Once upon a time, I was checking my e-mail and found this in my in-box:

SIR,

After several attempts to reach you by post without being able to do so I chose this medium to communicate with you. Though this may not be sufficiently confidential going by the contents of my letter I feel that it is better than not communicating at all.

My name is Donald Okon the chief accountant of the federal Ministry of sports and Youth development in Nigeria. As the chief accountant I am Directly responsible for the day to day management of the account books of the ministry and in the process reporting to the Late Minister of Sports Mr. Ishaya Mark Aku who died in a Plane crash on his way back from an official assignment. 

When Nigeria qualified for the on going Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup at the same time Nigeria won the hosting rights for the 2003 All African Games, the Presidency requested him to give a budgetary Estimate of the amount of money that will be needed to prepare the National Football team for the competition and also to build 5 international standard sports / games village for the competition, the Late Minister informed me of this, and we agreed to up the bill by an excess of $ 15.5 M USD. We entered into a separate agreement with the contractors that they will release this amount into a Bank Account belonging to us immediately the contract agreement is consummated. The late Minister had an offshore account in Switzerland, which we intended to use but unfortunately he is dead and the contractors are willing to still abide by our earlier agreement and have asked me to furnish them with the Bank account for the remittance. I do not have any Bank Account that could be used for this purpose that is why I am contacting you. 

I am not in a position to offer you any particular percentage of the total sum of $15.5M for your services through this medium. That issue will be better discussed when you have indicated a willingness to participate in this transaction. 

Our major concern now is to solicit your unalloyed support and show of honesty to accept whatever percentage we mutually agree that you will get and release the balance to us. 

Please send your reply to:donaldokon1@rediffmail.com

And include your phone and fax numbers so that I can call you for a discussion of the details.

In the unlikely event that you are not interested please have the simple courtesy of informing me within 48hours so that I can look for another person because time is of the essence in this transaction.

Thank you and God Bless

Dr Donald Okon

now, I knew this was a scam and that there was no money and that they would take me for every penny I had. I thought it would be fun to reply anyway:

Dear Dr Oken

I am pleased you have managed to get in touch with me. Sorry that the post system doesn't seem to work, please let me know which address you were trying and I will sort things out (I assume you can provide this information).

I am especially greedy so if you let me know how to help you take advantage of this money, I will be delighted.

Philedelphius Parker

I don't think I've hidden my true intentions in this mail. Quite frankly I thought that this would be the end of it. But lo! in my mailbox the next day was:

Dear Mr Parker,

This may turn out to be the happiest day of life for being eventually able to reach you and get a response from you.I thank almighty God for making my dreams come through eventually.#

I cannot wait to call you so that we can discuss further details on phone.

Pls provide me with a phone number immediately.Or do you wish to call me?

Anyway,my number is 234-802-3414594.

if you cannot call no prpblems just give me your number and i will call you.

Take care and God Bless.

Donald Okon

"Happiest day of my life" ? Donald really should get out more. Still, it seemed a shame to disappoint him, especially with God blessing me and all. I had a feeling that this was just a standard letter so I provided a non-standard response:

Dr Oken

I am a busy man and not easy to contact by telephone as you would need to use a mobile. Because of the time difference between the UK and Nigeria it would be inconvenient for me to call you. I also think my telephone is being tapped by British Intellegence so to keep the details of this transaction secure I would prefer to work via e-mail which I can pick up at different locations.

Please let me know what we need to dicsuss and I will see how I can assist.

P

If you really do believe that British Intelligence are bugging my 'phone, please send me 5 in cash and I'll send you special magic dust that has life enhancing properties. Everyone else please read on:

Dear Mr.Parker

This is to acknowledge the receipt of your last email.First I must take you back to the first email that I sent you. it is important that you go through it well so that there will be no need to go over it in detail. I will assume that you understand the origin of the money as I have stated in the first email. That taken, I will only explain the step-by-step procedure that is already in place to actualize, not only the transfer of the funds into your account, but also the way to do it in order to avoid offending any law.

