Those Darn Nigerians

There is a new version of the 4-1-9 e-mail scam that has been going around auction sites and the "For Sale" sections of various Web communities lately. Known as the 4-1-9 scam after 4-1-9 section of the Nigerian Penal Code, most people are familiar with these scams usually from some "barrister" of some foreign country who has heard about me through a trusted source and wants me to help him get money out of the country by depositing the money in my account. I get so many of these letters I figure I must be on some Nigerian telephone booth somewhere: "for a good time and a trusted source to transfer money contact Bill at..."

I became aware of the latest incarnation of this scam recently when I was trying to sell a couple of guitars on a music forum I frequent. After I posted the sale, I got a letter from "Trisha Emde from Belgium" who wanted to know how much I wanted. I responded with my price of $3,200 and got an immediate response that this was acceptable. Then the following e-mail arrived:



"Hello Bill,

Thanks for your response. Due to shipping and insurance, and that a shipping company is coming to pick up from you. You will receive a money order of $6,000 then you deduct the cost price $3,200 for it, then you will assist in forwarding the shipping cost which is the balance/extra to the shipper who will be coming to pick up, and this must be done in good faith. I will like to read from you concerning this shipping arrangement before processing and sending the payment out to you. Thanks for your co-operation, while awaiting your response"

Of course what happens next is that you received a forged money order, pay the shipper the balance and you are then out one guitar, and whatever you give the shipper. Interestingly, everyone on the forum that was selling something received the same pitch from Trisha. And that is one forum.

What you have to admire about this scam is the targeted nature of it. Unlike the typical Nigerian scam, which is sent out en masse, this one has to be personalized. They have to get your address from the forum, engage you in conversation about your instrument, figure out a dollar amount that they will try and soak you for, and arrange for the shipper to pick it up. As a result, this scam is less known than the hidden bank account scams we are so used to. You only receive it if you have placed something up for sale, and it sounds okay. They are going to send a cashiers check after all.

A nice aspect to this scam is that you can even deposit the check and wait five business days, figuring that it would clear by then. But because it takes much longer to clear a foreign account, you could assume the check cleared and still have your bank stamp "counterfeit" two weeks later.

In my case, being the smart guy that I am, I would probably tell the person, okay but tell your shipper to come after the check clears. The $6,000 dollars arrives which I deposit. I wait five business days. Check seems to have cleared. I call in the shipper and give him $2,000, the difference between my sale plus shipping and what Trisha sent. Bye-bye guitar and $2,000 and a week later, my cleared postal order is discovered to be made of rubber. Bye-bye $6,000.

You have got to give it to those darn Nigerians!

Next story loading loading..