This website is intended to give you a small insight into the world of the advance fee fraudster. So, what is an advance fee fraudster?
Advance fee fraudsters, often called “scammers”, are conmen who carry out a particular type of fraud, advance fee fraud, using the internet. Very simply, advance fee fraud involves a scammer offering his victim a large amount of money, but in order to access the money, the victim finds out that he or she has to pay a fee in advance. And then another fee. And then another one… and so it goes on, until the victim finally realises that they are being defrauded, at which point they retire to lick their wounds.
Advance fee fraud is sometimes referred to as “419 fraud”, 419 relating to the section of the Nigerian penal code that prohibits such activities.
Advance fee fraud has been going on for many years: since long before the internet was invented. However, the coming of the internet has seen the incidences of advance fee fraud rocket, as it provides 419 scammers with an instant, cheap method – email – of communicating with large numbers of people across the world. And the more people an advance fee fraudster can contact, the more chance he has of finding someone who is taken in by the fraud.
In a typical advance fee fraud email – if you have an email address, you may have received some yourself – the scammer will claim to be someone with access to a large sum of money. For example, they may claim to be a bank official with access to the funds within the account of a dead customer, or someone who needs help to smuggle a large fortune contained in a safety deposit box out of their country; there are countless variations on the theme. The email will ask you for your help in getting access to the money, and will offer you a percentage in return. The sums mentioned are usually very large, running to millions of dollars. All the scammer needs, he says, is for you to nominate a bank account into which the money can be transferred.
If you are unfortunate enough to reply to such an email and are taken in by the scammer’s story, you will soon find out that the only money that’s going to change hands is your own. You will soon find out that there are palms to be greased before you can access the money. You may be introduced to bogus solicitors and bankers, who will require you to pay fees up front to get the money signed over into your name. You may be asked to send money to help the scammer’s ill relatives. Again, the variations are endless.
Some advance fee fraudsters not only get you to send them money; some also try to persuade you to travel abroad to meet them and carry out the transaction – for example, to sign for and receive a safety deposit box that allegedly contains a fortune. This gives the scammers the opportunity to defraud people in person, rather than over the internet. Or worse.
Advance fee fraud is an international phenomenon: there are advance fee fraudsters operating in many countries. Much advance fee fraud seems to be concentrated in a number of countries in West Africa, especially Nigeria. However, the criminal gangs who are involved in this fraud can have international connections. A person might receive an email from a scammer in an internet café in Nigeria, and might then be transferred on to another scammer working in Holland or Spain.
When you read an advance fee fraud email, you may find it difficult to believe that people are actually taken in by them. The English is often poor, the spelling atrocious, and the stories wildly unbelievable. But people are taken in by them, regularly. Advance fee fraud is big business, and the people who carry it out are criminals.
Having received a number of advance fee fraud emails, I decided to do something in retaliation. It’s a small gesture, but I decided to try and waste the time of these scammers as much as possible: to give them less time to defraud other people. I decided to scam the scammers: to string them along with bogus stories just as they string along others. I decided to try to get them to waste their time attempting to access money I said I’d transferred to them, attempting to contact me, or attempting to meet me in pre-arranged locations. And as you will read, it’s worked.
As well as wanting to waste the scammers’ time, I also wanted to have a bit of fun: to play with them by inventing ridiculous personas and scenarios and see exactly how far I could go without the scammers realising that I wasn’t for real. So I invented the multi-faceted character of Gilbert Murray, and started to respond to the advance fee fraud emails I received. I hope you enjoy the results.
Remember as you read this website that advance fee fraudsters are criminals. All they want is your money, and they will do whatever they need to in order to get it. So if you’re tempted to feel sorry for the people who I’ve messed around while writing this, don’t. They are not nice people.
Note that although I have improved the spelling and punctuation, and occasionally the grammar of the scammers’ emails in order to make them more readable, I have not altered anything that they have said.
Note also that nothing in this website is intended as a slur on any particular country, nationality or race. Advance fee fraud goes on in many countries; it just so happens that most of the scams in this website originate in West Africa. This website is intended to poke fun at the individual scammers, not their countries, nationalities or races. Advance fee fraudsters are a disgrace to their own countries, and have done much to harm the international reputation of many countries overseas.
You may be wondering what you should do if you receive an advance fee fraud email? First of all, do not believe it. Second, do not respond to it. Third, delete it. If you feel like causing the scammer some difficulty, you can always forward the email onto the abuse department of the scammer’s internet service provider, for example firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. ISPs are not keen to have their services abused by scammers, and will often do what they can to shut down email accounts that are used in this way.
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