|001: Johnson Vander Mulaga||Zimbabwe||murdered father's legacy||yes||yes||14.5 million||gem stones|
|002: Col. Thomas Idah||Congo||close aide to Laurent Kabila||arms deal gone bad||yes||30 million||diplomatic baggage|
|003: Dr. Idris Abubakar*||Nigeria||graft on gov't business deal||35 million||credit/payment to foreign contractor|
|004: Moshood Sese Seko||Congo||son of Mobutu Sese Seko||share of father's estate||50 million||stored at "security company"|
|005: Dr. Raymond Uzor*||Nigeria||over-invoiced contract||20.5 million|
|006: Mrs. Jusitina Kabila||Congo||widow of Laurent Kabila||stolen gov't funds||yes||yes||22 million||stored as "photographic materials at "private security company"|
|007: Mrs. Maryam Abacha||Nigeria||widow of Gen. Sani Abacha||stolen gov't funds||yes||45 million||kept in "defaced form"and deposited with a "security company"|
|008: Mrs. Monica Sese Seko||Congo||widow of Mobutu Sese-Seko||stolen gov't funds||35 million||"private security company"|
|009: Mrs. Sarah Sese Seko||Congo||widow of Mobutu Sese-Seko||stolen gov't funds||20 million||"security company"|
|010: Mrs. Sandra Savimbi||Angola||daughter of Jonas Savimbi||stolen gov't funds||yes||8.5 million||"security firm"|
|011: Bosfor in Sevastapol||Ukraine||percentage of deal to sell "self-propelled marine crane"|
|012: Chief Magna Yamani*||Nigeria||kickback on contract||7 million||in "suspense account" at First Chartered Bank Lagos|
|013: Lewis Changara||Zimbabwe||murdered father's legacy||yes||8.5 million||"private security company"|
|015: Mr. Toma Savimbi||Angola||son of Jonas Savimbi||profits from arms smuggling||14.2 million||"security firm"|
|016: Godfery Yakubu||South Africa||dead father's legacy||15 million||hidden in "truck box" at "security company"|
|017: Marian Sese Seko||Congo||widow of Mobutu Sese-Seko||stolen gov't funds||yes||yes||35 million||"security company"|
|018: Mrs. Felicia Kabila||Congo||widow of Laurent Kabila||stolen gov't funds||yes||yes||20 million||"private security company"|
|019: Sandy Lee||Washington Lake, WA, USA|
|020: Mr. Okorie Ikell||Sierra Leone||son of "former Chief of defense staff and elder Consine to major Johnny Paul Koromoh"||stolen gov't funds||yes||15 million||"security firm"|
|021: Mrs. Thaddee Kabila||Congo||widow of Laurent Kabila||stolen gov't funds||yes||yes||22 million||"private security company"|
|022: Timothy Mobutu||Congo||son of Mobutu Sese Seko||stolen gov't funds||yes||25 million||"security firm"|
|023: Mrs. M. Sese Seko||Congo||widow of Mobutu Sese-Seko||stolen gov't funds||yes||30 million||"security company"|
|024: Mr. Philip Williams*||South Africa||unclaimed dead Canadian's bank account||25 million||bank account|
|025: Godwin Madabe||Zimbabwe||murdered father's legacy||yes||yes||9 million||"security company"|
|026: Mrs. Mariam Abacha||Nigeria||widow of Gen. Sani Abacha||kickback on deal with Russian firm||30 million||deposited with "security company" as "family treasure in two trunks"|
|027: Pellati Mutti||Zimbabwe||murdered father's legacy||yes||yes||9 million||"private security company"|
|028: Dr. Frank Bamawo*||Nigeria||over-invoice on pipeline contract||yes||9.6 million||"floating in one of the offshore banks of Central Bank of Nigeria in Canada"|
|029: Randy Lawani||Congo||representative of "family of Laurent Kabila"||stolen gov't funds||yes||9 million||in "security company vault"|
|030: Mrs. Marian Sese Seko||Congo||widow of Mobutu Sese-Seko||stolen gov't funds||yes||25 million||"security company"|
|031: Lauren Ntobo||Zimbabwe||murdered father's legacy||yes||yes||4.5 million||gem stones|
|032: Mrs. Hajia Mariam Abacha||Nigeria||widow of Gen. Sani Abacha||stolen gov't funds||yes (2x)||40.3 million||deposited with "diplomatic courier company"|
|033: Paul Savimbi||Angola||nephew of Jonas Savimbi||money from diamond sales||yes||18.5 million||"Discount house & Security company"|
|034: Bosfor in Sevastapol||Ukraine||percentage of deal to sell "vintage yacht"|
|035: Dr. Adeniji Jones*||Nigeria||over-invoice on oil contract||yes||yes (2x)||65 million|
|036: Mr. Johnson Dikko*||Nigeria||inactive account belonging to the late "Mobutou Seseseko"||18 million||locked in two boxes in vault|
