THE JOURNAL OF EDUCATION, COMMUNITY, AND VALUES
by Jeffrey Barlow <email@example.com>
Since our last editorial in the May edition of Interface, "Globalism, Crime, and the Internet", < http://bcis.pacificu.edu/journal/2002/05/editorial.php > on the subject of Nigerian E-mail fraud or 419 schemes, there have been some interesting developments. First, the fact that I analyzed these schemes in some detail and reported upon direct contacts with such authorities as the FBI and the Treasury Department in no way decreased the flow of such offers in my e-mail. It is evident that while the participants in these frauds may make good use of the Internet, they do not do much research as such. Clearly the author of such an analysis as I wrote should not be considered a really good prospect. One such offer I received was particularly interesting, because it appeals to both greed and to Christian values. It is reprinted below in its entirety in the appendix.
I also received additional offers similar to earlier ones. Several of these are also reprinted below in the appendix. The continuing flow of these related messages indicates, I think, that this scam has about run its course. Any American mark has by now received so many related offers that even the most greedily unwary must be at least a little bit suspicious.
Those with good Internet access also have available many reports on Nigerian 419 fraud schemes, as well as a great many news releases dealing with recent developments. In early June, for example, a Nigerian gang operating in South Africa was arrested , in some reports with the assistance of Scotland Yard. Notices of these arrests circulated widely on the Internet. England now has an agency (easily accessible by e-mail!) charged with dealing with these crimes.
We now also have more insight into how these schemes work. The scheme is a highly layered one. The lowest layer is composed of individuals operating in Internet cafes with e-mail addresses from such free sources as YAHOO© and HOTMAIL©. These are probably creating their own list of contacts from email addresses gleaned from the Internet as well as using lists generated by the next level above them. They send out, collectively, thousands of the initial appeals, working apparently, from models. They also show a creative spark, however, in that very unusual variations in the initial appeal, such as that reproduced below, are also sometimes seen. Once this first level receives a return from a potential mark they then pass the name on to the next level, those who will actually work the mark.
My own experience demonstrates that the addresses of those showing initial interest is in some cases sold yet another time, apparently to those outside the immediate structure of the scheme. That is, there are many such gangs operating, and some of those who send out the initial appeal are selling the names of potential marks to multiple second-level operators. This clearly is not the best use of such names as such a mark would have to be at least somewhat puzzled at receiving a sudden influx of messages, as I did, from yet other Nigerians sitting on top of millions of dollars merely requiring a kindly foreigner to set them free. This secondary sale of names suggests that the scheme is now so widely distributed as to be out of control. Members of the groups are, in short, now swindling each other.
For those marks who do reply and are drawn into the scheme, however, it quickly becomes less than amusing. The South African arrests, for example, resulted from the kidnapping of a businessman who had flown into South Africa as a result of the blandishments of a Nigerian gang. Kidnappings in other countries with decayed legal order have also been reported. These victims have been held for ransom, as well as being robbed.
The estimates of amounts lost to these criminals also continue to mount. One recent English estimate put the amount at four to five million per year  in a remarkable variant on the scheme. In this variant, victims are shown a large suitcase full of paper the size and texture of an internationally traded currency such as American dollars or English pounds. However, these notes have been blackened by chemical action. It is explained that they were blackened so as to smuggle them out of Nigeria.
The smuggler then shows the mark that the currency can be cleaned with a reagent, selecting real currency from the stack of paper. Nimble thieves sometimes permit the victim to select the example, then substitute through sleight-of-hand a chemically treated note which, sure enough, easily comes clean and reveals itself as a hundred-pound note when treated. The thief, in this variant, is selling the reagent for a mere fraction of what the suitcase of purported treated notes is worth. This variation upon the 419 scheme and others suggests that the number of marks among the urban poor is probably far above those cases that actually make the news of American, Australian, or English victims drawn from the more wealthy sectors of society.
After the editorial was published, I was also contacted by others interested in the subject of electronic crime. One kind reader told me that the piece I had written was being used in a workshop developed for the Foreign Terrorism Tracking Task Force. This was gratifying, of course, both because it was a sign of an active readership for Interface, and also because it is an indication that criminal electronic networks are being taken increasingly seriously as a threat to security requiring new and fresh approaches.
In our next issue of Interface, appearing in late July, we shall report on recent developments affecting security and the Internet.
