Saturday, 12 December 2015

Syrian ‘scams’ have a Nigerian ‘flavour’

Aid Worker retrieving a Syrian child from debris following a Syrian Air Force attack  - Scammers are cashing in on the plight of innocents!

 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. In November 2013, this column produced an article entitled “Nigerian Scams from Iran?” which has been extensively read in many parts of the world subsequently. The latest such attempt has been made via Facebook but this time, perhaps topically it comes from someone claiming to be in a military establishment in Syria. This is what the ‘poor widow’ has to say after much preliminary platitudes:

“I am so happy being your friend after so much talks today I came to a conclusion to open up to you because I understand you are someone with a good heart and may not betray me. So i have to have the confidence in you and i want to tell you everything and all the secrets that i have here. My dear before my husband was killed he was a wealthy man because he served as a top military with his Rank up to (فريق أول Feriq awwal) before he died, on that day he was bleeding to death he revealed to me that he had hid some 1.3 million Dollars in a security box with Red Cross Diplomatic Agency in Michigan city Indiana State 46360 USA and wants me to start a new life with our kids with it outside Syria."

"The attack on that fateful day destroy everything we had and I lost my husband, family members and valuables. I have written to Red Cross Diplomat and they have confirmed box with them and they do not have idea on the content. Here, we do not have money to run the expenses on our travel, and our lives so much depend on the box of money. "

"I have so much confidence in you and I want to send the money (box) to you through a diplomat so that you will receive the box and i tell you the security code to open the box. You will collect your delivery expenses money and send us some money through the Red Cross agency to plan our travel arrangement to your place. On our arrival, we plan for establishment and settlement. I know you will not regret helping a poor widow in a war center gain freedom and peace with her two kids. In reciprocating for your kind human gesture on securing the box, we will release to you 30% of the total money. Please write me in confirmation." (SIC)

Needless to say one has not exactly rushed to the aid of our Syrian ‘war-widow’ whose given name and email address do not appear to have much connection with that troubled land! “Leslie Biggs” with the initial part of his/her email address being ‘erickbiselela’ does not give the impression of originating in Raqqa, Alleppo or Damascus but is more likely to arise from some flea-pit internet café in Lagos, where historically so many of these vile scams have originated from, milking as they do upon the genuine concerns the real victims of situations that we have witnessed in Syria these past five years.


These types of scams, as they are known, are really 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. Equally, to come up with a spin involving the loss of a loved one is as nauseous as the former tactic.

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. Beware of scams, wheresoever they derive from!


Chris Green 

Beşparmak Media Services