Tag Archives: scams

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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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

.

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

.

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

.

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

.

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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Add this anywhere

My Mobile number has WON the sum of £750,000


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj
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Fraud Alert

Yesterday I received the following SMS:

Your Mobile number 
has WON you the sum
of £750,000 from the
UK Nokia cash offer
send details for
claim:Name,Age,Address,
Tell:
free.rep3@outlook.com

Sender:
(no name)
+918373934464
Received:
04:58:12pm
02-07-2013

This is another instance of a phone text (SMS) message that claims the recipient has won a bountiful sum of money in an online promotion or in an online lottery. Contrary to the claim there is no prize money and the lottery or promotion mentioned in these messages do not exist. In fact, the messages are just lures used by scammers to entice recipients into replying and getting personal information first and  groom them to part with their hard-earned money.

This is somewhat similar to the Ontario Lottery Corporation Scam.

Mobile Scams

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), scams delivered via landline and mobile networks remained the preferred delivery method for scammers, with combined voice and text messages making up 56 per cent of reported scams. Unsolicited telephone calls accounted for $24 million in reported losses while fake SMS messages, such as the one I received yesterday, netted criminals $759,986. Online scams increased to represent over 35 per cent of all approaches.

“Scammers continue to find sophisticated methods to deliver scams, taking advantage of new technologies and communication methods to try and slip under your radar,” said Delia Rickard, deputy chair, ACCC. “Nowadays it can take just the click of a button to fall victim to a scam, so it is more important than ever that we practice safe techniques when communicating with other-whether online, on the phone, at one’s business or even at home.”

The United States Postal Inspection Service warns that there has been an increase in the number of seniors victimized by foreign lottery scams by phone and by regular mail such as this one. Many of these lottery scams reportedly originate in Nigeria or Jamaica. At times, callers/scammers will claim the victim owes fees and/or taxes to collect their winnings. The perpetrators of these scams have been known are extremely pushy. They may find photos of the victim’s home on Google Maps and scare seniors by making them believe that they are being stalked.

So, beware! We are in for another spate of mobile scams.

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Monkey Business: Buy When Cheap; Sell When Dear.


Myself 

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Monkey Business - 1
Monkey Business – The commodity.

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Last year, in mid July, Homayun, an Afghan merchant and his cousin Hekmat came in a truck to the monkey-infested Courtallam town, the holiday resort in South Tamilnadu, India.

Immediately they went about searching for a place to stay and were lucky to find a large dilapidated warehouse near the five-falls that had served as a granary thirty years back. Pleased with the place, they gave frantic calls on their mobile phones. A week later three large trucks arrived at the warehouse and unloaded a lot of wired cages. The Afghans were now ready to launch their monkey business.

They offered to buy monkeys for rupees 25 each. Their offer spread virally and the poor folk of the town saw it as a god-sent opportunity to make some money. The municipality welcomed the offer by the Afghans to buy monkeys that were a nuisance to the tourists who came to the resort town from all over India.

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Afghan monkey merchant
Afghan monkey merchant

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During the first week of trading, the Afghans bought more than a thousand monkeys of all sizes. The monkeys, sensing danger retreated to the hills and the supply diminished. Homayun doubled his buying price to rupees 50 for each animal. This offer spurred the monkey catchers to venture into the hills.

The Municipal councillors beamed with joy, as there were no free monkeys to trouble the tourists and the live ones were in cages in the warehouse of the Afghans. However, this  disappointed the older tourists as they were unable to show even a single monkey to their wards.

On Monday, the following week, only three monkeys came up for sale and the monkey catchers haggled over the price, and Homayun settled for rupees 250 for each animal. Since he had to go to Chennai for a week on business, and did not have the time to bargain, he promised the monkey catchers that he would from then on, buy the monkeys at rupees 300 each when he returned after a week.

On Tuesday, Homayun’s cousin Hekmat was occupying the seat of the elder Afghan at the warehouse. The cunning fellow told a selected few that he would give them the caged monkeys at rupees 150 each, which they could sell to Homayun for rupees 300 when he returned from Chennai after a week. This offer spread like wildfire and Hekmat sold almost all the monkeys in five days time except a few sick and dying animals.

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Monkey Business
Hitching a ride.

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On Monday, when the people arrived at the warehouse, they saw it locked, and the Afghans were nowhere, and they understood that the Afghan duo had duped them.

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rhesuscrisis
The Rhesus Crisis in India (Photo by Channi Anaqnd, Associated Press)

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In mid September, Paramdeep Singh, a Punjabi merchant and his cousin Pavitar Singh came in a truck to a village, near the monkey-infested city of Varanasi, the holy city of the Hindus, situated on the banks of the river Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, India.

