Thursday, February 28, 2008

Inheriting Millions, No Billions

Has anyone ever responded to one of the heartrending pleas for help that are typically sent via email from some desperate African widow? The scenarios vary somewhat, but they seem to revolve around a hidden fortune, the tragic death of a loved one, and your (yes, your) ability to resolve the financial impasse. For your help you are eligible to receive half of the hidden fortune, which typically amounts to many millions of dollars.

I figure that I've now passed up something on the order of half a billion dollars that could have been mine. That would have almost paid for my daughter's semester in NYC. So I'm kicking myself, and wondering if anyone has actually responded to such a letter. What happened? Did you receive your millions? And why do I seem to receive one or two of these desperate pleas every week? How did I get on that mailing list?

9 comments:

Karen said...

you do know that this is a really well known scam, right?

Anonymous said...

it's called spam, bro.

Andy Whitman said...

Well yeah, I figured that it was spam. But there's a tiny part of me that a) feels sorry for the desperate African widows, and b) wouldn't mind inheriting, say, half a billion dollars. So I always pass it up, but there's always that twinge of wondering what I'm missing. I figured I wasn't really missing anything, but it's good to have that assumption verified.

cjdm said...

dude. you are missing something.

this website is dedicated to what you are missing, the baiting of the guys who send spam like this.

prepare to laugh.

http://www.419eater.com/

-caleb.

Ruben said...

So I'm kicking myself, and wondering if anyone has actually responded to such a letter.

I've always assumed that, since spammers are still sending those emails out by the millions, that the scam must be working on someone - so somebody, somewhere must be responding (although I doubt they see any more of the hidden forture than you do).

CarolN said...

There was a Dateline investigation into the Nigerian banking fraud phenomenon. It was about as squirm-inducing as their "To Catch a Predator" series. This was a round-the-world chase as the Dateline guy tried to dupe the people who were trying to dupe him.

just scott said...

half a million would be enough for me :)

John McCollum said...

My current life of luxury is funded entirely by my winnings in foreign lotteries and the percentages I've collected from Nigerian widows.

Martin said...

Before there was an Internet, I worked at the U.S. Geological Survey. This was 1986, but because it was a federal agency, we had cool stuff like FTP and chat on our computer network. I remember thinking the chat was a silly idea ... why not just go down the hall and talk to the person? It was a closed network, so the Nigerians couldn't reach us directly. Instead they sent letters, using some of the same scams they're still using today. One of my colleagues posted such a letter on the bulletin board (and by that I mean an actual bulletin board ... we were cool but not THAT cool). The Nigerians have been at this a long time and, given Barnum's law about the replacement rate for suckers, will probably be at it for a while longer.

In more recent times, a highly accomplished, doctorate-holding colleague of mine was nearly taken in on a smaller-scale scam. She posted some rug-hooking equipment for sale somewhere, and got the good old fake-cashier's-check scam from someone in Nigeria. (Say you're selling an item for $200; the scammer will send you a cashier's check for $500 and ask you to provide change. Later the check turns out to be fake; you've lost the $300 you sent in change, along with your item.) I warned my colleague off before it was too late, but I have other acquaintances who weren't so lucky.