

SGT. IDRIS LAWAL (RTD).

IKEJA MILITARY CANTONMENT

LAGOS, NIGERIA.

SOLICITING FOR HELP.

I am Sergent Idris Lawal (rtd). I heartily beg for your help. We were retired voluntarily by the commander in chief of armed forces of the country, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida during his tenure as president and commander in chief of the armed forces. Since then we have been living in the military barracks waiting for our benefits.

Some weeks ago fire gulped the armory section in the barracks and everywhere caught fire. The entire barracks exploded and many people lost their lives. The death toll was about 2000, while some were rendered homeless. Right now we have lost all we had, property, shelter, clothing, everything.

My wife and my two kids managed to survive,. Right now they are in the hospital. One of them needs surgery on her face. We have been advised by the hospital to pay the sum of N5,000,000.00(NAIRA) which is about US$50,000.00 to commence this operation. My inability to raise the said amount, keeps me in a state of frustration. We have access to computer. That is the only thing our government did for us.

I beg you in the name of GOD to kindly assist us with any amount of money to enable us to carry out this operation. Your assistance will highly be appreciated.

Please help us. God will bless you abundantly.

We await you response.

Sgt. Idris Lawal (rtd).

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N.G.O. Registration No. D.S.W./1379

Certificate of Incorporation No.G-7206

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are the CHILDREN POSTRITY AID, a non profit, non sectional, non political N.G.O based in the Aplaku Village, located in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.

OUR OBJECTIVES ARE AS FOLLOWS:

A. What is of paramount importance is our obligation to pay  the cost of educating the children when the parents are unable to, and fight against

HIV/AIDS in Ghana and Africa as a whole.

B. We advocate the rights o children in the line with international conventions

C. We protect the rights of children through a long term plan of building their capacity.

D. We provide self reliance at adulthood through career development and technical skill training.

E.  We protect the lives of the children against  S.T.D and HIV-AIDS pandemic.

E.  We raise consciousness about the effects on environmental degradation on economic development.

C.P.A. would really appreciate your views and thoughts of the above mentioned objectives as C.P.A. believe very strongly in bringing joy into the faces of under-privileged, deprived, refugees, able and disabled children in Ghana and other parts of Africa.

C.P.A. is writing to your organisation primarily to affiliate with your honourable organization to work together to help these children to be what God wants them to be. Please, these 483 children, made up of Ghanaian and Liberian refugee’s children, lack educational logistics such as  children’s literature books, computer books, used computers, educational toys, children’s clothing and any thing that will be of a great help to these children that none of us doesn’t know what they will be come in posterity.

I thank you so much in anticipating for your prompt reply.

Yours in the Lord’s Vineya

JONAS APPIAH.

(PROJECT DIRECTOR)

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Here is another interesting email I received at the beginning of this month. An appeal, almost a love letter, that addresses me as “dearest One!!!

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As-Salam Alyikum dearest One!!!

sonia

To

2 Dec

As-Salam Alyikum dearest One!!!

Please I apologies to you to exercise a little patience and read through my letter I feel quite safe dealing with you in this important business having gone through your remarkable profile, I will really like to have a good relationship with you and I have a special reason why I decided to contact you, I decided to contact you due to the urgency of my situation, My name is Sonia Aisha Khorovani Ahmed,24yrs old female and I held from Somalia in Eastern Africa.

My father {Late Mr.Khorovani Ahmed} was the former Somalia road Minister. He and his assistant Minister of Home Affairs Mr .Lorna Laboso had been on board the Cessna 210which was headed to Kericho and crashed in a remote area called Kajong’a, in western KENYA on one of his trip.I truly miss him,It’s painful to lose loved ones but life always has a meaning to be fulfilled according to God’s Plans.

After the burial of my late father,my stepmother and my uncle conspired and sold my father’s property which the shared the money among themselves and left nothing for me.On one faithful morning, I opened my father’s briefcase and found out the documents which he used to deposited huge amount of money in one of the leading with my name as the next of kin.

I traveled out side my country trying to contact the bank to withdraw the money for a better life so that I can take care of myself and start a new life, but it was my surprise that the Bank Director whom I have been contacting on this matter,told me that my father’s given instruction to the their bank that the money would only be release to me when I am married or if I could present a trusted foreigner partner who will help me and invest the money overseas.It was only on this vian I chose to search of an honest and reliable person who will help me and stand as my foreign trustee so that I will present him to the Bank for transfer of the money to his bank account overseas. I have chosen to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will not betray my trust, God willing.

