Two Warnings to Readers

August 5, 2004 | 16 comments
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A reader e-mailed in to say that he’s received e-mail spam for the Nigerian scam on an e-mail account that he uses exclusively for Times and Seasons posting. Two warnings are in order for readers.

First, if there was any question about whether spam spiders (programs used to harvest e-mail addresses off the web) would find T & S, that question has been concretely answered. Spam spiders will harvest addresses from anywhere they find, and they’ve found us.

There’s not anything that we can do about this on the blog side. As a general matter, you shouldn’t put an e-mail address on the web if you’re not prepared for it to eventually become known to the public, including spammers. To avoid spam, many people use a separate e-mail account — you can open free ones at places like Hotmail and Yahoo, and many ISPs, like Earthlink or AOL, will give you a bunch of free extra addresses. Also, make sure that you’re running up-to-date virus protection software, and a firewall if possible. (Zone Alarm is free for personal use).

Second, the specific case of the Nigerian scammers. These are the e-mails that claim to be from government officials or businessmen trying to move money out of a country in Africa or Asia, and needing your help (and promising you a share of the profit). They typically promise million-dollar-plus profit for people who aid them. I’ll be as clear as I can — DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THESE SCAMS. They are run by people who are very dangerous. Almost all of these e-mail originate from organized crime syndicates in Nigeria (hence the label). At the very least, they’ll ask for as much upfront money as you’ll give them, and you’ll never see that money again. If you try to get it back, you may get hurt (the criminals have been known to lure victims to Nigeria, then kidnap them for ransom). For further information, see here (Snopes.com) or here (Secret Service).

16 Responses to Two Warnings to Readers

  1. John on August 5, 2004 at 8:59 am

    I got it too. I had to look for it though, google’s spam filter caught it and I had no idea that it was there. Interestingly this one seems to have a religious theme. I think I’ll reply with an admonition to repent.

  2. danithew on August 5, 2004 at 10:38 am

    It’s true that these Nigerian emails are total scams and it is also true that we should have nothing to do with them.

    However, we can also chuckle at some of the funny things that are happening when the “scamees” scam the scammers. Here’s a link:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3887493.stm

    Anyone else here willing to join the Holy Church of the Order of the Red Breast?

  3. Kaimi on August 5, 2004 at 11:36 am

    Here are a few stories of people who were scammed:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/3235471.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3522605.stm

    Surprisingly, according to one article, the typical profile of someone scammed is “an experienced, small businessman, highly educated, 40-ish, with plenty of disposable income. . . [with a] workforce of 10-15 people.”

  4. Kim Siever on August 5, 2004 at 11:39 am

    Better yet, how about Captain Kirk?

  5. Kaimi on August 5, 2004 at 11:40 am

    Another article has this fascinating description of one trick used by the scammers:

    The victim is told their money is waiting for them in a foreign country, such as Germany. On arrival, they meet their contact who opens a briefcase filled with black wads of paper.

    These are $100 bills, according to the fraudster, dyed black to evade customs in their country of origin, usually somewhere in West Africa.

    The victim watches as a black note from the case is sprayed with special chemical and, by sleight of hand, a $100 bill is produced.

    A payment of just $50,000 will secure enough of the chemical to clean up the cash in the case.

    “Of course, it’s just water” said Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Moore of the City of London police, “and the black notes just worthless pieces of paper”.

    See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3494072.stm

  6. Aaron Brown on August 5, 2004 at 12:00 pm

    I find it really hard to believe that people actually fall for this stuff. I have received various versions of the Nigerian email over the last year or so. I finally decided to respond to one and feign exuberant interest, just to see where it would lead. I never received any response. I figured I must have come off somewhat sarcastic in my reply such that the emailer figured I wasn’t really interested.

    Aaron B

  7. ronin on August 5, 2004 at 12:52 pm

    Check out: http://www.ebolamonkeyman.com
    he is a guy in California, who decided to try to beat the scammers at thir own game, read the stuff, it is hilarious ( though, I must warn, sometimes a bit profane!!)

  8. Measure on August 5, 2004 at 1:07 pm

    Sure enough, when I checked my gmail spam folder, I had 2 messages for a nigerian money scam… My first legitimate junkmail with this email addy.

    I wonder why they thought T&S readers were a good target?

  9. Kaimi on August 5, 2004 at 2:35 pm

    It’s probably one of a hundred web sites that a spam spider found and harvested for them.

    But hey, maybe they know about the Mormon affinity for Amway and MLM-type scams. :)

  10. John on August 5, 2004 at 2:45 pm

    Kaimi, How about the Mormon affinity for any type of scam? I have often heard it said that Salt Lake City is the scam capitol of the USA. Is this true? I am aware of scams that have made their way through the Mormon community, and it is interesting to see the interaction of faith, trust, and fraud.