First ,there must be a legal basis for you to have earned the sum of $15.5M in Nigeria. we have to justify thatby following the law as it relates to contracts award, execution and payment in Nigeria so that when the money is transferred into your account we can all sleep well and will not be afraid of any problems from the authorities. Therefore we have put modalities in place to:

1.Have the Ministry of finance award you a contract for the supply of sporting equipment to the 31 sports federations in Nigeria. in readiness for the 2003 all African Games taking place in Nigeria. This contract will be valued at $15.5M

2.We will also provide evidence and approval from the contract award committee of the Ministry of which I am a member stating that such contract have been executed by you and a certificate of JOB completion issued in your name.

3.We will have your company incorporated in Nigeria .Normally ,before you qualify to do a contract you must have a corporate legal entity in existence. The incorporation of your company will take care of that.

The above three documents Viz:the contract agreement, certificate of contract legality and JOB completion and also certificate of incorporation will be acquired and sent to you next week before the transfer will be made into your account so that whenever the need arises you can defend the source of the money.In order for me to do all the above I need to have the following information from you;

a. Your Full name and Address

b. Phone and fax numbersc .

Your bank name and address, account number, swift code etc.

Note that you can open an entirely new Bank account for this purpose or present an existing one. Whichever is convenient and readily available.

The above details and the documents will be forwarded to the foreign operations department of the central bank of Nigeria with an instruction from the contract tenders Board which I am a member instructing them to remit the amount to your account. the Ministry of Sports and youth development has in its account with the Central Bank of Nigeria $15.5M and we have already informed the Bank that the money belongs to a contractor whose detailed bank information for the transfer we told them we are still expecting.

We are very much praying that you will give u every support needed to actualize this transaction and treat us with all honesty and release our share to us when the money comes into your account. We will be traveling to meet with you in the UK to share the funds and use our share to invest in your country because we cannot bring back the money here.

Pls indicate in your reply how much in terms of percentage do you want from the Total amount for your assistance. This issue should be agreed now before we move ahead to avoid any disagreement when we arrive the UK to share the funds.

There is need for us to exchange identities before we meet. I can send you my international passport pages via fax and I also expect you to do the same.

Pls try as much as you can to keep in touch constantly as I have envisaged that within 7Banking days we can finish this transaction.

Respond immediately.

Regards and God Bless

Donald Okon

Ahh yes, now we have cut to the chase. Please send me all your bank details. Amazingly, some people are stupid enough to do this. If you are one of those people, please see my offer above for the magic dust. You can have a whole Hoover bag full of it for the bulk price of 50. You will be surprised to see no bank details in my next mail:

Dr Oken

You seem to have organised this heist down to very fine detail. I am confused by your repeated term "we" as in " We will be traveling to meet with you in the UK". How many people am I dealing with here ? I have had run ins with the Mafia with my operations in Italy and am not keen to repeat the experience. This need to be a deal between you and me. No others. Look on the bright side, this means we both get a bigger cut of the loot.

I know this is just getting silly, but then why not ?

Mr Parker,

To pull a deal of this magnitude in Nigeria one other person at least must be involved particularly,as in this case,when a large Government parastatal is concerned.

There are baasically Three of us in the know but i am the only active person as the two others are dormant.Whatever i tell them they take.They will never get to communicate with you and unless i wish to change my mind only one will be travelling with me to meet you.However,if you want to meet only me i can do away with them at that stage.This is not a problem for me.

Mr Parker,there is nothing to worry about i am in total control of everything here.

send me all needed details and let me proceed.

Regards,

Donald Okon

So I've got him promising to "do away with" his partners in crime ? Sounds good to me. Trouble is that I was getting tired of this game. It's a bit like dangling wool for a kitten - fun to start with as he plays pointlessly - but eventually your arm aches. Time to scare him I thought:

Donald

Sorry I didn't mail you yesterday, I have been experiencing a little legal trouble. However this has now been resolved so I can concentrate on our business.

