Although it may seem as if this scam only began in earnest with the invention of email, in fact, the Nigerian email scam of today is just a variation of a scam that is more than four hundred years old when it was called “the Spanish Prisoner con. At that time, a letter was sent to the targeted victim purportedly from someone on behalf of a wealthy aristocrat who was imprisoned in Spain under a false name. The identity of the nobleman was not revealed for security reasons, but the victim was asked to help raise money to obtain the release of the aristocrat, who, it was promised, would reward the money-contributing victim with great sums of money and, in some versions of the con, the Spanish prisoner’s beautiful daughter in marriage.
In one of the present day typical incarnations of this scam, you receive an email in which you are promised great sums of money if you assist a Nigerian in his effort to transfer money out of his country. Other variations include the movement of embezzled funds by corrupt officials, a dying gentleman who wants to make charitable gifts or a minor bank official who is trying to move the money of deceased foreigners out of his bank without the government taking it. The email which I received recently and is copied below deals with abandoned property.
What all of these scams have in common is that as soon as you contact the scammer, the need for you to provide fees for a variety of purposes becomes apparent and regardless of how much money you pay, you never receive anything.
Here is a copy of the email I recently received:
I am contacting you regarding a special cargo that has been abandoned here at our warehouse for over a period of 2 years and when scanned, it revealed an undisclosed sum of money in it. From my findings, the cargo originated from Europe and the content was not declared as money by the consignor in order to avoid diversion by the shipping agent, and also failure to pay the special cargo non-inspection fee of 3,475 . I strongly believe the box will contain about 4.6 million or more.
In my private search for a reliable person, my proposal now is to present you as the recipient of the cargo since the shipper has abandoned it which is a possibility due to the fact it has been abandoned for a period whereby a new beneficiary can be presented to the clearance department for claim and also my position at this shipping service. I will pay for the fee and arrange for the cargo to be delivered to your address. Alternatively, I can personally bring it myself and then we share the total money in the box equally.
Mr. Lewis Hawkins
Asst. Operations Manager
ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd
Chicago (IL) Agents: 9950 W.Lawrence Avenue,
Suite 215 Schiller Park, IL 60176”
Although it should be apparent to everyone who reads this email that it is a scam, the very outrageousness of the email is most likely intentional because as more people become aware of the Nigerian letter scam, the scammers do not want to waste their time on potential victims who may be skeptical of their scam, so they often send out emails like these that are so ridiculous in an effort to catch only the most gullible and greedy. Also note that the salutation does not even indicate to whom the email is being sent. Instead, the lazy scammer merely addresses it as “Good day! ” Never reply to emails such as this. If you receive a particularly inventive or interesting Nigerian email, please share it with us here at Scamicide.