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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