The Nigerian Scam Overview


native of:
connection to what dead dictator?
source of $
netherlands?
deceitful
australian?
certain modalities?
how much $$$?
secure location?
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 NIGERIAN SCAM AS COMPETITIVE SPORT

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.

    - R.Mc.