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The Hymn “Amazing Grace”


John Newton

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John Newton, a slave trader wrote the beautiful hymn “Amazing Grace” many decades after he withdrew from seafaring and slave trading, and became a minister of God.

Born in Wapping, London, in 1725, to a shipmaster in the Mediterranean service, and Elizabeth Newton, a Nonconformist Christian, John Newton went to sea with his father at the of age eleven. He sailed six voyages with his father who retired in 1742. Though his father had plans for him to work in a sugar plantation in Jamaica, he signed on with a merchant ship sailing to the Mediterranean Sea.

A year after his father’s retirement while on the way to visit some friends, the Royal Navy captured Newton and pressed him into naval service as a midshipman aboard HMS Harwich. Once when he attempted to desert he got punished in front of the crew. He received a flogging of one dozen lashes and was reduced to the rank of a common seaman. Thoroughly humiliated, Newton thought of committing suicide.

After he recuperated physically and mentally he managed to get himself transferred from HMS Harwich to Pegasus, a slave ship bound for West Africa.

The crew of Pegasus considered Newton a problem. They handed him to Amos Clowe, a slave dealer in West Africa. Clowe gave him to his wife Princess Peye, an African duchess who abused and mistreated Newton along with her other slaves.

Early in 1748, a sea captain rescued Newton at the behest of his father who had been searching for him.

He sailed back to England aboard the merchant ship Greyhound. The ship almost sank on encountering a severe storm off the coast of Donegal. Newton woke in the middle of the night and prayed to God as the ship started filling with water. The cargo of beeswax and Dyer’s wood drifted inside the inundated ship and plugged the gaping hole, and the ship drifted to safety. This experience marked the beginnings of his conversion to Christianity.

As he headed home, Newton read the Bible and other religious literature. By the time he reached Britain, he had accepted the doctrines of evangelical Christianity. From that point on, although he continued to work in the slave trade, he avoided profanity, gambling, and drinking and showed sympathy for the slaves.

In Liverpool, he obtained a position as first mate aboard the slave ship Brownlow bound for the West Indies. While sick with a fever, he professed his full belief in Christ and asked God to take control of his destiny. This happened to be his true conversion, and the turning point in his spiritual life. For the first time, he felt totally at peace with God. Even so, he did not renounce the slave trade until later in his life.

After returning to England in 1750, he went on three more voyages as captain of the slave-trading ships “Duke of Argyle” in 1750, and the “African” between 1752–1753, and 1753–1754.

He suffered a severe stroke in 1754 and gave up seafaring and slave-trading activities. However, he continued to invest his savings in Joseph Manesty’s slaving operations.

In 1755, through the influence of Joseph Manesty he obtained the post of tide surveyor (a form of customs officer) in the Port of Liverpool with the responsibility for searching for contraband and remunerated with half of the confiscated booty.

In his spare time, he learned Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac and eventually became an evangelical minister. In 1757, he applied to be ordained as a priest in the Church of England. However, it took more than seven years for his request to be accepted.

Frustrated during this period of abeyance of the Church of England, Newton applied to the Methodists, Independents and Presbyterians, and even mailed applications directly to the Bishops of Chester and Lincoln and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

On 29th April 1764, Newton received deacon’s orders and finally became a priest on June 17. Newton after his appointment as the curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, got sponsored by an evangelical philanthropist, the wealthy Christian merchant John Thornton, who supplemented his stipend of £60 a year with £200 a year.

Newton soon became well known for his pastoral care. He won the respect of Anglicans and Nonconformists alike for his beliefs and his friendship with dissenters and evangelical clergy. During his sixteen years of service in Olney, he became so popular for his preaching that the church had a gallery added to accommodate the large numbers that flocked to hear him.

William Cowper the poet moved to Olney in 1767. He worshipped in John Newton’s church. Cowper and Newton collaborated on a volume of hymns and eventually in 1779 published the collection as “Olney Hymns”. This much-appreciated compendium included Newton’s well-known hymns:

“Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”
“How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds!”
“Let Us Love, and Sing, and Wonder”
“Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare”
“Approach, My Soul, the Mercy-seat”
and
“Faith’s Review and Expectation”

The hymn “Faith’s Review and Expectation” later became known by its opening phrase as “Amazing Grace”.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T’was Grace that taught…
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear…
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares…
I have already come.
T’was Grace that brought me safe thus far…
and Grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years…
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise…
then when we’ve first begun.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

.

.R

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