November 09, 2007

Imagining a Class Instructing Nigerian Scammers

"Okay class, today we're going to dispense with esoteric theory and discuss in practical terms what it takes to be a successful 4-1-9 scammer.

First off, you need a subject headline and it needs to grab the attention of the Western - typically American - recipient.

You must know that Westerners are obsessed with business and are extremely time-conscious. Thus, over ten years of scamming experience has shown that the header:

AN URGENT BUSINESS PROPOSAL.

...is most effective. All capitals allows it to stand out from other emails. The word "urgent" is a way to get across to the recipient that we are not going to waste their time! This is what they value most of all over there. Westerners have a saying: "Time is money"! Can you imagine that? Money here is scarce and time is plentiful so it's an odd locution. But to them the word urgent takes on great meaning.

The next phrase, "business proposal", is to Westerners what "marriage proposal" is to your unmarried aunt in Narobi. It really gets their attention.

In the body of the email you'll want to start out with a very official looking address in order to let the reader know how serious this offer is. You might try:
GLOBAL SECURITY AND FINANCE COMPANY.
PLOT 1004, ACCRA GHANA,
WEST AFRICA
The word "security" is important because most recipients will be very skeptical of your proposal and Westerners like security.

You'll want a salutation not too friendly nor too distant. "HELLO" works. Tell them you got their email through a private search. "Private" implies exclusive and Westerners like exclusive resorts and private clubs.

In the second paragraph you'll want to explain how a government contractor desposited the sum of US$ 30MILLION. Spell the amount out in parens for them: (THIRTY MILLION US. DOLLARS). This will reinforce the amount of money at stake. Mention how the government contractor died a few years ago and none of his next of kin have come forward to claim the money -- Hey, hey, stop laughing back there! I know it's hard to believe but this stuff works..."

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