You may wonder why I am so soon revealing myself to you without knowing you,to me I will say that my spirit convinced me that you may be the true person to help me,  The amount is( $7,500,000.00 USD Seven Million five hundred thousand United State Dollars, and I have confirmed from the bank that they will transfer the money as soon as I present a reliable foreign trustee.

If you can help me on this matter,you will also help me to place the money in a good profitable business venture in your Country or any place of your choice.  you will help by recommending a nice University in your country where I can complete my studies. However,it is my intention to compensate you with 30% of the total money for your efforts and kindness of services and the balance shall be our capital in establishment of our investment.

Please understand that,I am giving you all this information due to the trust I deposed on you and I would never want you to reveal this matter to any other person for now even to your best friend, what I mean here is that you should, Please do keep this matter to your self for now until the bank will transfer the fund.I hope you will understand me?

I like honest and truthful person, Angryand “LIES” I hate On our relationship, hence I am always very-extra-careful in my relationship with people as I always look forward to obtain good potential carrier as well if not death of my late father.

As soon as I receive your positive response showing your interest,I will inform the bank that am ready to present the foreign trustee who will receive the fund on my behalf and would also send you the bank details, Therefore, please do not fail to respond this message as soon as possible.

Yours

Miss.Sonia Aisha.Ahmed.

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Have you received any similar email? Were you tempted to respond to them? Did you respond and burnt your fingers?

Beware!

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This is Communal Harmony in My Beloved India


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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United We StandTHIS IS MY BELOVED INDIA!

Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis …

” And peace on Earth to people of good will …”

This is India - Merry Christmas!
This is India – Merry Christmas!

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I came across the above fabulous photo on the internet. Do you like it? What message does it convey?

Here are some photographs I came across while surfing the net. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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The vow of Hindu-Muslim unity

Talking about communal harmony on April 8, 1919, Mahatma Gandhi said:

“If the Hindu-Muslim communities could be united in one bond of mutual friendship and if each could act towards the other as children of the same mother, it would be a consummation devoutly to be wished. But before this unity becomes a reality, both the communities will have to give up a good deal, and will have to make radical changes in ideas held herefore. Members of one community when talking about those of the other at times indulge in terms so vulgar that they but acerbate the relations between the two. In Hindu society, we do not hesitate to indulge in unbecoming language when talking of the Mohammedans and vice-versa. Many believe that an ingrained and ineradicable animosity exists between the Hindus and
Mohammedans.

“When both are inspired by the spirit of sacrifice, when both try to do their duty towards one another instead of pressing their rights, then and then only would the long-standing differences between the two communities cease. Each must respect the other’s religion, must refrain from even secretly thinking ill of the other. We must politely dissuade members of both communities from indulging in bad language against one another. Only a serious endeavour in this direction can remove the estrangement between us.” (25:201-202)

He made the members present take a vow as under:

“With God as the witness, we Hindus and Mohammedans declare that we shall behave towards one another as children of the same parents, that we shall have no differences, that the sorrows of each shall be the sorrows of the other and that each shall help the other in removing them. We shall respect each other’s religion and religious feelings and shall not stand in the way of our respective religious practices. We shall always refrain from violence to each other in the name of religion.”

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I Wish You “A Merry Christmas”!


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Merry Christmas, Joeyeux Noel

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“Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis …”

” And peace on Earth to people of good will …”

“Ek wens dat julle almal ‘n Geseënde Kersfees!” (Afrikaans)

“Unë ju uroj gjithë Gëzuar Krishtlindjet!” (Albanian)

“أتمنى لكم جميعا عيد ميلاد سعيد!” (Arabic)

«Ցանկանում եմ ձեզ, որ Սուրբ Ծնունդ»: (Armenian)

“Mən bütün Merry Christmas arzulayıram!” (Azerbaijani)

“Nahi dut Eguberri guztiak ” (Basque)

“Я жадаю вам усім шчаслівага Каляд!” (Belarusian)

“আমি আশা করি সমস্ত একটি শুভ বড়দিন আপনি!” (Bengali)

“Пожелавам на всички Весела Коледа!” (Bulgarian)

“Els desitjo a tots un Bon Nadal!” (Catalan)

“祝大家圣诞快乐!” (Chinese simplified)

