Nigerian Email Scammers Go Postal

What happens when the ubiquity of Nigerian email scams gets to the point when even trusting myopic grannies start wildly flipping the double deuce at the screen when they see yet another “URGENT ASSISTANCE FROM MR. KOBE UBUNTU” email in their inbox? They bring it down a notch on the luddite ladder:

Jeff’s full email and another pic after the jump.

Maybe this is old news for you hip folks at the consumerist, and its not really a consumer-getting-the-shaft story, but on Friday at work I received (as my brother aptly named it) the ‘Nigerian snail-mail scam’. In short, I received by postal mail an all-caps form-letter from a BANGA IDRIS who is an Angolan refugee in S. Africa who needs some help getting millions of dollars out of an african bank. Its like an old-school twist on spam e-mail.

I assume he (or she?) found my office address at the university on my professional web-site.

Have attached a couple of pictures taken with my camera phone… its hard to see, but the stamps are S. African.

What the hell? It’s news to us. This doesn’t make a lick of sense: email’s cheap, postage isn’t. You can send out a million emails for pennies; on the other hand, the number of letters you’d have to send out to make this scam work would soak up any proft you’d make off of the lone sucker. What’s next? Singing candygram?

Anyone have any ideas? Or is this just the stupidest Nigerian scammer ever?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Doug Nelson says:

    This just went from inbox annoyance to a federal offense. Report it to your local postmaster.

  2. Jesse in Japan says:

    Maybe they heard about that university professor who gave several million dollars to Nigerians.

  3. Melsky says:

    Maybe the scammers got a lot of free stamps somehow.

    This scam was done before email too. A guy at my highschool got conned by a guy who said he was from South Africa and had inherited a lot of money that he couldn’t take back due to aparthied because he was black and they would confiscate it. He wanted to give my friend the money to give to a charity but my friend had to prove that he already had money by going to a bank and withdrawing a bunch of it as a good faith gesture and then they would put the money together. When my friend got home with his bag o’cash it was carefully cut up newspaper the size of dollar bills.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    mactbone writes:

    “I remember when I started getting the Nigerian e-mails I said something to my familyand they told me that this scam was going around by snail-mail in the 70s or 80s. So, apparently somebody didn’t get the message that everyone’s using e-mail now or they’ve decided to go back to their roots.”

  5. CorporationsAreAwesome says:

    I see it going something like this:

    “You sir, just committed a federal offense. After we’re done with you, you will never scam another person ever again.”

    “Big deal, I live in South Africa.”

  6. Das Ubergeek says:

    Or like this:

    Postmaster: “You have committed mail fraud, a federal offence in the U.S.”
    Spammer: “…”
    Postmaster: “You could go to jail for this, or be banned from the U.S. for ten years.”
    Spammer: “…”
    Postmaster: “And we’ll get right on it as soon as we find you.”
    Spammer: “…”

    It’s not like e-mail where you have convenient headers to help you and you can shut down one particular IP block if needed; you’re not shutting down a post office in South Africa, and good luck convincing the South Africans to participate in a sting to catch the guy doing the mailing.

  7. Ben Popken says:

    Michael writes:

    “I remember well getting an air-mailed Nigerian scam letter at my office in the early 1990s. “

  8. dalton says:

    They also used to do it via fax.

    The amazing thing is that these scammers make so much money, because people are so damn greedy, that they can afford to use snail mail. I hear that some of these guys pull in millions per year.

  9. Mauvaise says:

    I worked for a property managment company in the early 90’s and I remember getting this type of scam letter in the mail as well. Complete with stamps from the suppposed country of origin. I think we reported it to the post office, but obviously nothing was done about it. Even back then it just reeked of “scam”. I’ve got to wonder about the people that actually fall for it. Especially now.

  10. Smoking Pope says:

    They switched to snail mail after the dixie cup with string scam fared so poorly.