The FBI scam
There's a new spam scam hitting inboxes....
The imagination of spammer scammers never ceases to fascinate me.
And just when I thought senders of “Nigerian 419” letters had run out of dictators' widows who just so happened to have the odd $35m or so in a locked and secret bank account which needed my (and only my) signature to turn the key, then they come up with a whole new narrative.
So goodbye widows, and goodbye retired bank managers. Welcome instead the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Yes, the Feds, the G-Men who busted Al Capone, wrote to a lovemoney.com reader (who kindly passed it on) offering him $4.1m.
The name at the top of the email was Keith L Bennett, Assistant Director, Inspection Division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
And bless their little swindling socks, Bennett (and title) is for real as is the FBI address in Washington - the FBI put out a press release on his promotion to his post late last summer. Bennett has had an illustrious career spanning drug enforcement, white-collar crime and counter-terrorism.
In the email, it says: “I am special Agent Keith L. Bennett from the federal bureau of investigation (FBI) Inspection Division. We have just intercepted and confiscated two (2) trunk boxes at JFK airport in New York, and are on the verge of moving it to our Bureau Head Quarters.”
Leaving aside the usual grammatical errors, this sound more like a job for US Customs than for the Feds.
Now Bennett is taking no chances – the boxes could be booby trapped.
So he “scanned the said boxes, and have found it to contain a total sum of USD4.1M and also backup document which bears your name as the receiver of the money contained in the boxes. Investigations carried out on the diplomat who accompanied the boxes into the United States has it that he was to deliver these funds to your residence as your contract/inheritance payment which was due you from the office of Finance Minister of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
Finally, our Nigerian friends appear. Note how modest they are. They used to claim that $35m to $50m was waiting, so this is just pocket money. Therefore it must be true.
It then gets a little confused. Having scanned the boxes ( a process that cannot come up with the value of the banknotes or the contents of documents assuming they existed), they must then have opened them.
The letter says: “We cross-checked all legal documentation in the boxes, and were about to release the consignment to the diplomat, when we found out that the boxes is lacking one very important documentation which as a result, the boxes have been confiscated until the required document is provided.”
So far, the Feds at the airport find loads of dollar bills. They don't ask basic questions like why is it there and is this money laundering. Instead, they take on the role of the US Mail and try to reunite the boxes with the intended recipient. Or so you are intended to believe.
Now it seems “section 229 subsection 31 of the 1991 constitution on release of unclaimed consignment payment” kicks in. I am confused as to which constitution has rules about parcel delivery but Bennett tells the recipient must contact him “for direction on how to procure this certificate, so that your consignment can be legally cleared and okay for delivery to you.” He kindly gave 72 hours to do this.
Don't forget, dealing with the FBI is confidential, he warns. “Also, you must not contact any other bank for any payment, because your payment is here in care of our storage vault team and will be released to you once you follow my directions.”
Now I may be quibbling here but the email address does not come from Bennett or the Bureau but someone called “healing” using a Japanese server.
Three years ago, another Nigerian 419 letter (so called after the section of the Nigerian criminal law code which outlaws these scams) was apparently signed by Bennett's predecessor, Robert S. Mueller.
Mueller's letter was more generous. In return for my help, it offered a share of $10.1m. Now that's what I call scamming and spamming.