“祝大家聖誕快樂!” (Chinese traditional)

“Volio bih da svi Sretan Božić!” (Croatian)

“Já Přeji vám všem veselé Vánoce!” (Czech)

“Jeg ønsker jer alle en glædelig jul!” (Danish)

“Ik wens jullie allemaal een vrolijk kerstfeest!” (Dutch)

“Mi Wish You Ĉiu Merry Christmas!” (Esperanto)

“Soovin teile kõigile Häid jõule!” (Estonian)

“Hinihiling ko mo ng Lahat ng Maligayang Pasko!” (Filipino)

“Toivotan kaikille hyvää joulua!” (Finnish)

«Je vous souhaite à tous un Joyeux Noël!” (French)

“Desexo a todos un Feliz Nadal!” (Galician)

“გისურვებთ შობა!” (Georgian)

“Ich wünsche Ihnen allen ein frohes Weihnachtsfest!” (German)

«Εύχομαι σε όλους Καλά Χριστούγεννα!” (Greek)

“હું તમને શુભેચ્છા એક બધા મેરી ક્રિસમસ!” (Gujarati)

“Mwen swete nou tout yon jwayeu Nwèl!” (Haitian Creole)

“אני מאחל לכולכם חג המולד שמח!” (Hebrew)

“मैं तुम चाहो सभी एक मेरी क्रिसमस!” (Hindi)

“Azt szeretném, ha minden Boldog Karácsonyt!” (Hungarian)

“Ég óska ykkur öllum gleðilegra jóla!” (Icelandic)

“Saya berharap Anda semua Merry Christmas!” (Indonesian)

“Is mian liom tú go léir ar na Nollag Merry!” (Irish)

“Auguro a tutti un Buon Natale!” (Italian)

“私はあなたにすべてのメリークリスマスを望む!” (Japanese)

“ನಾನು ನೀವು ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಒಂದು ಮೆರ್ರಿ ಕ್ರಿಸ್ಮಸ್ ವಿಶ್!” (Kannada)

“난 당신에게 모든 메리 크리스마스를 기원!” (Korean)

“ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າຢາກທ່ານທັງຫມົດເປັນ Merry ວັນຄຣິດສະມາດ!” (Lao)

“Tibi opto a Verbum Caro!” (Latin)

“Es novēlu jums visu priecīgus Ziemassvētkus!” (Latvian)

“Linkiu visiems linksmų Kalėdų!” (Lithunian)

“Ви посакувам на сите Среќен Божиќ!” (Macedonian)

“Saya Mahu Anda Semua Merry Krismas!” (Malay)

“Nixtieq lilkom ilkoll Milied kuntenti ħienja!” (Maltese)

“Jeg ønsker dere alle en riktig God Jul!” (Norwegian)

“من برای شما آرزوی همه کریسمس مبارک!” (Persian)

“Życzę wszystkim Wesołych Świąt!” (Polish)

“Desejo a todos um Feliz Natal!” (Portugese)

“Vă doresc tuturor un Crăciun Fericit!” (Romanian)

“Я желаю вам всем счастливого Рождества!” (Russian)

“Желим вам све а Мерри Божић! ” (Serbian)

“ඔබට සුභ නත්තලක් වේවා!” (Sinhalese)

“Ja Prajem vám všetkým veselé Vianoce!” (Slovak)

“Želim vam vse vesel Božič!” (Slovenian)

“Les deseo a todos una Feliz Navidad!” (Spanish)

“Napenda wote Krismasi Njema!” (Swahili)

“Jag önskar er alla en God Jul!” (Swedish)

“உங்களுக்கு எனது கிறிஸ்துமஸ் (நத்தார்) நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்!” (Tamil)

“నేను మిమ్మల్ని విష్ అ మెర్రి క్రిస్మస్!” (Telugu)

“ผมหวังว่าคุณจะ ร่าเริง a คริสต์มาส!” (Thai)

“Seni bütün bir Mutlu Noeller diliyoruz!” (Turkish)

“Я бажаю вам всім щасливого Різдва!” (Ukrainian)

“میں آپ سب کو میری کرسمس کاش!” (Urdu)

“Tôi Chúc các bạn một Giáng sinh vui vẻ!” (Vietnamese)

“Rwy’n Wish chi i gyd Nadolig Llawen!” (Welsh)

“איך ווינטשן איר אַלע אַ לעבעדיק ניטל!” (Yiddish)

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THE FULL NATIVITY STORY IN 10 PARTS

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Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club: An Initiative Aimed at Forging Ties


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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From left, Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, and Fr. Eamon O' Higgins. (AP Photo)
From left, Fr. Theodore Mascarenhas, Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, and Fr. Eamon O’ Higgins. (AP Photo)

Cricket is a game traditionally played in Rome only by anglophones, eccentric English aristocrats and immigrants from the subcontinent. However, on October 22, 2013, John McCarthy, the Australian Ambassador to The Holy See, Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Father Eamon O’ Higgins, and Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, met the journalists and announced the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.