Jeffrey Barlow <firstname.lastname@example.org>
1) Graeme Wearden " Six arrested over 'Nigerian email' frauds" 14:13 Tuesday 21st May 2002, http://news.zdnet.co.uk/story/0,,t269-s2110589,00.html
Delivered-To: email@example.com From: "DEACON EVANS OBI" <EV_OBI234@YAHOO.COM> Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2002 11:23:42 +0200 Subject: GOD'S WORK
Beloved in Christ,
It is a privilege to hear from God and it gives me joy to relate my Testimony to you. Haven received instruction from God through divine Revelation.
I was a Moslem and a retired military top officer in Nigerian Army that Served under the past military regime. I was the financial secretary to the Armed Force Ruling Council (AFRC). With my position as a financial secretary, I was able to divert up to $20,000,000.00 (twenty million U.S Dollars, into my personal Bank Account, hoping to invest the money when I'm retired.
Immediately I got retired, I was converted from Moslem to Christian when I was preached the words of God through my cousin Pastor Paul Osakwe. I then gave my life to Christ and became a born again Christian.
Since I gave my life to Christ, I had no rest of mind. Some times I think of the souls I killed when I was a soldier and the dubious ways I diverted my country's money into my Personal Bank Account. I then decided to seek The face of God for forgiveness and after fasting and prayer through Divine Revelation, the Almighty God revealed to me that the only way I could have rest of mind is when I used all my money to do the work of God. I immediately disclosed my revelation to my Pastor and he was Happy with me.
I have been thinking of the particular thing to do for my God before This present civilian president of my country set up a panel (Honorable Oputa Panel) to probe the Bank Account of the past Military officers Like me. Instead of loosing this money to my government, I quickly withdrew My money outs of my Account and deposited the money in a finance and security Company for safety.
My Pastor has advised me to sneak out of the country with the money to sow it into a ministries abroad. I have decided to sow this money into your ministry. I am making arrangement to come over to your country but you need to receive this money from the bank in which this money is being saved.
Please kindly send to me your full names, your telephone And fax numbers for easy communication. In order To receive the fund from the bank
I will be coming over to your ministry with my family for thanksgiving As soon as I sent out this money to you. Please act fast because I don't Want the panel to know that I want to leave the country, they might suspect My intention to leave now that the probe is going on.
I look forward to your response
God blesses you.
Deacon Evans Obi
Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: "AKU ASIODU" <email@example.com> Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 11:15:51 To:firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: STRICTLY CONFIDENCIAL
ATTN:DIRECTOR/CEO REQUEST FOR URGENT ASSISTANCE;
I AM THE SON OF CHIEF PHILIP ASIODU THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC ADVISER TO GENERAL S. ABACHA WHO WAS THE FORMER MILITARY HEAD OS STATE OF NIGERIA WHO DIED WHILE IN OFFICE ON MONDAY 8TH JUNE 1998. AS A RESULT OF THE SUDDEN AND TRAGIC NATURE OF HIS DEATH, THE NEW CIVILIAN ADMINISTRATION STARTED AN INTENSIVE CRACKDOWN ON THE FORMER OFFICIALS OF LATE GEN. ABACHA&Mac226;S REGIME ESPECIALLY MY FATHER WHO WAS HIS NATIONALECONOMIC ADVICER SINCE THEY WERE ABLE TO ASCERTAIN THAT A PERCENTAGE OF OIL PROCEEDS TOTALLING US$980 (NINE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY) WERE DIVERTED INTO PRIVATE BANK ACCOUNTS. AND MY FATHER BEING ONE OF THE SUSPECTS.
THIS LED TO UNDUE HARASSMENT, TORTURE AND DEHUMANISATION OF MY FATHER WHO HAS SINCE BEEN THROWN INTO DETENTION WITH ALL OUR FAMILY TREASURES AND VALUES LOOTED INCLUDING THE ONES HE INHERITED FROM MY GRANDFATHER. ALL HIS ACCOUNTS FOREIGN AND LOCAL WERE FROZEN AND ALL ASSESTS FOREITEDTO THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA SIMPLY FOR NOT DOING ANYTHING EXCEPT SERVING HIS FATHERLAND BY SERVING AS THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC ADVISER.
AS EXPECTED HIS FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES INCLUDING THOSE HE HELPED HAVE ABANDONED US TO DIE IN SUFFERING AND FRUSTRATION, SINCE HE HAS BEEN IN DETENTION EVEN SOME OF THEM HAVE DECIDED TO SIT ON THE BUSINESS HE WENT INTO PARTNERSHIP WITH THEM. WHILE HE WAS IN GOVERNMENT JUST BECAUSE THEY KNOW THERE IS NOTHING HE CAN DO ABOUT IT FOR NOW.