  11. Chad too on August 5, 2004 at 2:59 pm

    We made a family rule very early on in our marriage: we will not participate in any business dealings with members of the Church. There are just too many examples of this driving wedges, hurting feelings, losing money, and costing testimonies.

    We also refuse to buy products from members of the Church unless those products are available to all members of the public and are purchased through a legitimate bricks-and-mortar store with a legitimate business license.

    Anytime anyone asks to come over to “practice” their sales pitch we just invoke the rule. It’s nothing personal, just against family policy.

  12. Kaimi on August 5, 2004 at 3:22 pm

    John,

    I think that church members have a higher-than-normal susceptibility to financial scams. I posted on this topic previously, several months ago, and rather than repeat I’ll just link it (because my thoughts haven’t changed on the matter):

    Prior Post on Church Members and Financial Scams

  13. Dr. Bisi Odum, Notary Public on August 6, 2004 at 5:17 am

    Outstanding article from Salon.com about this subject here (I also pasted it into the URL bar) – very funny account of the author entering into correspondence with some of the scammers

    http://archive.salon.com/people/feature/2001/08/07/419scams/print.html

  14. Dr. Bisi Odum, Notary Public on August 6, 2004 at 5:20 am

    Outstanding article from Salon.com about this subject here (I also pasted it into the URL bar) – very funny account of the author entering into correspondence with some of the scammers

    http://archive.salon.com/people/feature/2001/08/07/419scams/print.html

  15. danithew on August 6, 2004 at 4:10 pm

    Kaimi, your timing in making this warning post was impeccable, especially since I just found this in my inbox. What I can’t figure out is how this Barrister fellow figured out my deep love and appreciation for Benny Hinn. He says he discovered me at a Christian web-site … could it have been the Times and Seasons? :)

    Dear Beloved in Christ,
    It is by the grace of God that I received Christ,
    knowing the truth and the truth have set me free.
    Having known the truth, I had no choice than to do
    what is lawful and right in the sight of God for
    eternal life and in the sight of man for witness of God´s mercy and glory upon my life.

    I have the pleasure to share my testimony with you, having seen your contact from the Internet. I am Barrister GEORGE FRANK, the legal adviser to late Mr. and Mrs. Bright Williams, a British couple that lived in my Country Nigeria for 25 years before they both died in a plane crash late last year. These couples were good Christians, they where so dedicated to God but they had no child till they died.

    Throughout their stay in my country, they acquired a lot of propertieslike lands, house properties, etc.

    As their legal adviser, before their death, the
    husband Mr. Bright Williams instructed me to write his WILL. Because they had no child, they dedicated their wealth to God. According to the WILL, the properties have to be sold and the money be given out to a ministry for the work of God. As their legal adviser, all the documents for the properties were in my care. He gave me the authority to sell the properties and give out the fund to the Ministries for the work of
    God.

    In short, I sold all the properties after their death, as instructed by Mr. Bright Williams before his death. And as a matter of fact, after I sold all their properties, I realized more than $3.5,000,000.00(three million five hundred thousand US dollars plus), and what supposed to be the percentage interest of my right legal fee was firstly deducted by me out of the total amount realized from the sold properties, this was base on the initial agreement between me and the owner of the properties before his death.

    Therefore the total amount left to be invested into God’s work as instructed by the owner, is US$3.5 MILLION only. But Instead of giving the main fund out for the work of God as instructed to me by the owner before his death. I converted the fund to myself with the intention of investing the fund abroad for my personal
    use. I had encounter with Christ when Pastor Benny Hinn was preaching on television concerning Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5:1-11. After hearing the word of God, I gave my life to Christ and became a born again Christian.

    As a born again Christian, I have asked God for
    forgiveness and I know that God have forgiven me. But I have to do what is lawful and right in the sight of God by giving out the fund to the chosen ministry/individual for the purpose of God’s work as instructed by the owner before his death. I then came across your address on the Internet as I
    was browsing through a Christian site, and as a matter of fact, it is not only you or your ministry that I picked on the Christian site initially, but after my fervent prayer over it, you were nominated to me through divine revelation from God, so these are how I
    received such a divine revelation from the Lord, how I got your contact information, and I then decided to contact you for the fund to be used wisely for things that will glorify the name of God.

    I have notified the bank where I deposited
    the fund that I am moving the fund abroad and the
    finance company has since been waiting for my
    authority for the fund to leave my country to abroad. if you know that you will use this fund honestly and wisely for things that will glorify God’s name,You should also forward to me your telephone and fax number for easy communication.

    Your prompt response will be highly appreciated.

    Note: reply to my private e-mail addres barristergeorge2000@faithmail.com
    Yours in Christ.
    BarristGEORGE FRANK.
    TEL:234 8033911570

  16. dan on August 6, 2004 at 5:24 pm

    There’s not anything that we can do about this on the blog side.

    Why don’t you stop displaying e-mail addresses?