John McCarthy QC – Ambassador to The Holy See. (Photo:- Kerry Myers)
John McCarthy QC – The Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. (Photo:– Kerry Myers)

Saint Peter’s CC is the brainchild of John McCarthy, Australian Ambassador to The Holy See. His son trained for the priesthood in Rome was frustrated by the lack of cricketing possibilities in the Vatican even though there is a significant number of people, mostly seminarians and clerics from cricket-playing countries who are keen to play cricket. McCarthy wanted something similar to the Clericus Cup – a soccer tournament among the religious colleges and seminaries of Rome.

Father Theodore Mascarenhas
Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India.

Father Theodore Mascarenhas from India, the club’s chairman, an off-spin bowler, said:

“I think cricket will begin to speak a new language — perhaps Latin, coming into the neighbourhood of the Vatican and beginning to take its first baby steps. We have the expertise. We have the will to do things. And I’m sure we’ll start with our baby steps and we’ll go far ahead. … We hope to have ecumenical dialogue through cricket and play a Church of England side by September.”

In response to a suggestion that cricketing terms and field positions might be translated into Latin or Italian, John McCarthy was firm: “English is the language of cricket and will remain the language of cricket”.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis, known for both intercultural and interfaith dialogue, is a known football enthusiast than a cricket watcher. He still supports the San Lorenzo football club of his native Buenos Aires. Father Mascarenhas said he believed the pontiff, as a “very open man”, would come to accept cricket.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. ( Andrew Medichini  Associated Press  March 5, 2013 )
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture. ( Andrew Medichini Associated Press March 5, 2013 )

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the pontifical council for culture, praised the launch of Vatican’s Saint Peter’s CC as a chance to celebrate the nobility of “true sport,” an “expression of inter-culturality” and a “dialogue between people”.

Ambassador McCarthy said: “It is certainly the case that the Holy Father has heard of cricket … as a sport that was played in schools conducted by his [Jesuit] order in Argentina.”

Father Eamon O’ Higgins said: “But I think this is something that goes in line with one of the objectives of Pope Francis, which is to reach out and not stay within our own security zone.”

The organizers hope this initiative for forging ties with teams of other faiths, eventually, would lead to interfaith activities involving cricket matches against teams from Buddhist, Hindu,  Muslim, and Sikh educational institutions.

To begin with, the Vatican cricketers challenged their Anglican counterparts to play cricket at Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London – the home of cricket. Ambassador John McCarthy said:

“It is hoped there will be a team of sufficient level that, for instance, in the next year they could play a team nominated by the Church of England. … It would be the dearest aspiration of so many of the cricketers here that that game take place at Lord’s.”

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, wears a cricket helmet. (AP Photo)
Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, wears a cricket helmet. (AP Photo)

Monsignor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, was not so optimistic. He quietly said the Vatican would try to put together a team which could “lose with dignity” against the English. “I think they’re very strong,” he added.

Reverend Mark Rylands, Suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury
Reverend Mark Rylands, Suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury

Responding to the Vatican’s proposal, Mark Rylands, suffragan bishop of Shrewsbury and a keen cricketer, said:

“I am delighted to hear of the formation of Saint Peter’s Cricket Club and look forward to welcoming them to England as brothers. We do not have a national team at present, but I’m confident that it will be possible for an annual fixture to be played in the spirit of ecumenism. To that end I hope we can keep any sledging to a minimum and that neutral umpires will not be necessary.”

Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy Durham diocese)
Justin Welby, the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo courtesy Durham diocese)

On December 20, 2013, the Church of England formally took up Vatican’s challenge to settle scores on the cricket pitch almost 500 years after their split with the Vatican. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the 80-million strong worldwide Anglican communion, accepted the challenge through his representative to The Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, Archbishop David Moxon, from New Zealand.

