Thursday 11 December 2008

To Victor Yagba

Basic analysis of a scam letter

Every once in a while I receive one of these amusing letters from Africa offering grand opportunities to make money or engage in some nefarious business activity.

At one time, I sent the email to the Nigerian Embassy in the hope that it would be investigated by our anti-graft agencies but I soon realised that the ambassador was more interested in painting us all in the worst light than tackling issues that besmirch the good name of Nigeria.

Anyway this email arrived this morning and I felt I needed to analyse the matter just to highlight how and why this is a scam and why it would be criminal to engage in any business with people who send you letters like this.

My comments appear in brackets inline in blue within the document.

The address

From Victor Yagba

[Maybe I would have been more impressed if it had come from the office of Victor Yagba but one should not pass judgement so soon and early in the reading of the letter]

Private and Confidential

Abidjan - Côte d'Ivoire.

My Dearest One,

[My Dearest One? A long lost beau or someone who does not know how to address a formal letter and hopes that flattery would butter up the dormant fool in me to part with my money]

It is my pleasure to contact you for a business venture which I and my junoir sister, Intend to establish in your country. Though I have not met with you before but I believe, one has to risk confiding in someone to succeed sometimes in life.

[In my country? He probably does not know what country I am in, besides, if you had not met me before, you cannot be so familiar with me and address me as dearest. I do not want to be kept in confidence by complete strangers but I think there is something fishy here.

Do you not have a spell checker to ensure that your junoir sister is properly represented as junior in your quest – in fact the correct usage is younger sister, not junior sister.]

Whose confidence

I am Victor Yagba, the only son of late Chief Fredrick Yagba, from Sierra Leone in west africa. My sources of your contact gave me the courage and confidence to rely on you.

[Nice to meet you Victor Yagba, I do not know you nor your father and none of my Sierra-Leonean friends would have offered my details to you for anything.

At least we have the courtesy to first contact a person before handing over their detail – it is just the honest and decent thing to do. West Africa could do with initial capital letters. You might have courage and confidence but that is a two-way street, have you wondered if I would have any courage or confidence in you? If I had any confidence it would in thinking you are a confidence trickster.

In the end, no respectable contact of mine that really knows me would ever give up my details to anyone without first informing me and obtaining my permission. Why did they not take up your offer and rather passed you on to me?

However, let us hear your story.]

Show me the money

There is this amount of FIFTEEN Million US Dollars ($ which my late father deposited with a BANK in Abidjan Capital city of Cote d'Ivoire which he wanted to used for his political ambition in our Country before he was assassinated.

[I am sorry your father was assassinated but why would he put money for his political ambitions in another country other than the one in which he is planning to contest?

I am really surprised that he could have invested this money in some other worthwhile cause rather than in African politics, it probably suggests that the source of this wealth is unauditable or ill-gotten – interesting man your father was.

If he was that rich I am also surprised he was not able to hire good enough security detail to protect him and also how did he make such rotten enemies that they could only get even by killing him.

If you were to lay your hands on this money, what is to say those assassins would not come after you and in fact, they might also come after me.

It is a lot of money by any standards and enough for anyone to kill for given the right circumstances.]

Parent crook with crooked children

Now I and my junior sister have decided to invest this money in your country or anywhere safe enough outside Africa for security and political reasons.

[My younger sister and I have decided, well, have you?

If your father was investing in politics, I wonder where you and your sister might have acquired your business acumen from.

Your stupid father should have written a decent will and testament to take care of you in his afterlife, I would suppose he died intestate and there is probably a dirty scramble for his wealth.

I would even suggest you probably could not get your hands on the more tangible assets of your father having been edged out by other heavyweights that you are not going after this fantasy amount in some non-descript account in Cote d’Ivoire.

If you legitimately had access to this money, there would be no reason to engage a third-party to move it around.]

Investing in loss leaders

We want you to help us claim and receive this money which will be transferred to your safe bank account avoid any traces of the funds and to enable you plan for the investment in your Country. I will like to invest part of the money into these three investments in your Country but, if there is any other business that is better than my suggestion, I will be very glad to follow your advice.

1). Real estate

2). The transport industry

3). Five star hotel

[This is where you really show that you think I am an idiot or you are just plain stupid. Where have you been in the world in the last 18 months? Who is investing in real estate anywhere in the world today?

House prices are falling, commercial property is cheap as dirt, everyone is offloading their portfolios, even Dubai is slowing down on their fantastic developments.

Transport industry, like one of those ramshackle buses in Sierra Leone or what really? Road haulage, do you have any idea of what it takes to run a logistics business because that is what road haulage is all about and now with a paltry $15 million?]

You will not build a decent 1-star hotel with $15 million if you wanted one that would make you any money – the tourist industry is suffering already and in other places the prices have fallen so much it is impossible to be competitive.]

3 million smackeroonies

If you can be of an assistance to us we will be pleased to offer to you 20% Of the total fund while the balance will be invested by you. I await your soonest response.

[I can be of great assistance, find a good cliff in Sierra Leone and take a good running jump off it, make sure there are rocks below, you do not want to live through this tale again.

20% of the total fund is $3 million and I was almost tempted but if only you were just a little smart and knew what you were talking about, you might have had a chance. In fact, I do not get involved with shady unknown people for anything.

I’ll make you a better deal, I’ll take 100% of the total fund and have you and your sister committed to a sanatorium and corrective institution where hopefully in time you might become responsible members of society.

Now, I would have liked to reply but I cannot find a return address, looks like I have been blind-copied or something sinister so a public response might just suffice.]

Respectfully yours,

[I have no respect for you, your mission and your father or your ilk – you guys make me sick.]

Victor Yagba

[Finally, is this you on the 419 Scam [1] site? They say your message is an orphan scam, no wonder I cannot respond – I suppose that puts paid to this criminal scheme – Woe betide you and your kin.]


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