Friday, 8 November 2013

“Nigerian Scams from Iran?”


Chris Green

For many years now, we have become accustomed to being seduced by what have become known as Nigerian Scams. The writer first became so acquainted with these in about 1990 via the medium of a fax (remember faxes?) and more closely so when actually in Lagos, probably the most hostile city ever encountered by this columnist during an excess of 30 years travelling experience. Since then, as communications technology has advanced, such solicitations are transmitted via email, SMS, Skype and a whole variety of online media.

Even professional networks are not immune to these scammers, who are invariably of Nigerian origin although not exclusively so. Transmission techniques may have moved with the times, the content remains defiantly similar; a very 'hard luck' story usually involving family members, one of whom will have ‘miraculously’ squirreled away vast millions of Dollars and all that is required is a bank to transfer it too. Being seduced by the lure of a ‘generous’ share of this windfall risks entrapment or worse. What is really infuriating is the invocation of religious fealty, as if to add-value or credence to the appeal. As will be revealed though, these scammers seem to be assuming new national identities and for the first time ever, such a solicitation has been received from ostensibly Iranian origins!

A few days ago, the writer was invited to connect with an ‘Iranian’ woman within the LinkedIn network. There is nothing unusual due to ongoing ties with several Iranian nationals and indeed, this column has run several articles in relation to that country. The following though represents radically edited extracts from the surprise letter received from the person concerned:

(Names have been replaced with ****)

I have the belief as I promise you right now saying Bismillah(In the Name of Allah) that this communication will later be a testimony in our life though we just known each other through internet which is now an unsecured means of communication since some people of wicked mind without conscience comes here to tell lies and put others into trouble but please read my message very well though it may be the least of what you expects from me since we are just new friend but like the meaning of my first name S**** in Farsi language, it is my wish and desire now to tell you all about me due to my happiness from knowing you. My names are S****, born and raised up into a Muslim family that cherish the principle of good moral child up bring in Islamic Republic of Iran. 

I decided to let you know everything about me because I have faith it was Masha Allah(Allah's will) that lead me to know you after fasting with offering prayers to him. My birthday is 18-11-1987 in ancient city of Zarand in Kerman province. My father, **** of the blessed memory was a businessman but previously a diplomat that served at Iranian embassy in Senegal and Venezuela. Death never give me the opportunity of having to enjoy the comfort of my good home for long as I first lost my mother two days to my 16th birthday anniversary on Tuesday 18-11-2003 in a rape incident but I always believe Allah knows the best. 

It was after the death of my mother that my father concluded that Iran is no more safe for girls and he took the decision that I will continue my education in Senegal which he said is safer Muslim country with his previous experience there since many people have been raped in Iran without justice being done to the rapists.

One of the documents in the file given to me by my late father was a bond certificate of Three million, two hundred thousand dollar in an account he opened with an Islamic bank of which I am the next of kin to the account. The bank requested me to appoint a representative on my behalf as trustee giving them his first and last name with email address so that they will tell him how to take the money on my behalf. I have already developed confidence with you since I believe knowing you was through divine intervention but please promise and assure me that you will always stand by me even after receiving the money in your account if you are willing to help me.

Needless to say, this mail has been neither acknowledged nor replied to: What really took the writer by surprise is not so much the content, which is fairly standard, but it is the origins thereof. There are however, clues within the text which render forth inaccuracies; for example, there are a number of references made in Arabic whereas Farsi is the predominant language of Iran. In the whole text, some 950+ words, other slip-ups can be detected too.

Having taken advice from ones many, various and well-placed contacts, it seems pretty certain that in fact this does not take its origins from Iran at all, but from West Africa as was first suspected and on the face of it, no harm has been done but that is not to say that someone maybe duped and furthermore, the perpetrator concerned is vigorously connecting with various business people via LinkedIn, which is a professional networking medium.

These types of scams, as they are known, are the work of criminal gangs and let us be in no doubt as to this reality as there have been a number of cases where people who have been so duped, they have been enticed to fly to Lagos or wherever, ostensibly to sign documentation and have found themselves taken hostage or worse; but irritating though it is to have ones intelligence impugned by such approaches, the writer believes it to be more than deplorable to indulge in the use of sacred religious text in an attempt to add weight to their solicitation, deeply insulting you would have to think, to those who might be offended in this way.

Just as the scam mail received by this column arrived via the internet, this article will be similarly transmitted around the world and throughout the various networks in an attempt to highlight this type of crime and to urge all due caution in internet transactions.

Chris Green for Besparmak Media Services