“Good Grammar and Spelling Skills”
Being a former dedicated English teacher has its advantages. I can use my grammar, spelling, punctuation and logic skills to instantly detect Internet scams advanced by devious unscrupulous scoundrels. Con artists on the net’ are so intent and thorough in organizing their reprehensible plans that in their mania they overlook simple basic communication rules. Honest business people understand that impeccable English is always necessary to make a good first impression; scamsters haven’t yet mastered middle school level language arts.
Here are a few examples to illustrate exactly what I mean by the need to possess better than average grammar and spelling tools. Several weeks ago I received an “Urgent Confedential Request” from one Andrew Chidi, whose name appeared as Anyanwu Agu on his e-mail address bar. I immediately became suspicious when someone with a great name such as Andrew Chidi would coincidentally masquerade with a more complex e-mail name Anyanwu Agu. Besides not knowing how to spell the word “confidential,” the e-mail solicitor stated that he was the Director of the Foreign Remittance Department of Du Banque Lome-Togo of West Africa, where apparently the need for good communications’ skills is not too important.
I know for a fact that anyone who knows how to spell “Remittance” should easily know the simpler syllable construction “confidential.” I automatically reckoned that a definite problem existed when Andrew Chidi’s heading had the false-but-creative spelling designation “Audeting and Accoting Unit.” Any imbecile with a decrepit-looking dollar paperback English Dictionary could easily research the words “Auditing and Accounting.” Furthermore good old lazy Andrew found out about John Wiessner “as a relaible person” by reading about me in a “West African Chamber of Commerce Business Directory.” Unfortunately (for Andrew’s sake) I was not impressed with the phony flattery represented in the suspect e-mail.
Now if that were the Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets’ Business Directory instead of the West African Chamber of Commerce Business Directory being cited, I would have placed more credence in Andrew Chidi’s awkward and grammatically flawed letter of introduction. The Banque Lome-Togo sounded more like the Bank of Money To Go (from MY pocket).
Andrew’s form letter had a fairly interesting “hook.” He indicated that a bad-luck American businessman had died in a November 1997 plane crash in Chidi’s section of Africa, leaving the sum of 14 million dollars in an African Bank Account at the Banque Lome-Togo. ‘What a fantastic coincidence!’ I thought. ‘The plane crashed in the same African country where the American entrepreneur’s huge bank account existed! The millionaire victim’s bad fortune just had to be preceded with fantastic good luck.’ The poor deceased American had no relatives or heirs since according to Andrew Chidi’s research findings no one has claimed the fourteen million-dollar-bonanza that was just sitting there collecting cobwebs in the Banque Lome-Togo.
According to my new friend Andrew, all I had to do was send him an affidavit falsely asserting that I was the plane victim’s nearest next of kin. Presto-chango! My new African banking pal would then transfer the fourteen million to my Hammonton, New Jersey bank account. In a half a year’s time Andrew and his “partners” would show up in town and claim 70% of the windfall, leaving me with a handsome commission of 4.2 million bananas. Rule Number 1 of Internet scam analysis and investigation: if the e-mail is not personally addressed to you and is prefaced by “Dear Sir,” then ignore and delete it. Also, no legitimate business openly solicits your patronage over the Internet unless you have an account with them.
Andrew signed his fairly weird letter Best Regard. Now really intelligent fraud masters fully fathom that the second word in a letter’s closing is never capitalized and that the correct nomenclature should have been “Best regards.” I mean for heaven’s sake Andy, don’t insult my limited intelligence! First my solicitor wanted me to commit an international misrepresentation crime by pretending to be this dead man’s closest relative. Then Andrew Chidi desired for me to commit nefarious international conspiracy. I know that I am occasionally stupid but I am infuriated to feel that the African gentleman (here a polite reference) thinks that I AM ignorant enough to fall for a frivolous e-mail caper. Any dunce knows that any bank deposit into my account over ten thousand dollars would automatically be reported to and investigated by the IRS. ‘Certainly a mere fourteen million would never escape the IRS’s intense scrutiny,’ I facetiously reasoned!
A week later I received via e-mail another “Urgent Business Invitation” from one Tanko Bamiayi, who remarkably maintained that he had obtained my e-mail address from a widely used legitimate Internet Business Directory. In his lackluster missive Tanko introduced himself as the eldest son and heir to African Retired General Ishaya Bamaiyi (notice the different last name spelling), who had been the Defence Army Chief in the late Sani Abacha’s regime. Now I became wary of the spelling of the word “defence” but I gave Tanko the benefit of the doubt because the British spell “defense” that way, so I needed more grammatical evidence to justify my skepticism. Also, I had four questions nagging my ever-alert conscience. Who in tar’ nation was Sani Abacha, and how did he die? Who really cares how Sani Abacha expired? Did Tanko and his father conspire and assassinate Sani Abacha? Why does Tanko spell his last name differently than his seemingly famous military father?
Tanko explained in his extensive letter that 46 million dollars would be meritoriously transferred to my bank account from profits that had been skimmed from illicit African Arms and Ammunition acquisitions. I could get to keep 20% of the booty, a cool 9.2 million. ‘Who needs Andi Chidi’s meager 4.2 million when I could reap 9.2 million from Tanko and his all-powerful pop!’ I jokingly thought. ‘If I go for both deals, I could accumulate a remarkable 13.4 million and be able to afford the legal services of a high-powered attorney like Johnny Cochoran when prosecuted by the IRS, the CIA and the FBI. If lucky,’ I cleverly surmised, ‘I might even be able to afford having O.J. testify in my behalf.’
A red flag went up when Tanko wrote and expounded, “Believe me, there is no one else but you (the random recipient of the form letter) that my father and I can trust.” Give me a blessed break will you Tanko? Out of six billion or so humans on the face of the earth, Tanko and his compassionate and generous dad could only trust me, a perfect stranger passively living in the pinelands of southern New Jersey. ‘And if I became an instant criminal by joining their international conspiracy,’ I hypothesized, ‘I could be safely assured by the all-too-truthful maxim: ‘There is no trust among and between thieves and criminals’.’
My grammar and spelling theory about how to identify malicious fraud was finally proven in the weird letter’s last paragraph. “You have nothing to loose.” On the contrary Mr. Bamiayi, I have a pair of Bermuda shorts that are too loose! And the zany letter also stated that the windfall money would be “dully paid.” ‘I think Tanko really meant to express the terminology “duly paid” but perhaps I ought to consult a good dictionary before being too presumptuous and cynical. ‘Mr. Bamiayi, I resent your attempt to capitalize on greed,’ I concluded after looking up the word “duly” and carefully evaluating its definition just to verify what I already knew.
Scam artists are a definite downside to people doing legitimate business on the Internet. I believe that Andrew Chidi and Tanko wanted to each offer me a whale while trying to steal a trout from my personal bank account. “Holy mackerel!” I exclaimed without ever having seen a fish inside a church. “Those scam artists want my bank checking account number to tap into my records in order to electronically withdraw my hard-earned money. How villainous can wicked people get? They were on separate phishing expeditions.”
I reported the scams to the FBI in Newark. I haven’t heard from the Bureau. They’re probably too busy now with terrorists and with anthrax threats to deal with international white-collar criminals. But one thing is certain: these low-life thugs operate outside the USA and consequently outside the jurisdiction of the IRS and the FBI. And they use electronic bank transfers from the bank accounts of greedy victims that have been hoodwinked by these somewhat imaginative get-rich-quick schemes.
Just yesterday I received an urgent e-mail from one Ibrahim Gwandu of Nigeria stating that……