I recently received a 419 scam email from Mrs. Victory Komana. 419 emails, or “Nigerian scam” emails are social engineering scam email messages, designed to separate the recipient from their money by relaying a massage of sorrow, as is in this one, or surprise for your good fortune, as in “You have just won 150 Million African Krugerrand”. The payoff – for the spammer, not for the recipient – comes when the recipient is conned into providing “upfront” money to pay off state officials or to pay for shipping. Several years ago a fellow decided to play the fools for fools, and knowing fully what was to occur, he strung them along, causing great joy and laughter. 419eater hosts his work and the work of others who make the scammers work very hard for no payoff at all.
But back to Mrs. Komana. She starts her email:
Greetings in the name of our Lord, I am Mrs. Victory Komana, a nationality of Switzerland, and I am presently hospitalized, due to my illness. I am 49 years old and I was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer for about two years now. I am a widow to Late Mr. Ronald Komana. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $19.5Million with a Bank in Benin Republic Presently this money is still in the custody of the Bank in Benin, where we spent most of our lives and I have served the Lord all through my life.
Through the first paragraph the author uses religion to try to lower my defenses. But I have hardened my defenses on a steady diet of fat babies, so this trickery doesn’t work. But let’s analyze this some. The author states that Mrs. Komana is from Switzerland, and according to recent surveys, Switzerland is between 40% and 60% atheist. While it is possible that this one was one of the religious population, it is highly unlikely that the person would be evangelical and “in your face” as this email represents. Typically the religious in that area are more reserved.
A quick google search on the name “Ronald Komana” comes up empty. It would seem that someone with the wealth to deposit $19.5 Million would have some notoriety. While that is not conclusive, it is an interesting bit of nonvidence (non evidence, get it?).
What is more intriguing is that the last name chosen – Komana – is the name of a village in Botswana. The Benin Republic is also in Africa. Remember that 419 is the name for this type of social engineering attack, and that name is from the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraud schemes. How convenient.
From all indications, my condition is serious and is quite obvious that I may not live more than six months, because the cancer stage has gotten to a very severe state and my doctor has told me this.
A key tip-off is the awkward sentence structure used here. That is an indication that the author of this email is not a native speaker of English. Kind of like Sarah Palin. The note says “the cancer stage has gotten to a very severe state” as if the stage has changed state, not the cancer. And why add “and my doctor has told me this” to the end of the sentence. The next line might as well be, “My name is Michelle Bachmann and I approve this message.” The note continues:
My late husband was well to do and after his death, I inherited all his business and wealth. Presently my doctor told me that I may not live for more than six months, though I am not scared about this, I am not afraid of death; hence I will be in the bosom of the Lord forever. So, I now decided to look for an organization or an individual who is God fearing, that will use the funds for charity organization, by contributing to the development of evangelism in the world, assisting motherless baby’s homes and poor churches all over the world.
More religious mumbo jumbo. This really could be Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann. Now comes the payoff to the email:
I selected you after searching the Internet for this purpose and prayed over it, for the fact that I always go into prayers in situations like this. I am willing to donate my husband’s wealth to you for the development of evangelism and also as aids for the less privileged around you rather than allow my husbands relatives to use my husband hard earned funds ungodly. You may contact my lawyer, Richard Adingni, with the specified address-:
More jesus talk, word salad, and the required contact number for an attorney. then…
Ensure that you copy this correspondence to his email address above and tell him that I have asked you to reach him. Please, do not reply if you have the intention of using this fund for personal use, you will have a reasonable percentage of the total funds before investing the remainder of the funds for God’s works. Lastly, I want you and your church to keep praying for me regarding my health, because I have come to find out that wealth acquisition without Christ in one’s life, is vanity upon vanity. If you have to die says the Lord, keep fit and I will give you the crown of life. May the Grace of our Lord be with you now and forever more, amen?
I do think it ended very well, with the question mark. It’s as if the author is questioning the validity of the jeebus talk and prayin’ stuff. Before that, I am assured “a reasonable percentage of the total funds” before tossing the remainder into the evangelical “Give that kid a sammich” TV spots with the fat-bellied african kids.That’s the hook, folks. They just want me to bite.
Yes, this note was just the teaser…the part where they jerk the rug out from under the recipient of the email (in this case, me) comes later after they have had a chance to lull the target into a false sense of trust.
What strikes me about this message is not that thousands of bible thumping US citizens will fall for this crap, it’s that scammers in Africa know this. They are preying on the weakness that is religious adherence to extort money from us – or rather from technophobes and science-phobes that make up the large proportion of the American Conservative electorate who will fall for this. I wonder where it makes more sense – should the religious suckers’ money be better in the pockets of Nigerian scammers or in the coffers of churches. I’m leaning towards the scammers.