RECENTLY HE CONFIDED IN ME ABOUT A SECRET DEPOSIT OF US$30.5M (THIRTY MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY) WHICH HE DEPOSITED WITH A SECURITY COMPANY IN ABIDJAN COTE D&Mac226;IVOIRE IN CASE OF ANY EVENTUALITIES. HE WAS ABLE TO DO THIS THROUGH DIPLOMATIC BAGGAGE (IN OTHER TO AVOID THE INTERNATIONAL LAW ON MONEY LAUNDARY).
DUE TO LACK OF TRUST ON FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES, MY FATHER HAS MANDATED ME TO LOOK FOR A VERY TRUST WORTHY PERSON WHO CAN ASSIST US RECEIVE, ACCOMMODATE AND SAFEGUARD THIS FUND, TO SAVE US THE CALAMITIES OF THE PRESENT ADMINISTRATION AND FURTHER AS THIS IS THE ONLY FUND AVAILABLE: FOR THE UPKEEP AND RE-SETTLEMENT OF THE FAMILY. MY FATHER HAS ALSO MANDATED ME TO OFFER 25% OF THE FUND TO ANYONE THAT COMES TO OUR ASSISTANCE AT THIS HOUR OF NEED.
MY ENTIRE FAMILY IS IN SERIOUS FINANCIAL DISTRESS AND THIS IS THE ONLY HOPE FOR US AS THE GOVERNMENT HAS SEIZED OUR PASSPORT AND TRAVELING DOCUMENTS. HAVE IT IN MIND THAT THERE ARE NO RISK INVOLVED IN THIS BUSINESS AS ONLY YOU, MY FATHER AND I KNOW ABOUT THIS. THIS IS HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL AND THEREFORE SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH. I WAIT YOUR PROMPT RESPONSE. OR WITH THIS EMAIL ADDRESS- BEST REGARDS
From: "Dr Prince Balogun" <email@example.com>
Sender: "Dr Prince Balogun" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2002 01:24:12 -0700 Reply-To: "Dr Prince Balogun" <email@example.com>
REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP
First, I must solicit your confidence in this transaction. This is by virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential and top secret.I got your contact in my private search for a reliable person to handle this transaction.We shall base this transaction on mutual respect and honesty .Hence,it is neccessary for you to assure us of your ability and to prosecute this transaction of great magnitude involving a pending business transaction requiring maximum confidence.
We are top officials of the Federal Government Contract Review Panel who are interested in importation of goods into our country with funds which are presently trapped in Nigeria. In order to commence this business we solicit your assistance to enable us transfer into your account the said trapped funds.
The source of this fund is as follows: During the past Military Regimes here in Nigeria, government officials set up companies and awarded themselves contract which were grossly over-invoiced in various Ministries. As a result, the Democratic Government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo deemed it neccessary to set up a Contract Review Panel to investigate and recommend accordingly. After a thorough investigation, we discovered a lot of inflated contract funds which are presently floating in the Central Bank of Nigeria. We (members) have unanimously agreed to transfer part of these funds to a foreign account However, by virtue of our position as civil servants and members of this Panel, we cannot acquire this money in our names. I have therefore, been delegated as a matter of trust by my colleagues in the Panel to look for an Overseas partner into whose account we would transfer the sum of US$26,400,000.00 (Twenty Six Million, Four Hundred Thousand US. Dollars). Adequate logistics and strategies had been worked out to ensure a successful transfer with your maximum co-operation. Hence we are writing you this letter.
We have agreed to share the money thus: 1. 25% for the account owner (you) 2. 65% for us (the officials) 3. 10% to be used in settling taxation and all local and foreign expenses.
We wish to commence the importation business with our own share, please note that this transaction is 100% safe and we hope to commence and conclude the transfer latest in ten (10) banking days from the date of receipt of the following information through the above e-mail: your current tel/fax number, your name/company name and address.
The above information will enable us write letters of claim and job description respectively and these will be used to apply for payment and re-award the contract.We are looking forward to doing business with you and solicit your confidentiality in this transaction. Please acknowledge the receipt of this letter using the above email address. I will bring you into the complete picture of this project when I have heard from you.
DR. PRINCE BALOGUN