Van E. Harl

DEAREST IN CHRIST – LET ME HOLD YOUR WALLET

Whilst still on active duty in the Air Force, I joined an international organization called the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). It is a professional group for people who work in law enforcement and the security business. You will find as ASIS members senior police officers from federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as directors of security for many of the major corporations in the country. They have an annual convention that draws in security professionals from around the world. But they also put out a publication every year which lists the members, their addresses, and their e-mail addresses.

This is where the Nigerians enter the picture. When I first joined most people did not have e-mail addresses, so the problem started with letters. Nigerian scam artists would go through the ASIS list of members and send out letters that were just too good to be true. Many of these letters would start with “Dearest in Christ”, to be followed with, “have I got a deal for you.”

One example was “I am Mr. Limbonni; my father stole $30 million from the Nigerian government before he died. Can you help me get this money out of Nigeria--if you can I will give you twenty percent?”

Wow, someone wants to give me $6 million just to help them move some paper money. Sign me up and where do I go to collect my share? I would get a couple of letters a month offering these scams and what was funny was they all basically sounded the same. They would change the names and the dollar amount but even the format they used in the letters were all the same. As if every Nigerian who wanted to scam a person in the west, signed up for the same scam training class held in a grass hut.

Then when the internet got big the mailed letters stopped and the e-mail started. At first it was one or two a month but now I get a scam e-mail almost every day. This people pulled the names and e-mail addresses from the ASIS publication and then shot gunned out letters (again too good to be true) to almost all the members. But it is not just ASIS: the Nigerians use professional publications from around the world. I am in the Air Force Security Police Association and I know that some of my scam e-mails have resulted from Nigerians pulling my information from that organization.

If you get one of the letters the first thing you have to ask yourself is why me? If a person has access to $30 million why do they need little old me to help get the money out of an African Bank, where it was wrongfully placed after it was stolen by a family member of the guy who is contacting you. You cannot cheat an honest person, but it is believed in the criminal justice world that there is a little larceny in everyone’s heart.

You see a $20 bill lying on the ground, are you really worried about who dropped it. Does it go through you mind perhaps that person’s children may not eat tonight because he lost his money? Not really, you just want to be the person who picks up the $20 bill first. This is what the Nigerians are hoping for.

By the way the scam has moved into many other African nations. Also I get scam e-mails from Nigerians who live in England. Nigeria is an oil rich country but given the usual strong-man-in-charge African politics, the average Nigerian citizen lives in poverty and for the most part feels the west has caused this problem for them. Consequently they have little remorse about scamming the west. They love taking the British for a ride. Last year alone they scammed the Brits for approximately $661,500,000 (go to www.scambusters.org).

I believe it was P.T. Barnum who stated “a sucker was born every minute.” If it is illegal and you get involved with the Nigerians you are going to lose. If it is illegal and you know it up front and you get involved with the Nigerians you deserve to lose. I typed in “Nigerian Scams” on line and got back almost a million hits. There are African nations that have special offices set up within their law enforcement units just to try to combat Nigerian scams. Nobody is going to give you millions of dollars for free. If the Nigerian scam artists are involved, hang onto your wallet.