May 14, 2006

Writing on Nigerian Scams

This Friday I presented my very first conference paper. Its funny how nervous you can get even when you are talking to a mostly familiar audience, but everything went well, I actually even got people laughing several times. And now that I've had a couple days to calm down and let the experience sink in, I'm realizing that I really enjoyed it. So, now I'm all up for starting to compose new paper abstracts.

The paper itself was on the Nigerian Scam emails we all keep having our inboxes filled with. I finally read through one of them last February and was totally fascinated by the ways in which it played on stereotypical understandings of Africa. I started collecting all the emails I was receiving and doing some reseach into them - the U of C spam filters are really not that good, so I've had plenty data to work on. Did you know that such scams constitute the third largest industry in Nigeria, after oil and drugs? Yes, people really do fall for these in one way or other, though it seems like most of them think of themselves as conning the con-man only to realize that it was working the other way around after all. Its great stuff! Just look at this email sent to me by Princess Mawa. This is actually the one that first caught my eye in February, and that I analyzed in my paper.

Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2006 18:33:01 +0100
From: "princessaba" Add To Address Book
Subject: Dear your kind attention please

My Dear.
I greet you in the name of our lord whom we serve.
My name is Mrs.Princess Mawa.I am a widow and a mother of a girl without a male Child. I know you will see my letter to you as anembarrassment considering the fact that we do not know ourselves. I plead with you to be patient with me and give me audience because I found myself in a situation that I dont have any option than to contact you,so that you can help me in this problem I found myself into, so I feel very pleased to contact you for your assistance and business relationship. I live in Cote D'Ivoire with my only Daughter. My late husband was a loving, caring and hard working Business man who deals on OIL AND PETROLEUM BUSINESS but was killed by hired armed assasins.there is currently a civil war going on in Cote Ivoire where we are presently residing and thus my writing you this mail. Before the sudden death of my beloved husband, and father of my only daughter, my late husband intended to make an establishment through the assistance of his FOREIGN PARTNER outside A!
frica with the sum of US$10,000,000.00 (TEN MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS) but unfortunately he died before this proposed venture without even submitting the particulars of his FOREIGN INVESTOR whom the money was to be transferred into his account who is the BENEFICIARY of the money.Following his death, his family members insisted that I am not entitled to his property (Assets and money) since I am a woman and my offspring is all girl as I do not have a male child for my late husband claiming that it is what our tradition entails. Well, because of this barbaric traditional law here in COTE D'IVOIRE which doesn't permit a woman to inherit her Husbands property incase of death if she has no male child, the relatives of my late Husband are expected by tradition to take over the management of his business and other properties including myself who automatically becomes a wife to one of his immediate brothers. Unfortunately to this wicked family members of my late Husband, t!
he US$10,000,000.00 which my late Husband intended to use in establish

ing a business through his FOREIGN PARTNER ABROAD was deposited in a Security Company In Europe named Holland unknown to his family members. I and his lawyer are the only ones aware of this money, so I and my late Husbands Lawyer have discussed this matter with a Staff of the security company that we want this money transferred claimed by you so that I can nleave this country with my only daughter to come and meet with you in your country where we wish to stay for the rest of our lives to enable me take care of my only daughters educational needs since my husband's family members vehemently opposed the furtherance of her education. According to the staff of the security company the best way to secure this funds is to proceed to their company in Holland to do the necessary required things there and claim the funds from them on my behalf, after which you clear and claim it from them it will be used for business establishment subject to the Advise of you on the kind of Invest!
ment to go into with the funds. Now at this juncture, I therefore to enable us forward it to the security company in Holland as my beneficiary whom will claim the funds from them on my behalf As soon as I get your positive response, I shall provide you with all the rest necessary detail for the conclussion of the transaction.including the documents of the deposit of the money which is in my position now. After due consultation with my Lawyer, I have decided to to give you 20% of the total money as a reward for your sincere assistance while the remaining 80% of the money will be put into any lucrative investment of your choice which of course will be under your Management and control. kindly send throug my email, your personal details as requested above including your contact information for easy communication.Please for confidentiality and secrecy because at this moment I cannot communicate freely with you through our telephone number in the house, kindly contact me throu!
gh email and I will call you when you give me your telephone contact.I

t is important I inform you that my late Husbands Attorney has assured me that he will handle the legelity of the transaction with you to the end of it so be ensured that the transaction is 100% risk free and successful. Thanking you for your anticipated co-operation and urgent response.Note that in your inability to travel to Europe Holland to conclude the transaction we can negociate with the Security Company's Staffs,so that they can deliver the funds to your verious destination.
Remain Blessed.
Yours Respectfully,
Mrs.Princess Mawa.


In case you want to read the whole paper, just email me and I'll send it to you.


Blogger Matthew said...

Congratz E! I meant to write to wish you luck, but the end of the last week totally threw me for a loop (and besides, I knew you didn't need it!).

- Matt

5/16/2006 11:19 PM  
Anonymous lorenz said...

You don't want to put your paper on the web?

5/28/2006 5:12 AM  
Blogger Elina said...

Hey Lorenz,
I'm definitely thinking of doing that, but I need to clean the paper up a bit, since its now still in more of a presentation format.
If you want to read it before that though, just let me know and I'll email it to you.

5/28/2006 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Tiram said...

Hi! I'd like to read your paper, but I couldn't find your e-mail address anywhere. Mine is, if you don't mind sending me the paper:)

Oh BTW, I'll be linking to your blog from mine.

6/04/2006 4:31 AM  
Blogger Elina said...

Hi Tiram,

My scam paper is on its way to you.

Thanks for pointing out that my contact info actually wasnt on here anywhere. It's on my profile now.

6/04/2006 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, you have stumbled upon a fascinating area of language. I have
about five years of these letters collected, and have focused my study
on stereotypes as well as security in the papers that I have presented
at ethnic studies and anthropology conferences in the past. The
security work is done by Davi Ottenheimer, an information security
professional, and we are preparing to present again at a major
international ethnic studies conference in Turkey this November. Come
see us if you would like to discuss more.

Harriet Ottenheimer
Professor of Anthropology and American Ethnic Studies, Emerita
Kansas State University

9/06/2006 12:54 PM  

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