Although it may seem as if this scam only began in earnest with the invention of email, in fact, the scam itself 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 the more recent 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.  Similar scams have managed to keep up with the news by appearing to originate in China or, in this case, Iraq.

What all of these scams have in common is that soon after agreeing to help, you learn that money is needed to be sent by you for lawyer fees, bribes, insurance and other costs.  The reward is always just around the corner and the fees keep mounting.

Here is an example of an email I recently received.

“Dear Sir

With much sincerity of purpose, I make this contract with you after satisfactory information we gathered from the Chamber of Commerce here in Iraq.

I am a private staff for Haider J. Hamza a Senior Accountant back in my country with various influence at the Ministry of oil; I believe my proposal will interest you.
My boss have decided and instruct me to contact you secretly in view of transferring the sum of US$55.5M [Fifty Five Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars] only to your Company or Personal Account through the remittance banks used by our country scattered all over the western countries and some A-list banks in Asia.

However total confidential and legal arrangement requires to be smoothly executed to have funds either transferred or as to be determine by factors as our communication progresses.This particular funds is projected from an over invoiced contracted award to a foreign company who has long been paid and the over invoice remains dormant for many years now.Since the completion and payment has far exceed the period of six years; the constitution allows my principal to use his discretion and his candid returns in the past was turn in for personal gains by far superiors, hence he intend doing something for himself this time.

As persons under government pay roll, it is indicting to openly take possession of such funds which is where your assistance as the foreign contactor is highly required.
Among others; my principal we ensure :
Payment approval from relevant offices for the release of the contract sum in favour of your Personal / Company details.
You are expected to furnish us with necessary details such as:
Your personal name in full.
Name and Address of your Company.
Proof of tax paid in your country for a minimum period of 1yr. (Personal tax payment proof or company tax payment proof) is acceptable.

The sharing mode as proposed by my principal is 35% for your company and 65% for him
I anxiously wait to hear from you.
Zaher AbdulKarrem.


There are a number of ways to confirm that the email you are receiving is a scam including a careful review of the email address, however, you do not need to even go that far in your considerations.  Although you may want to open the email (so long as you do not click on to any links) for sheer entertainment purposes, all of these scenarios are scams.  Just ask yourself, why are you being singled out for this email?  You are not.  The emails are sent out all over the Internet.  Don’t be a victim.  Do not respond to the email in any fashion.  If you do, you will be hounded.