It seems like everyone has their own ‘African scammer’ story to tell even if it’s as simple as “yep, I’ve seen a few of those emails roll in, too. I just spam them”. I have one that’s a little bit more involved.
We have this 1st generation iPod touch that we’re trying to sell. We listed it on Craigslist for $50 and have gotten the standard flow of people that ask questions about it, but don’t pull the trigger on buying it. One guy asked me if it was still available and I let him know that 2 people were ahead of him, but it hasn’t been sold just yet. He then threw out an offer of $140. Wait, what? You did read this right? It’s a 1st Generation – I mean, you can’t even run apps on this thing. I clarified with him and he said didn’t matter – still wanted to make the deal. OK, as long as I see the money, we’re good and I won’t mention how much of a sucker I think you are.
So, as it plays out, he offers to pay through Paypal or Western Union. We recently got burned on Paypal/Ebay policies, so I told him Western Union. Gave him applicable info and waited for the transaction. He asked for a tracking number. I told him I would ship it and give him a tracking number when the funds are available. I received a pretty authentic-looking email with a control number on it, but the last 4 digits were asterisked out. I asked him for the complete control number or his phone number so I could verify funds and he immediately went on the defensive, saying “I’m not trying to scam you”. I calmly explained that neither one of us know each other and as it states in the Western Union email, the funds would be released upon receipt of a tracking number – so that shows that he is trying to protect his own interest and that is simply what I am trying to do. I also said I needed his address to ship the item. He sent me his number, a control number and an address in
…wait for it…
Nigeria. Now it was all making sense. The control number he sent didn’t match a single digit on the one in the email. We started to notice the plethora of grammatical errors in the email, also. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and looked it up anyway. No transaction could be verified with Western Union using the control number or his phone number. I basically told him he has one more chance to send the money or the deal is off because I’m thoroughly convinced at this point that he’s a scammer. I didn’t hear from him again.
So, now the iPod is for sale on eBay. >>>Here’s the listing<<< if anyone is interested.
But Bryan, what does this have to do with fax machines and thrift stores?
Well, as some of you know, Sara & I (and the kids, as a matter of fact), enjoy thrifting every once in awhile. When we’re at the thrift stores, we see such crazy things for sale that are pretty laughable. I mean, some of these things are borderline obsolete – like old school fax machines. I brought up the point that maybe some of these countries could do better for themselves if our country donated all of the items that don’t sell in the thrift stores. Maybe Eric Williams (the fake name he gave) in Nigeria wouldn’t be so hard pressed to try and scam someone if he had learned a basis for doing real business.
So, we donate a bunch of fax machines to some 3rd world country named Ibujibu or some shit like that, right? These people, knowing how gullible Americans with money can be, can package up a bunch of rocks and sell them as ‘shaman blessed stones of protection’. Unethical – maybe, but not illegal. Frankly, if it makes someone feel like carrying that dumb rock around is helping them have a better day, then no harm, no foul and it’s a good purchase. So the Ibujibis use the phone on the machine to solicit businesses that may want to sell items like that and they use the fax machine to send and receive ordering information. Within a year, their village is fat and happy and stepping into the age of commerce. No more flies in their eyes and no more grumbling bellies.
Maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s a start. Not only would they be doing real, legitimate business, but then I wouldn’t automatically assume that every contact from Nigeria is a criminal. Because guess what, fake ass Eric Williams – you perpetuate the image of your country. Now fuck off and go find real work. I’m no sucker to your bullshit.