Friday, 25 April 2014
Meanwhile, the Nigerian prince...
The 419 or Nigerian prince scam is one of the best known on the internet, and it apparently started before e-mails even existed. It comes nowadays in many iterations, but the gist of it is this: someone in a country far away needs your help to escape from unfair political persecution and is ready to share a vast fortune with you in exchange for a little help. All you have to do is send enough money to cover the person's air fare, as well as your bank account number so that the money can be transferred. (Sometimes true love is offered instead of the fortune, because the electronic correspondent has fallen madly in love with you after an exchange of three e-mails. You still have to send the air fare, though).
This is no mere prank, either: the people sending these e-mails are really out to get your money. Engaging in a discussion with them usually leads to a dead-end when you start asking questions, but people wishing to see how far the pirates are willing to go can get as far as be invited for a meeting in, say, the Netherlands. And they should bring money. It's pretty scary, actually!
Naturally, now that this scam is infamous the world over, a real Nigerian prince who genuinely needs help has better not trust to e-mail to ask for assistance!