|037: Mr. Tunji Davis*||Nigeria||over-invoice on oil contract||yes||30 million|
|038: Dr. Gina Amadasun*||Nigeria||over-invoice on oil contract||85.6 million|
|039: Mr. Abu Bello||seeks donations for peace campaign|
|040: Mr. Yank Domas||Sierra Leone||Son of former minister of finance (Domas Makabo) of the Republic of Sierra-Leone||stolen gov't funds||yes||12.5 million||"in the custody of the diplomatic courier company"|
|041: Imo Imma||Ivory Coast||murdered father's legacy||18.5 million||"suspense account"|
* = "classic" nigerian scam letter
The classic, mail-based Nigerian Scam was based on a widespread assumption of government corruption in an oil-rich African country like Nigeria, and the eagerness of its bureaucrats and elected officials to use graft, kickbacks, and over-invoicing to profit from that wealth - and, generously, to pass that wealth on to you should you choose to aid them in spiriting the money out of the country.
That respected bedrock of the artform is present here (in entries #12 and #28), but it has mostly run its course, and been overtaken by an evolution of the Scam better suited to our thrilling but confusing information age. The new, e-mail based Nigerian scam is more politically inspired, based on the reasonable assumption that survivors of Africa's kleptocrat leaders are constantly fleeing their countries with the nation's looted wealth during frequent interludes of civil strife. It's an evolution of the form that supposes a vague familiarity with African politics on the part of prospective victims, who are expected to nod sagely when reading the pleading e-mail: "Yes, I think I've heard of this Sani Abacha fellow."
The venue has widened, from Nigeria to places like that tragic hotspot of post-despotism, Zaire/The Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Mobutu Sese-Seko's longstanding dictatorship was overthrown by Laurent Kabila's rebel insurrection, which was in turn toppled by an internal coup that benefitted Kabila's son. Civil chaos this extreme, even Shakespearean, implies endless opportunities for discrete looting of government funds.
This chart is meant as a useful checklist on variations of the Nigerian Scam, with each country given a colour code. The colour is carried along each row if the letter in question conforms to standard characteristics - I like to call them "venerable traditions" - of the form. Widow/offspring of dead dictator? Check. Subtle admission that money is looted government funds? Check. Asylum in Netherlands, or other connection with country? Check. Marks are often given for adhering to ancillary, but inspired, elaborations on the classic form: Deceitful Australian? Use of charming but archaic "modalities" phrase? Check and check.
In the case of the Congo, where wives and offspring of both Mobutu and Kabila are appealing for our help, a minor colour variation is used, which doesn't imply departure from classic form or loss of points. Entries from Zimbabwe, another major variation of the form, are marked according to their adherence to the venerable and heart-rending "murdered father's legacy".
Anomalous entries, like that of the Ukraine, or Miss Sandy Lee's charming effort, are left without an assigned hue. Departure from form early on is almost always a disqualifying mark. Promising innovations - like Abu Bello's plea (#39) for funds for a "peace campaign" against, one assumes, war with Iraq - are watched carefully, however; an anomalous entry can turn out to be the harbinger of a whole new style in the creatively rich 419 genre.
The final judging criterion, of course, is an invocation of the indefinable but reassuring "private security company" as a safe harbour for funds. Creative departures from the classic form - the gem stones or the "suspense account" - are appreciated, of course, but contribute little to the final tally. As in judging Olympic sports or ballroom dancing, creativity is appreciated, but a display of classic form is inevitably more valued. If, say, the "gem stone" variation becomes more accepted, however, it will be added to the judging criteria and scored accordingly.