Articles in the LOOKOUT section of this website span a number of decades and are re-published on behalf of Adrian van Leen for research purposes. Original dates are being added to articles so as to place them in their correct historical setting(s). Adrian has endeavoured to be as fair and accurate as possible at the time of the original writing, but please note that the original article information may no longer reflect the subsequent or current actions, values, beliefs, positions, opinions, teachings or policies held by individuals, groups and/or organisations referred to in the original published article at the time of writing. As people change and move on, the same often applies to related Internet links; some links referred to in articles may have been changed or may no longer be available online.
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Out of Africa: The Nigerian Scam
Africa is a continent of many nations and even more ethnic tribal groups and clans – Some have described Africa as the ‘most evangelised continent’. Once the continent was the place where missionaries were sent – now Africa is sending missionaries to the West. There are good things coming out of Africa – but NOT everything coming out of Africa is good – some, in the West, are accepting almost any claim or story coming from Africa as true or valid – perhaps from a misplaced Western guilt over past mistreatment of African peoples? We need to evaluate what comes out of Africa (as well as out of other continents and countries).
One series of the things that has come out of Africa is an email scam of financial ‘rip-offs’ affecting people around the world. These financial ‘rip-offs’ have become so numerous and common – many from Nigeria, Africa, that they have become known as the Nigerian Scam. Some, like the three following examples [spelling etc as in the originals], are emails that promise vast sums of money, and couch things in religious (Christian) jargon and claims in order to entice the random recipients into responding and then eventually giving away personal details (including bank account details) so that these can be used to access and steal (NOT give, or provide) money from the foolish, gullible or greedy. Sadly, these scammers are quite successful, and gain great wealth from those who fall for their baited traps.
Subject: From Sister mary williams
From: “mrs_williams @sify.com>
Dearest in Christ, PLEASE ENDEAVOUR TO USE IT FOR THE CHILDREN OF GOD.
I am Mrs Mary Williams from kuwait. I am married to Dr.Henry who worked with Kuwait embassy in cote d’ivoire for nine years before he died in the year 2002. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days. Before his death we were both born again Christians. Since his death I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against.
When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of 2.5Million U.S. Dollars) with one BANK in cote d’ivoire.Presently, this money is still with the BANK.Recently, my Doctor told me that I would notlast for the next three months due to cancer problem.Though what disturbs me most is my stroke Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to church or better still a christian individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct here in.
I want a church that will use this to fund churches, orphanages and widows propagating the word of God and to ensure that the house of God is maintained. The Bible made us to understand that Blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don’t want my husband’s hard earned money to be misused by unbelievers.
I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner. Hence the reason for taking this bold decision. I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bossom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.
I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health, because of the presence of my husband’s relatives around me always. I don’t want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible.
As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the BANK in ivory coast. I will also issue you a letter of authority that will empower you as the original-beneficiary of this fund. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the lord is my shephard. My happiness is that I lived alife of a worthy Christian. Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and truth.Please always be prayerful all through your life.and any delay in your reply will give me room in searching for a church or christian individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I stated herein. Hoping to hearing from you. Remain blessed in the name of the Lord. Your sister in Christ. Mrs Mary WIlliams.
From. Sister Elizabeth Sinbi
Dearest In The Lord,
I know that this mail maybe of a surprise to you and i will be highly appreciated to have your positive response
I am Mrs Elizabeth Sinbi from Sierra Leone. I married to Mr. Isaac Sinbi who worked with Sierra Leone. Embassy in Abidjan Cote d’ivoire for nine years before his died in the year 2005.
We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days. Before his death we were both born again Christian. Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against.
When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $2.5Million ( Two.five Million U.S. Dollars)in Assistance 2000 Security Company here in Abidjan Cote d’ivoire,and adviced me that he used my name as the next of kin and that the security company officials does noty know the real content of the trunk box because of security of the money and he comorflage it as (FAMILY VALUABLES AND TREASURES) it is still with the Security Company.
Recently, my Doctor told me that i have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church or individual that will utilize this money the way Iam going to instruct herein.
I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages, widows, propagating the word of God and to endeavor that the house of God is maintained.
The Bible made us to understand that,Blessed is the hand that giveth, Itook this decision because I don? have any child that will inherit this money and I don’t want my husband? efforts to be in vain. I don? want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way.
This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace and i know with this development With God all things are possible.
As soon as Ireceive your reply I shall give you the contact of the security company here in Abidjan.I want you and the church to always pray for me because the lord is my shephard. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that Wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth.
