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Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Three years ago while at a comics convention in Bristol, England, I met a young Irishman named Declan Shalvey, a personable guy with a ready wit and the ability to hold his liquor better than many of the literally sliding-down-the-wall attendees (yeah, I'm talking about you, Alex!). We hit it off quite well and exchanged email info, beginning an internet friendship that continues to this day.

So I get in to work this morning and while perusing the first of the day's emails I spotted something new from Declan, a missive entitled "Emergency;I Need Your Help Soon." Appalled though I was at the use of the colon in the title, I opened the email and read the following:

How are you doing today? I am sorry I didn't inform you about my traveling to Africa for a program called "Empowering Youth to Fight Racism, HIV/AIDS, Poverty and Lack of Education, the program is taking place in three major countries in Africa which is Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria. It had been a very sad and bad moment for me here; the present condition that I found myself is very difficult for me to explain.

I am really stranded in Nigeria at this moment because I forgot my little bag in a Taxi where my money, passport, documents and other valuable things were kept on my way to the Hotel I am staying, I am facing a hard time and lots difficulties here because I have no money on me. I now owe a hotel bill of $850.85 and they wanted me to pay the bill soon else they will have to get me embarrassed up and detained by the hotel management. Please I need urgent help from you, I only need you to help me with the hotel bill and I will also need $800 to feed and help myself back home. I had been to the State Embassy and they were so kind to assist me with some money and I paid part of the hotel bill.

Please can you help me with a sum of $1,350 to sort out my problems here and get back home, I don't even have money to feed myself for a day, which I had to starve for many days if I continue staying here. Kindly help me transfer some money as soon as you got my e-mail either through the Western Union or Money Gram to re-arrange from my misfortune here and help myself get back home soon.

Try to understand how bitterer I feel this moment I'm writing you. I needed this help so much and on time to get out of this mess because I am in a terrible and tight corner right now.
Also thank the hotel manager "Mr. John Ken" he had so much helped me here, he assisted talked to the hotel management before they extended my days of staying even after my misfortune until I get in touch with any of the friends that cares to help me out here. Please don't feel so much bothered incase you called and couldn't hear from me because many a times the hotel management does not allow emergency calls here due to languages involved and other security reasons, I am alright presently all I needed right now is your financial aid to sort things out here and get back home safely.

I am sending you this e-mail from the city local Library and I only have 30 min, I will appreciate what so ever you can afford to send me for now and I promised to pay back your money as soon as I get back home, I'm forwarding along with my personal details for you to go any Western Union or Money-gram immediately and transfer the money because I need to be safe here and get back home shortly. It very unfortunate i lost all my contact with most Friends that would so much loved helping me back home if they get to know this. I will contact to create your awareness immediately I received the funds. I am so much glad I contacted you in a bad moment like this because of your concern and lovely care

Please if you really care for me, want me happy and need me safe back home; kindly take my below details to the nearest Western Union or Money Gram and Transfer some money for me to pay the hotel bill and return home. You can get back to me via e-mail or through the hotel manager "MR.JOHN KEN" regarding the MTCN for pick up if any.

Please don't disclose my request before friends, just keep everything within yourself until I get back I will explain better. Below are my details you can transfer the money for me to pick up here.


NAME: Declan Shalvey
Address: 23/25, Maryland Street, MI NIGERIA. 23401
TEXT QUESTION: Who Is The Receiver
Hotel Name: Quarter Jack Mild Int'l Lodge & Suits

Hotel Line: +234-705-5610-969, +234-1-419-2036



I was understandably upset by this, and wrote back to explain that I'm in no way financially flush enough to even think of sending anything, but I wished him the best anyway. Not two minutes after I sent of my reply, I received this:

Hi all,

sorry for the blanket email, but it seems some fecker broke into my email account last night and sent some spammy email to lots of folk in my contacts list. Everythings fine now, but if you see a mail from 'me' saying something about Nigeria or me needing help, please delete and ignore it.

Sorry for the annoyance, believe me, i'm far more annoyed!



Needless to say, I felt pretty stupid. I should have figured it was an attempted ripoff because the letter sounds way to formal to have been from Declan, but I guess that's how these internet scammers con people every day, by preying on their all-too-human concern for friends, loved ones, and worthy causes.

"Shaft in Africa," indeed.


Jim Browski said...

"the letter sounds way to formal to have been from Declan"

It also sounds like someone who failed an "English as a Second Language" class.
I'm glad you didn't send any $.
I usually get emails like this, though mine are from members of a "wealthy and prominent family" who will reward me handsomely for depositing their fortune into my bank account. Needless to say, when I write back to tell them where to shove their "fortune", my email is returned by the MAILER DAEMON.

Dec said...

'Wealthy and prominent family' you say.... hmmm.....

I am VERY glad you didn't send money, as it would be squarely my fault!

Also ...hmmm ....i guess i AM kinda like Shaft, just replace the street-wise smarts and African heritage with a pasty-skinned, smart alec Irishman.


Senter said...

Why is Nigeria the capital of e-mail fraud?

By the way, I have a large sum of money tied up in a bank in Mozambique. All I need is some seed money and a bank account number from you...

Ken Pierce said...

Bunche-man, I was fascinated at the amazing levels the purveyors of the "419" scam or "Advance Fee Fraud" folks take and wanted to share this insightful Wikipedia document about it.

There are avenues to report this, but its important that whomever gets it never attempts to be a hero themselves as it can have consequences. Horns up,


A.S. Kasah said...

Similar incident has arrived in Malaysia where my close friend was a victim of this scam. Many of my friends who we used to communicate each other received similar emails but fortunately we were fast to react to check his whereabout, We found out he was in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah alive and kicking.

The scammer, I presumed is from Nigeria. I've posted something about the scam in my blog Thank you very much for putting the story in your blog that served as a reference to me to ascertain the email we received. Wonderful blog you have. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

To too just got an email just yesterday like this one. May 8, 2008.

The email was from a friend I had worked with a few years ago and I was very concerned. Glad I did some more research and found this site.

They haven't changed the email much and Mr. Jon Ken is still the name given on the return email if you send something back.

Thanks for your blog. A lot of help!


Anonymous said...

My Husband got the exact same email today morning and he showed it to me. We confirmed from few of our friends who also got the same email .Also when checked over the internet for the Hotel info ,this link came up and after reading all the entries , we finally concluded the email was fraud.
thanks a lot for all the entries....we were saved !!!


Anonymous said...

I got a very similar email from a girl that bought a journal from me over ebay. I obviously did not send $2300, but it freaked me out a bit, that they can use those people's email addresses and pretend being them.

Interestingly enough my email spam filter picked up on it and put it into spam. I responded to the email saying I was not very rich and could not send money and for her to go to the embassy.

"She" responded quickly from the hotel's library (LOL) and said that she was so thankful that I would help her out and that she only has 30 mins.

I bet a few people will send money because it is the email of a good friend. Luckily I hardly knew this lady from ebay.

Keep me updated on this,