Pretty much everyone has received the offer to take part in what has become known as the ‘Nigerian Prince’ scam, that is also known as the Nigerian 419 scam. This takes the form of a letter asking the recipient to agree to be a partner in getting a huge amount of money out of that country that, for whatever reason, cannot be done any other way. All that you have to do is give them your bank account number and they will wire the money to you, you keep a hefty portion of the money, and send the rest to another account. Of course, all they want is access to your bank account so that they can drain it.
There is another scam where you get an email from someone you really know who claims to have been traveling in a foreign country and has been robbed of all possessions and is appealing to you to send money for him or her to get home. This scam is enabled when hackers get into a computer and gain access to that person’s address book.
Now I hear of a new scam that combines those two scams in a truly imaginative way. It involves, if you can believe it, a Nigerian astronaut who is stuck in space and needs your help to get him back to Earth.
Here’s the letter.
Subject: Nigerian Astronaut Wants To Come Home
Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)
Garki, Abuja, FCT NIGERIA
Dear Mr. Sir,
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE-STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL
I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.
In the 14-years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost $ 15,000,000 American Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost $ 3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the his trust fund we need your assistance.
Consequently, my colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total amount to your account or subsequent disbursement, since we as civil servants are prohibited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Civil Service Laws) from opening and/ or operating foreign accounts in our names.
Needless to say, the trust reposed on you at this juncture is enormous. In return, we have agreed to offer you 20 percent of the transferred sum, while 10 percent shall be set aside for incidental expenses (internal and external) between the parties in the course of the transaction. You will be mandated to remit the balance 70 percent to other accounts in due course.
Kindly expedite action as we are behind schedule to enable us include downpayment in this financial quarter.
Please acknowledge the receipt of this message via my direct number 234 (0) 9-234-2220 only.
Yours Sincerely, Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
If you are wondering how anyone could possibly believe such a ridiculous story with obvious errors and typos, I have written before about this scam and why they deliberately create such an implausible story. It turns out that an outlandish story is more cost effective than a plausible one. They want to make sure that the people who respond to these initial appeals are really dopes who will not later realize, as the scammers go through the process of getting them to take part, that they are being scammed
You have to give these people points for sheer imaginativeness.