A Variation of the Nigerian Money Scam

“There’s a sucker born every minute”   P. T. Barnum (1810–1891)

We all get them, emails from Nigeria or wherever offering quick cash,  an inheritance or some other money-for-nothing scheme.

They usually end up in my Spam folder (or you could call it the scam folder).  Normally I just delete such emails but the odd time I open them up to have a look and perhaps  ‘play’ with the scammer.

Recently an email arrived in my spam folder purporting to be from Western Union.  It asked for basic information and  promised  $50,000.00 (USD) in cash just for being a good Western Union customer.

Here is a copy of the email:

Feb 17 (4 days ago)

to undisclosed recipients
Warning: This message may not be from whom it claims to be. Beware of following any links in it or of providing the sender with any personal information.  Learn more
Dear Western Union Customer,You have been awarded with the sum of $50,000 USD by our office, as one of our customers who use Western Union in their daily business transaction. This award was been selected through the internet, where your e-mail address was indicated and notified. Please provide Mr. Gary Epps with the following details listed below so that your fund will be remited to you through Western Union.

1.  Name:______
2. Address________
3. Country:_______
4. Phone Number____
5. Occupation:________
6. Sex:_________________
7. Age___________________
Mr.Gary Epps
E-mail: wu_africadep01@admin.in.thAs soon as these details are received and verified, your fund will be transferred to you.Thank you, for using western union.

There are many ‘hints’ here that should alert anyone that this is a scam.  Here are some of the basic ones:

1.  Western Union (or any other reputable company) does not do random $50,000.00 give aways.

2.  Spelling and grammar errors  “Estern”, “remited”, “was been”.

2.  The email implies I am a regular Western Union customer, which I am not.

3.  The ‘selection’ was made through the internet.  You can’t win something unless you have a ticket.

4.  There is a request for personal information.

5.  The return email address contains the word ‘Africa’.

6.  The message came complete with a warning from my email service indicating the message might not be from whom it claims to be.

Being in a ‘playful’ mood I decided to respond to the email and have some fun with the scammer.  The way I look at it is this – whatever amount of time I am able to tie the scammer up, the less time he has to scam others.   ‘Playing’  with scammers is really a public service.

I sent the following information: name  John Smith; a fictitious address  (no city, province or country provided).  I indicated I was a 60-year-old retired male with no phone.
A few days later I received the following response:

Address: No. 5 Western Avenue,
West Africa, Nigeria 

Tel: +234 703 459 6626
Dear: John Smith,

You have been awarded with the sum of $50,000 USD by our office, as one of our customers who use Western Union in their daily business transaction. This award was been selected through the internet, where your e-mail address was indicated and notified.
Your details have been received and verified, your fund will be transferred to you. as a way to thank you for using western union.
If you are  ready to pick up this $10,000.00 sent twice your name and address . We have concluded to effect your payment through western union $10,000.00 daily until the $50,000.00 USD is completely transferred.

You are going to be paying €100 Euro daily to get the first  M.T.C.N Numbers of $10,000Usd for the transfer of your funds remitted to you daily until we complete transfer of your funds worth $50,000.00USD. 
Here is the information of the first daily payment of €100 via Western Union Money Transfer. You have to send the sum of 150 usd here to transfer the first sum of 10,000 USD.
Recievers Name:  Roland Owen
Recievers Address: 5 Western Avenue, Nigeria
TextQuestion:Realationship Answer:Friend 

Upon receipt of the payment we shall call or email you the first M.T.C.N numbers of the first $10,000 Usd remitted. Remember that, as soon as the payment is made send down to us your payment receipt or the M.T.C.N numbers to our email for verification. Note: You have to keep this confidential to avoid double claim of M..T.C.N numbers.
Mr. Gary Epps  (Transfer Manager)
This second email contained further clues:
1.   “NIGERIA“.
2.  A confirmation that the details  provided have been verified (not possible as they were fictitious).
3.  Spelling and grammar flags, i.e. “sent twice your name and address”, “was been”, “Instruction’s”, “Recievers”, “Realationship”.
4.  The big hint: a request for money up front to facilitate the transfer of funds.
5.  Instruction to keep this matter confidential.
At this point almost all the bases in the classic Nigerian email scam have been covered.
Going back into ‘play’ mode I responded as follows:
This is very nice but I don’t have $150.00 so I’ll tell you what, you send me the first 10,000 and I’ll give you 10%   (that would be 1000) when I get it.  I’ll then be able to pay you the 150 on the next 4 transfers of 10,000 until I get my whole 50,000.  Once I get the entire 50,000 I will send you a bonus of 5,000.

Kindest regards
Having done this before I know scammers don’t like being scammed so I doubt I’ll be getting a further response.
But you never know, he may be the persistent sort.