Archbishop David Moxon - Anglican representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
Archbishop David Moxon – Anglican representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Archbishop Moxon said the match would be held at Lord’s in September 2014 after the Anglicans formed a team of amateurs from Lambeth Palace, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and nearby theological schools.

When asked if a combination of sports diplomacy and inter-religious dialogue could help improve relations between the two Churches, Archbishop Moxon said:

“It will introduce a conversation piece all over the world whenever Catholics and Anglicans get together. … I think it can only do good and increase the bonds of affection we have for each other.”

Father Eamonn O’Higgins, the organizer of the Vatican cricket team, gave Archbishop Moxon the ball that will be used in the match.

A league composed of best players among priests and seminarians from countries with a cricket tradition – Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka – form the Saint Peter’s Cricket Club.

The Official emblem on the Saint Peters Cricket Club jacket. (Credit Ellis Haris - CNA)
The Official emblem on the Saint Peters Cricket Club jacket. (Credit Ellis Haris /CNA)

The Vatican team will wear the official white and gold colours of The Holy See and their jackets will have two crossed keys – the seal of the papacy,

Brother K.K. Joseph, an Indian who trained a number of future test players while they were in schools run by his religious order in India will coach the Vatican team.

A Vatican XI player during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae's Catholic College in Rome. (Photo: Reuters)
A Vatican XI player during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae’s Catholic College in Rome. (Photo: Reuters)

Saint Peter’s CC has already organized trial matches. It aims to have a Twenty20-style tournament between all the pontifical colleges of Rome. A pitch near Ciampino airport on the outskirts of the city has been made available.

While Saint Peter’s CC is currently men only, the organizers are also on the lookout for Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan nuns, who have played cricket before, in order to form a women’s cricket team.

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Add this anywhere

Am I a Wise Moron?


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Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Recently I came across the following in Facebook:

Oxymorons

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines ostensibly contradictory terms. Appropriately, the word oxymoron is itself oxymoronic because it is formed from two Greek roots of opposite meaning: ὀξύς (oxus, “sharp, keen”) + μωρός (mōros, “dull, stupid”). Moros is the root of the word moron.

Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, Henry Stuart Jones and Roderick McKenzie in their work A Greek-English Lexicon illustrate an example of the Greek compound word ὀξύς-μωρος (English: pointedly foolish):

τὸ ὀξύμωρον” – a witty saying, the more pointed from being paradoxical or seemingly absurd, such as insaniens sapientia, strenua inertia, splendide mendax.

So, oxymoron is a single-word oxymoron consisting of two morphemes that are dependent in English similar to sophomore (literally “wise fool”). There are indeed many sophomoric sophomores.

Plural of oxymoron is oxymorons or oxymora. However, I prefer the word oxymora for the plural form.

In our daily life we use oxymora in many contexts, including inadvertent errors such as: open secret, clearly confused, act naturally, alone together and so on.

Many literary works contain literary oxymora. The 17th century literary work “Idylls of the King” by Lord Alfred Tennyson, Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland, has two oxymora:

And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.”

Some oxymora are crafted to show a paradox. On April 26, 2012, DiaNuke.org published an article titled:

Lessons of Chernobyl and Fukushima: Nuclear Safety is an Oxymoron

The most common form of an oxymoron involves an adjective–noun combination of two words.

dark light, living dead, guest host, little while, mad wisdom, mournful optimist, violent relaxation

Noun-verb combinations of two words also appear infrequently. For example: the line “The silence whistles” from Nathan Alterman’s Summer Night, and the title of a music record album – “Sounds of Silence“.

There are single-word oxymora composed of dependent morphemes:

pianoforte (“soft-loud”), preposterous (“before-after”), superette (“big-small”), etc.

Also, many single-word oxymora are composed of independent morphemes – two meaning-bearing elements that could each be a word in itself joined together to form a single word:

ballpoint, bittersweet, bridegroom, firewater, kickstand, someone, speechwriting, spendthrift, wholesome,etc.

Many oxymora are a pair of words:

awful(ly) good, barely clothed, benevolent despot, benign neglect, build-down, building wrecking, clearly obfuscating, damned good, deliberate speed, elevated subway, exactly wrong, far nearer, final draft, freezer burn, fresh frozen, growing small, hardly easy, idiot savant, industrial park, inside out, light heavyweight, little big, loyal opposition, mobile home, negative growth, old boy, one-man band, open secret, original copy, painfully beautiful, press release, random order, recorded live, sight unseen, small fortune, standard deviation, student teacher, terribly good, working vacation.

