Remember the "money-making" e-mail scams from Nigeria? (Maybe you're still getting them). A group of spam-busterswho call themselves 419eater.com areusing their skills to track these scammers down and have fun at the same time (419 stands of a section of Nigeria's legalcode).
Dan Damon writes in bbcnews.com that millions of people geta version of this letter everyday: "Dear Sir/ Madam, I amfine today and how are you? I hope this letter will find youin the best of health. I am Prince Joe Eboh, the Chairman ofthe 'Contract Award Committee,' of the 'Niger DeltaDevelopment Commission (NDDC),' a subsidiary of the NigerianNational Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
"NDDC was set up by the late Head of State, General SaniAbacha who died on 18th June 1998, to manage the excessrevenue accruing from the sales of Petroleum and its alliedproducts as a domestic increase in the petroleum products todevelop the communities in the Niger Delta Oil producingareas. The estimated annual revenue for 1999 was $45 BillionU.S. Dollars..."
All they're asking for is a few thousand dollars, andmillions could be yours.
A scambuster known as "Mike" says, "I'm sure he's not aprince at all. He contacted me with a standard 419 scam. Itried to turn it around by saying I worked for a church andwe couldn't do any business with people who are not of ourfaith." Mike sent a response in the name of Father HectorBarnett of the Church of the Painted Breast that read: "Dear Sir, I would dearly love to help you. If you everdecide to join our faith then of course I could help youboth with my experience and financial support. I wish youwell in your endeavor my brother. Yours, Father Hector Barnett"
Mike says, "Now I knew the guy would write back and say:'Well, can I join your faith?' and indeed he did."
Here's the letter: "Dear Father Hector, If joining yourfaith is what it takes to help me of course, I am ready tojoin you. I'm from a good Christian family. I will doanything you want me to do in the faith. Don't forget that Ihave to transfer the money to your account as urgently aspossible. Send me your account details. I hope to read yourmail soon. Prince Joe Eboh"
Mike replied: "Our ministry was founded in 1774 by awonderful lady by the name of Betsy Carrington. She spentmany of her first preaching years in Kenya, spreading theholy gospel amongst the local people there. She was thefirst person male or female to promote Christian texts andbeliefs to the Masai warrior tribe.
"The most famous account is when as a test she had to removethe top part of her clothes and paint the top half of herbody and breast with the red Masai war-paint as a gesture offaith and belief to them so that they would accept her andtrust her. She was almost immediately accepted by them andwas one of the most trusted westerners known at that time.
"As a qualification to enter the Holy Church of The Order ofThe Red Breast, all followers must go through the initiationprocedure that Miss Carrington made so famous. I haveattached a photograph of four of our young inductees goingthrough the procedure.
"Please use this picture to enable you to make the samemarking on yourself. I have also attached a small pictureshowing the design in more detail. I look forward towelcoming you into our membership my brother. Father HectorBarnett Financial Development, Holy Church of The Order ofThe Red Breast."
Using software, Mike made up an "initiation" picture, andPrince Joe e-mailed back a photo of himself in the samestate. His next letter read: "Dear Brother Hector, I want tothank the Almighty God himself for the opportunity I have tobe a member of this great church The Holy Church Of ThePainted Breast. I'm looking forward to establishing a branchof the Church here. But I'll like us to finish everythingabout the business proposal, which I sent to you earlier..."
Mike says, "He then tried to hit me for $18,000 forprocessing fees for transferring millions." Mike wrote himback saying that the church had plenty of money, but therewas a withdrawal fee of $80. "I persuaded him to send me the$80, which he did, inside a birthday card, by courier."
Mike wrote back: "This is your good friend Hector Barnett.Please do not be alarmed that I am contacting you from adifferent e-mail address. I will explain what has happened.I have been troubled recently after the death of a dearfriend of mine, Minnie Mowse. She was a very, very dearfriend indeed, and her death affected me greatly and startedto make me question my faith. I have decided to leave thechurch and join a traveling circus."
Prince Joe then began receiving e-mails from another"Reverend" of the Church of the Painted Breast worried aboutthe disappearance of Father Hector and the $18,000 fromchurch funds. But Prince Joe hasn't given up yet, even afterlosing $80. And Mike is trying to capture other "Nigerianprinces" in similar stings.
Why can't scammers spot such an obvious scam? Mike says, "Ithink it operates in much the same way as it does with realvictims. Greed clouds their judgement. The guy obviouslythought he was going to get $18,000 so easily, he wasblinded by his own greed. Which is what happens to those whofall for the 419 scams; they just see all these millions."
419eater.com sends their "profits" to charity and all theire-mail exchanges with scammers to Nigerian police and to theFBI, but so far they've gotten no response from them.
Spam is just another example of thePowerof the Word. On this week'sDreamland,learn how the four Hebrew letters in the lost name of Godhold the key that unlocks the meaning behind astrologicalsymbolism, the Tarot and the Book of Revelation.
For subscribers, John de Salvo continues his phenomenalpyramid interview with a detailed discussion of the work ofelectronics engineer Joe Parr, who has made some of the keyhyperspace-related discoveries aboutpyramids.
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