This particular email caught my eye immediately, coming as it did from the Honourable Doctor Goodluck Douglas Grayham - an MD and parliamentarian, I immediately surmised, one with parents fairly bursting with optimism for their son's future. My comments are in italics...
From: Hon. (Dr.) GOODLUCK DOUGLAS GRAYHAM. [mailto:REDACTED BUT HILARIOUS EMAIL ADDRESS]
Sent: November 3, 2010 2:18 AM
The next time I write an email to a stranger, I'm going to write "Earl..!!!!!!" in the subject line. Interestingly, the current President of Nigeria is also named Goodluck, surely a coincidence...
Good day and thanks, It is understandable that you might be a little bit apprehensive because you do not know me, (a little bit?) Please forgive this unusual manner to contact you, but this particular letter/email is of exceptional and very private in nature. I am Hon (Dr.) GOODLUCK D. GRAYHAM, a 55 years old International Financial Consultant. (Already my mental image of the man is changing, from a white lab coat to a dark grey business suit. Somehow gold teeth have entered the picture.)
I am writing you about A Former African President who is one of my numerous VIP and Influential Clients that came to engage in Private Banking Services, This late President had a financial portfolio of $185m and this I help turned over in the Capital Markets. (When I Write, I always do my Best to Ensure that I Randomly Capitalize words.)
Since this original owner listed no next of kin in his bio-data form, (Bio-data form? Sounds very official. And Star Trekkian. I am intrigued.) my proposition is this, I am prepared to place you in a position to instruct my Bank to release the all/part of the deposits with its accured interest to you as the closest surviving relation. (I'm related to a former African president? Wicked.)
I sourced your profile from a Human Resources Profile Database in the Internet. I went through your profile and was highly impressed and satisfied. (President of the University of Alberta Star Trek Club, #3 geekiest person on the Internet (2002), comic book trivia expert...no wonder he's impressed.) You are to advise me on the Best Investment in your country as well as providing the feasibility study, Labour Cost, Construction Cost, Taxes, Income Per Capital Gross etc. (Best investment: Earl's Pop Culture Museum and Minstrel Show. Labour Cost: Six Million Dollars, man. Taxes: not if we hire good accountants. Income Per Capital Gross etc.: I'm not sure how big a "Capital Gross" is, but I'll bet it's somewhere between fifteen kiloquads and two quatloos.)
I will be waiting for your urgent response so as to proceed. If you find yourself able to work with me, contact me through these email accounts below. Meanwhile, I have worked out the strategies and technicalities where the funds can be claimed in any of our 7 clearing houses without any hitch. Our sharing ratio will be 50-50 while expenses shall be incurred as per each capability during the process of transaction. (From each according to his ability, to each 50 percent. Sounds fair...although why do I have the sneaking suspicion that I'd be footing most of the bill in this particular partnership?)
In case you are interested; please email me your direct telephone number for discussion of this deal in further details. (Oh, straight away!) If you give me positive signals, I will initiate the process towards conclusion. Best Regards.
Hon. (Dr.) GOODLUCK DOUGLAS GRAYHAM.
(+PHONE NUMBER REDACTED)
(1). This e-mail contains information which may be protected by Law from disclosure and is intended only for the use of the addressee(s) of this e-mail. Other than the addressee (s) of this e-mail, reading, copying or distributing this email is prohibited. (I'm sure you won't mind me posting it on my blog, though...) If you have received this email in error, please contact the sender immediately.
(2). There is absolutely going to be a great doubt and distrust in your heart in respect of this email, coupled with the fact that, so many miscreants have taken possession of the Internet to facilitate their nefarious deeds, thereby making it extremely difficult for genuine and legitimate business class persons to get attention and recognition. There is no way for me to know whether I will be properly understood, but it is my duty to write and reach out to you. (I think I understand you pretty clearly, Goodluck.)
(3). Irrespective of similar mails or news of this nature, I would like to let you know that this request is not a fraud or scam, but real. I never ask you for anything more than your Bank Coordinates & Phone Numbers, this is to ensure your security and non involvement in cases of identity theft or Scam. (Nothing more than my bank coordinates and phone numbers, which of course can be used to discover everything else about me...some guarantee!)
Here endeth the letter, and my mockery.
Nigerian advance fee fraud emails always make me sad. On the one hand, these scam artists have successfully bilked people - many of them on fixed incomes - out of millions of dollars. On the other, they tarnish the reputation on an entire nation, one already suffering from poverty, disease, environmental devastation thanks to exploitative resource extraction, crime, corruption, lack of infrastructure and a host of other serious problems. It's not difficult to see why some Nigerians turn to fraud schemes; those of us lucky enough to live in rich countries can't imagine the level of desperation fostered by such a lack of opportunity. Of course scam artists are culpable for their actions, but if there are no excuses, there are at least understandable reasons for their acts.
It's easy to be pessimistic about Africa's future given the lengths to which people are driven, but there is hope. Nigeria is home to one of the United Nations' twelve Millennium Villages; each village serves as an example of how the UN's Millennium Development Goals can be met by African citizens. If you need a dash of hope, tempered with a dose of realistic short-term expectations, I encourage you to read the links.
With its vast natural resources and population, remarkable history and cultural diversity, Africa will one day free itself from poverty and disease. I look forward to a day when email scams will be a joke not just to us, but to Nigerians, who will have long grown past the need for them.