For a longer list of oxymora see my article titled “List of Some of the Many Oxymora I Have Come Across.

An oxymoron is not always a pair of words; they can also be devised in the semantics of sentences or phrases:

  • Andy Warhol: “I am a deeply superficial person.”
  • Anthony Haden-Guest: “Of course I can keep secrets. It’s the people I tell them to that can’t keep them.”
  • Arthur Baer: “She used to diet on any kind of food she could lay her hands on.”
  • Charles Lamb: “I like a smuggler. He is the only honest thief.”
  • Clara Barton: “I distinctly remember forgetting that.”
  • Dolly Parton: “You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap.”
  • Donald Trump: “The budget was unlimited, but I exceeded it.”
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay: “I like humanity, but I loathe persons.”
  • George Bernard Shaw: “Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.”
  • Henry Ford: “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”
  • Irene Peter: “Always be sincere, even though you do not necessarily mean it.”
  • Isaac B. Singer: “We must believe in free will. We have no choice.”
  • Josh Billings: “Live within your income, even if you have to borrow to do so.”
  • Lord Alfred Tennyson: “And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.”
  • Mark Twain: “I can resist everything but temptation.”
  • Mark Twain: “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
  • Oscar Wilde: “I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.”
  • Oscar Wilde: “I can resist anything, except temptation.”
  • P.G. Wodehouse: “I generally advise persons never ever to present assistance.”
  • Samuel Goldwyn: “Modern dancing is so old fashioned.”
  • W.C. Fields: “The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”
  • Winston Churchill: “A joke is actually an extremely really serious issue.”
  • Winston Churchill: “I always avoid prophesying beforehand because it is much better to prophesy after the event has already taken place.”
  • Yogi Berra: “I never said most of the things I said.”
  • Yogi Berra: “Why don’t you pair ‘em up in threes?”

Here are some brightly forged oxymora penned by great English writers:

  • Byron: melancholy merriment
  • Chaucer: hateful good
  • Hemingway: scalding coolness
  • Milton: darkness visible
  • Pope: damn with faint praise
  • Shakespeare: parting is such sweet sorrow
  • Spenser: proud humility
  • Tennyson: falsely true
  • Thomson: expressive silence
Samuel Goldwyn
Samuel Goldwyn

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Polish-born American film producer Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz c. July 1879 – January 31, 1974) was famous for his quick wit and humor. In 1913, Goldwyn along with his brother-in-law Jesse L. Lasky, Cecil B. DeMille, and Arthur Friend formed a partnership, The Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company, the first feature motion picture company on the West Coast. to produce feature length motion pictures.

Once, Samuel Goldwyn commented: “Pictures are for entertainment, messages should be delivered by Western Union.

When asked about his autobiography, Goldwyn replied: “I don’t think anybody should write his autobiography until after he’s dead.

When told his son was getting married, he quipped: “Thank heaven. A bachelor’s life is no life for a single man.

Here are a few of Goldwyn’s funny oxymora:

  • A hospital is no place to be sick.
  • A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
  • Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.
  • Click the ‘Start’ button to shut down the computer.
  • Don’t worry about the war. It’s all over but the shooting.
  • Gentlemen, I want you to know that I am not always right, but I am never wrong.
  • Give me a smart idiot over a stupid genius any day.
  • I can give you a definite perhaps.
  • I don’t think anyone should write their autobiography until after they’re dead.
  • I never liked you, and I always will.
  • I never put on a pair of shoes until I’ve worn them five years.
  • I paid too much for it, but its worth it.
  • I was always an independent, even when I had partners.
  • I’ll give you a definite maybe.
  • If I could drop dead right now, I’d be the happiest man alive!
  • If you fall and break your legs, don’t come running to me.
  • If Roosevelt were alive, he’d turn over in his grave.
  • Include me out.
  • It’s absolutely impossible, but it has possibilities.
  • It’s more than magnificent – it’s mediocre.
  • Our comedies are not to be laughed at.
  • Spare no expense to save money on this one.
  • Tell them to stand closer apart.
  • The scene is dull. Tell him to put more life into his dying.
  • We’re overpaying him, but he’s worth it.

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