Please always be prayerful all through your life.Contact me on the above e_mail address for more informations, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another church or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein.
Hoping to receive your reply. Remain blessed in the Lord. Yours in Christ, Sister Elizabeth Sinbi
The following example is just another of the many variations of the Nigerian Scam - some of them claim to come from another country but the true origins are sometimes near impossible to trace, and many do actually come from Nigeria:
From: Mr. Javed Main
Subject: HELP ME AND BE BLESSED.
From: Mr. Javed Main
As you read this, I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday. My name is Mr. Javed Main, a citizen of USA; I have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, which was discovered very late, due to my laxity in carrying for my health.
It has defiled all forms of medicine, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts. I have since lost my power of speech and can only manage to write now; as that has been the only way I am able to communicate.
I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone not even myself but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focus on my business as that is the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world.
I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that I know my time is near, I have willed and given most of my properties and assets to my immediate and extended family members and as well as a few close friends.
I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul and so, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I did on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in UK, Brazil and Ireland. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this my self any more. I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and donate the money, which I have there to charity organization in Bulgaria; they refused and kept the money to themselves.
Hence, I do not trust them anymore, as they seem not to be contented with what I have left for them. The last of my money which only few of them knows of is the huge cash deposit that I have with my Bank in Europe.
I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations.
Best Regards, Mr. Javed Main.
1.) These emails are never addressed to a personally known and recognised recipient. Once ‘written’, computer programmes automatically ‘spit’ them out in the thousands through the Internet, to any and all email addresses that can be accessed (and almost NO-ONE can completely block all spams - efforts to do so often lead to legitimate emails being ‘dumped’ as well). Total strangers very rarely, if ever, want to give large sums of money to other total strangers. The fraudsters and spammers do NOT know you personally. They depend on enough naive and gullible (and/or greedy) people thinking the message IS personally for them and to respond. Once they have your name and email address confirmed they can move in on you more directly.
2.) These emails are a form of Affinity Fraud - they suggest an common association or bond (‘Apostolic Greetings...Dearest In The Lord’ - we are ‘Christians’, like you; you want to help your church, we want to help you help your church). They know nothing about YOU or YOUR Church - they don’t want to help your church - they want to help THEMSELVES to YOUR money (or if they can get access to it, your church’s money).
It is amazing, that so few people who respond, seem to wake up to the fact that if Christians want to help needy churches or Christian organisations there are more needy churches and groups on the African continent (as well as in Asia, South America etc) than in Western (or Westernised) countries.
3.) These emails are intentional sympathy grabbers, deliberately trying to play on people’s ‘heart strings’ - ‘I’ve lost my wife [or husband] and now I’m dying from cancer but before I die I want to give you money - for a good cause.’ ‘i have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness.’ ‘I was a selfish and bad person, but now that I’m dying I want to make amends and help others generously. Please help me fulfil my dying dream.’ It’s one of the oldest con tricks in the book.
4.) These emails are intentionally vague and general, never supplying specific details of date, full personal address or any other specific, verifiable details - e.g. ‘right now I have only about a few months to live’ - when, exactly, is ‘right now’?? A specific date would give us a better ideas as to whether or not this person might already be dead - if this was at all true. What hospital is the dying person in? Where exactly do they live (actual address?). Why does a dying woman in Kuwait have millions of dollars in a bank in Cote d’Ivoire and a US citizen have a very large deposit in his European bank (but which one? which bank?). Which actual charities did J. Main support in the UK, Ireland and Brazil - and, as an American, why in those countries?
5.) There are inconsistencies and contradictions in many of these scam emails. Many appear (probably assumed correctly) to come from the same author(s) - sharing many common elements and even words and phrases. When individuals, or organisations, get one or more of these sort of emails per week it should raise serious questions of credibility. It is extremely naive to think it must be genuine because they use religious jargon and haven’t asked for anything (as yet). (Some are more pushy and ask, first off, for all personal details including name; address; phone numbers; bank name; account details etc - AND, sadly, there are actually hundreds of people who supply that sort of information without thinking twice, or asking some rather pertinent questions of those asking for details.)
The best (if not the ONLY) thing to do with emails such as these is to delete them immediately (and to empty your computer trash can).
NOT everything Out of Africa is true, good, or worth believing.
(First published in TAKE A CLOSER LOOK, Vol. 30 No. 1; Jan-Feb 2009)