Due to the sums involved I've decided to come to Nigeria to see you. I will be bringing all my details includeing bank accounts which I have set up for the express purpose of completing this transaction.

I will be travelling on flight BA0302 on Wednesday 11th July (next week). I will arrive at 3.45PM local time. My hotel accomodation is the Sheraton Hotel, 30 Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Lagos. I suggest we arrange to meet there as I understand from thier booking clerk that the hotel bar is ideal for small business meetings where the guests do not wish to be disturbed. I expect we can conclude our transaction very quickly, probably in 24 hours. Please let me know how you can be contacted once I arrive.

I suggest that you return to the UK with me after we have finished our business. I am happy to stay on for a few days and experience the delights of your country if this is required. On arrival in UK, A local estate agent friend has some properties you may be interested in. Property is an excellent invetment in the UK and can be rented out for a lucrative return, the monies being paid into any bank account. Ideal for private transfer. I suggest you base the account on the Isle-of-Man for extra security.

If you require any assistance in doing away with your old collegues, I may have some friends who can help. Please let me know.

Isn't the Internet great ? You can look up genuine flight numbers and hotel details and everything !

Mr Parker,

First concerning my local colleagues,it will be difficult to do away with them because they are financing this project.This is why i involved them in the first place.If you know that you can take over the finances then we can arrange a better sharing manner that will accomodate only the interest of two of us.Aside from this let me know how you want the sharing done.

Concerning your proposed visit to Nigeria,i am delighted but how were you able to get a visa so easily without an invitation from me which is the normal procedure.

I will be looking forward to meeting with you this week but we have to be in phone communication before you arrive and i have to personally meet you at the airport on arrival and not you contacting me when you have arrived.It is not a formal way of doing business except you are not coming particularly for me.

So send me more details of your schedule and call me on 234-802-3414594 on Monday morning so that we can talk.

Regards,

Donald Okon

Oh, Donald has chickened out of killing off his partners in crime. Strange he is worried about the formal way of doing these things. I assume that stealing money from the Government IS the formal way then.

Dear Mr. Philip Parker,

My name is Gani Abubakar Esq,Attorney and solicitor of the supreme court of Nigeria.

I have been contacted by your representative in respect to the aforementioned subject and your signing the vital fund release documents of the central bank of Nigeria to facilitate the release of the funds to the tune of USD15.5 Million into your nominated bank account.

For us to proceed with the above subject at the same time your indicating your interest to come to Lagos-Nigeria to perform the aforesaid representation in the premises of the Central Bank of Nigeria at the same time your agent having furnished me with your confirmed itinery and hotel reservation to be in Nigeria on wednesday the 10th 0f July 2002.

I wish to inform that i will be at the airport to personally receiev you upon your arrival.

As per your hotel reservation,this is not convinient as all activities will be taking place in the Lagos Island  as the bank is also located in the Lagos Island it will be most appropriate and convinient that you stay in a hotel in the Lagos Island.

The Sheraton is located in the Lagos Mainland,and this will not be convinient as it will require our travelling a long distance and with the eppileptic  traffic situation in Lagos,the mainland is normally a no go area during the day time.

I will therefore request that upon your arrival,i will drive you to a hotel in the Lagos Island,possibly the Federal Palce Hotel or The Diplomat ,all in the Lagos Island.

Furthermore,i have made enquires at the bank and have been informed of the payment of a mandatory siging fee payable to the bank before the signing of the fund release documents in the bank.

This amount represents 0.1% of the total contract amount being USD15,500 which will be paid in cash by you as such you have to make arrangement to come with this in cash form.

You will also be required to pay in the Federal High Court of Justice USD6,500 representing cour charges for the notarisation and stamping of the Affidavit of Claim and Stamping of your bank account details to give it the legal power it will desrve to make it a legal instrument.

All this will amount to USDUSD22,000 which you should have with you in cash form as you ability to perform the siging procedure in the bank rests on your payment of this fees.

