I'm sure you're familiar with the so-called "Nigerian Scam" in one of its many incarnations. In this scam, gullible morons respond to e-mails from "a member of the (insert country) royal family/recently widowed lady/pious religious missionary attempting to build an orphanage/hospital/old folks home" who needs help in protecting many millions of dollars from someone or another, and has identified you - out of all the many billions of people in the world - as just the trustworthy person on whom he/she can rely...all he/she needs is your bank account number and related information so that they can temporarily hide their millions in your account. Of course, in exchange for your help, you will receive a generous portion of their millions as a reward.
The reward, of course, is that the scammers will use the information to loot your bank account.
You'd think that people would be smart enough to recognize that this is a scam, yet many gullible, greedy, or overly-trusting people are conned each year.
Wouldn't it be nice to turn the tables on these scumbags?
My friend Laurie sent me an e-mail the other day with a clever response to the Nigerian Scam. In this version, the prospective mark has received an e-mail soliciting donations for an orphanage somewhere in Africa...
Thank you for your kind note. It is good of you to want to care for the poor orphans. And I would like to help. I will soon be in a position to give several million dollars to the orphanage, having just agreed to help a poor widowed woman from Nigeria to transfer a large sum of money out of the country and into the safety of a U.S. bank. According to the widow, I will soon be in possession of approximately $15 million for my efforts, and I would like to give half of it to the orphanage. To accomplish this, I will need the following:
1. Your telephone number.
2. Your social security number.
3. Your birth date.
4. The account number and other pertinent information for the bank to which the funds will be transferred.
5. The license plate number of the turnip truck from which you appear to think I recently fell.
Thank you so much, and God bless you.
I think that's brilliant, and I wish I'd thought of it.
On a related note, a year or so ago Verizon sent a repairman to my home to fix our FiOS cable that had been cut by some workmen digging a trench (the "Miss Utility" folks who marked the cable's location were about three feet off the mark...). The repairman had a very interesting accent, and I asked him where he was from. "Nigeria," he replied. "Oh, Nigeria," I said. He looked up from the split cable on which he was working and said, "Yes. I had to take this job because all the good scams were already taken."
Well, at least he was up-front about it.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.