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"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."-Winston S. Churchill

"The wandering scholars were bound by no lasting loyalties, were attached by no sentiment of patriotism to the states they served and were not restricted by any feeling of ancient chivalry. They proposed and carried out schemes of the blackest treachery."-C.P. Fitzgerald.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

The Lads from Lagos 

As an diversion from the Great Matters of our Time (such as the swearing in of Arnold in Sacramento, tomorrow), allow me to suggest a humorous repast. Yes, I speak of the Lads from Lagos, the Invincibles of the Inbox, the Socrates of Scams: the Nigerian 4-1-9 Advance fee Swindlers!

While not having quite the cachet as, say, Bob Avakian and the Birkenstock Boys over at the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Nigerian scammers have made quite a name for themselves over the past three years. The term "4-1-9" is derived from that section of the Nigerian Criminal Code that pertains to fraudulent activities.

Now you've all received a bit of Nigerian scam mail from time to time. Usually, the mark is told that 45 million dollars (U.S.), or thereabouts, needs to be laundered. It just so happens that the rube who opened up the e-mail has been picked to receive a ten percent fee for helping to launder the money. However, the mark is required to send a "processing fee" or "good faith money" to open an account, pay off an African strongman, or have the local gendarmerie look the other way. That's where the scammers make their money. It's a huge, huge business.

I've received several e-mails in question, all from the wives of deceased African strongmen: Laurent Kabila's wife, Jonas Savimbi's wife, Mme. Mobutu Sese-seko, and a relative of the late Jomo Kenyatta. All of them have hundreds of millions of dollars that need to be hidden from the prying eyes of the Secret Police or saved from the clutches of the Christian Children's Fund.

However, 4-1-9 has become great sport for Westerners tired of being preyed upon by greedy Nigerians. So, a game of "Scam the Scammer" has been taking the internet by storm, the object of which is to sucker the Nigerian scammer into sending you money to assist you in sending him his processing fee.

I highly recommend Scam-O-Rama as an introduction to the competitive sport of Nigerian Scammer Hunting. There you can read several "counter-scam" letters. Pay close attention to the attention given one Nigerian scammer by Princess Margaret. And do have fun.

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