Finally,i will request you call me on my direct telephone number 234-1-7752505 as it is important that we speak prior to your arrival and upon your receipt of this message.

I await your kind response.

Thanking you for your unalloyed cooperation,
Yours faithfully,
Gani Abubakar Esq.

Hello, what have we here ? A new player in this game and a lawyer to boot ? Well that proves it's a scam if there is a lawyer involved. Impressive that the hotel has been checked - I just got it off the web. Time to throw the rattle from the pram and get these two out of my in-box:

Donald/Gani

Now I see the plan. You expect me to turn up with 22,000USD for which I can expect what ? Lots of red tape ?

Or perhaps there is another option, perhaps this is only the first stage of
the process. Perhaps there will be many other payments required ? Could it
be that many things will go wrong along the way ?

Dr Oken, could you be the Dr Okon mentioned in the letter on this web page ?

http://www.snopes2.com/inboxer/scams/nigeria.htm

Or perhaps your letter looks a lot like the one on this web page ?

http://www.scambusters.org/Scambusters11.html

either way I suspect neither of you are telling me the truth. My visit to Nigeria is CANCELLED.

P Parker

But even this doesn't seem to put them off:

Mr Parker,

I am aware of this propaganda machinery put in place by the Nigerian Government just to stem the tide of transfer of Millions of Dollars by top Government officials in Nigeria.The Government Knows that without the assistance of foreigners like you we will not be able to transfer these funds out that is why they give you the impression that it is a scam.Wht did they not mention also the sucess achieved by the Late Nigerian Military Ruler Gen.SANNI ABACHA in transfering billions of dollars out of Nigeria.Till today the government is still trying to retrieve such funds stached away in swiss and other european Banks.This is what they want to prevent so they give you the impression that you will be duped in the process.

Mr Parker do not be discouraged by all this.It is a good thing that you are coming to Nigeria personally,you are not sending any money to us without seeing us in person.You will see everything yourself at the CEntral Bank of Nigeria and be convinced before you part with any single money.every thing will be done officially and you will be satisfied and from here you will call your Bank and confirm the money in your account before you do anything.

This is no scam and you will apologise to me when you come and see everything to be above board.Give it a chance and you will not regret this.

Mr gani is a reputable Lawyer here and i had to contract him to do everything for us.He is not even aware that me and you are doing a deal.To him you are a contractor and that is all.so do not let him know the truth about what we are doing when you contact him back.This is my only chance to make money and it is all in your hands.

Do not cancel your trip as i am looking forward to meeting you tomorrow.

I can fax you pages of my international passport as proof of my identity

Regards,

Donald Okon

I wish I had a fax machine as the passport would have been fun. Still, if you DO go (and if this sounds tempting, there is a limited supply of the magic dust referred to earlier - buy now to avoid disappointment) you are mugged at the airport, loose your passport and the money and then can't get out of the country. But there are of course three players of the game now so just for good measure:

Dear Mr. Philip Parker,

In have recieved your mail.

Well i do not understand the tone or details of your message,but i can assure you that i was only doing my job as regrad the brief which i was given by your representative,and if you are not ready to claim your funds by way of coming to Nigeria to perform the the signig procedure,then that is your headache and i should not have any course to worry,afterall the funds belong to you and not me.

I will therefore direct that if you need any clarifications in respect to the aforesaid payment,you should contact with Dr. Okon with a view of sorting out the ambiguities.

Thanking you for your cooperation,

Yours faithfully,

Gani Abubakar Esq.

And with that they were gone.

Notes: These letters are genuine and were sent and received in July this 2002. This is a common scam, the perpetrators spend days in Nigerian Internet cafes sending these mails in an attempt to sucker stupid people into sending cash. To be honest if everyone played with them like I did they'd probably give up since it wouldn't be worth the time. The magic life affirming dust has been delivered to your house and can be found in the bag of your vacuum cleaner, placed there using alien technology that I can reveal no details of. You now owe me 5. Please send cash.