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Of spams and scams

March 23, 2001: This message was distributed by Papyrus News. Feel free to forward this message to others, preferably with this introduction. For info on Papyrus News, including how to (un)subscribe or access archives, see <>.

I'm sharing this scam-spam I received in part because it's kind of funny. Could anybody in the world possibly believe that they were contacted out of the blue to receive $13,000,000 for opening a bank account?

For those of you who haven't seen these kind of spams before, they work in one of two ways. Either you have to provide all your financial information to get infolved (in which case the spammers make illegal withdrawals from your account), or you have to give a deposit of a couple thousand dollars in order to open this magic account in which you'll supposedly receive millions of dollars.

I guess there's two ways that such a spam could reach the appropriately gullible person. One is through very careful targetting of select people. Perhaps the elderly, the utterly confused, someone who knows somebody Nigerian. However, that's a lot of work to target and find people like that.

The other way is to send something out untargetted to several million people, with the hope that you might just possibly reach 1-2 suckers out of a million. And that's pretty easy in the Internet age, because it is the "spammees" rather than the spammers who bear the cost of receiving spam (i.e., through extra email in their boxes).

[Of course this only one small manifestation of a much bigger international crime problem that has been facilitated by information and communication technologies and the networked international economy (see discussion in Castells, M., 1998, _End of Millennium_ Malden, MA: Blackwell.) Along the same lines, I just read a sad article about what a boon the Internet has been to the International child pornography industry.]

One thing that comes to mind is that this particular scam-spam below would be a great reading for an English language course. I can imagine about 2 weeks of productive language (and critical thinking) activities that could stem from this single message! If anybody decides to use this with students, let me know how it turns out.

Another interesting area that I myself haven't pursued--but I'm sure somebody has--is discourse analysis of e-mail spams. What language manuevers make a spam effective, if not to the bulk of us, at least to the the small minority?

Anyway, sorry to "spam" you with this message, but I hope you've found this one as funny as I have (even if the underlying problem of spam is anything but funny at all.)

Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 04:12:52 -0800
From: "Songo Erims"

Dear Sir,


In a brief introduction, I am Songo Erims, a Sierra Leonean by Nationality, I am the son of Late Dr. Leonard Erims, who was assassinated in Freetown on the 2nd of July 1999 by Rebels led by Major John Paul Koroma. My late father was Anti Koroma, he was opposed to the way President Tijan Kabbah was overthrown and forced into exile.

Before his assassination, my father was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sierra Leonean National Diamonds and Gold Corporation. The war forced us to flee to a neighbouring village until the West African Peace Keeping Force ìECOMOGî took control of my village, Mende. Then I decided to go back to our family to search for some valuables and vital documents.

In my search, I found keys to my Late Fatherís Underground Safe, where I discovered three metallic Boxes containing huge amount of money; Forty Five Million US Dollars (US$45,000,000.00). With the help of a fisherman that operates a fishing trawler, I was able to take these Boxes to Abidjan, Cotedí ivore through Coastal Waters and deposited them with a security company as Artifacts and Family Valuables for safe-keeping. Right now, an arrangement has been concluded to evacuate the Boxes to Europe by the security company to a sister company.

After depositing the Boxes with the security company for safe-keeping, I was tempted to go back to Sierra Leone to take other valuables belonging to my family, on my way I was captured and conscripted by the Rebel Army. Today by divine intervention, peace pact has been signed, hence cease-fire put in place. Now I am seeking political asylum in Nigeria because of the language barrier in Abidjan. I want to look for a reliable foreign partner who will assist me to transfer this money to his account for investment.

Conditions for the business:
1. I shall meet with you with the security company in Europe to enable us sign an agreement so that we will be protected, then a domiciliary account will be opened in your name at any bank over there where the money will be lodged before onward transfer to your offshore account for investment.
2. You will provide a lucrative business in your country in which this money will be invested for our future benefits.
3. For assisting me in this transaction I will offer you 30% of the total sum, and both of us will be joint owners in any business this money is invested.

Please note: If my proposal is of interest to you, while e-mailing me please include your telephone and fax numbers. All other pieces of information will be forwarded to you as the business commences.

As you may wonder how I got to know you, I got your details from a friend working with Nigerian Airways, but I did not give him details concerning the nature of the business.

I am eagerly waiting to hear from you as soon as possible.

Best regards,

Songo Erims.

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Last updated: March 23, 2001 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0