Remember the Nigerian scams?
I remember years ago when I was still living in Hong Kong, I used to get mail from Nigeria offering to share millions of dollars if I sent my bank account number and a blank signed copy of my company invoice. Since then this entrepreneural spirit seems to have spread to other countries and one often gets emails from South Africa, the UK, Saudi Arabia and a host of other countries offering to share millions of dollars if bank details are provided. Sometimes it is a lottery that you have supposedly won. Of course most of us delete these immediately but some have been known to have fallen victims to these scams.
I received a message a few weeks ago advising me that I had won the Virgin Atlantic Airways lottery worth GBP 500,000. Since all it asked for was my office address and phone number so that the money could be sent to me, I was tempted into sending a response (hey who doesn’t need GBP 500,000). I thought I would receive another mail asking me for my account number and a blank signed invoice. That never happened so I promptly forgot about the whole thing – until last week.
When I returned from Delhi I received a message that someone by the name of Jackson had called me. It was a Mobilink number that he had left for me to return his call. I didn’t get round to calling him because of all the other matters that required my attention that day. So in the evening I got another call from Jackson. He sounded like a foreigner (had a strange accent that I couldn’t quite put my finger on). Anyway, he asked how my trip had been, then told me that my consignment had arrived. I asked “What consignment?” He jogged my memory by mentioning the lottery and said that he had flown into Islamabad to deliver the consignment to me. He then asked when I could fly to Islamabad. I told him I lived in Karachi and why couldn’t the consignment be sent to me here. He said it could but I would have to pay clearing charges. I asked what the clearing charges were for – it isn’t as if the money would have been shipped in a crate! It must have come through a bank or exchange company. He said these were bank clearing charges. I asked him how much and he said $2,000. Now I knew that he was taking me for a ride so I told him “That’s fine – you clear it and send me the money and an invoice and I will pay you – or better still just deduct it from the GBP 500,000”. He responded that this was not the correct procedure and that I would have to send the US$2,000 first before the winnings could be sent to me. I told him where to go and hung up. Do you think I gave up too easy? Have I lost a large bundle of money? Naaaah! I think I saved US$2,000.
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