Photo Diary

The 419 Scam

There are a lot of people out there who’d love to steal your money. Seriously. They would ideally like to have to do no work for it. No, really. Luckily you’re not daft, eh?

But a lot of people are. And they are scammed. Regularly.

The usual one follows the lines of a private mail I got today. Here it is:

Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur October 30 at 5:30pm Report

Are you in anyway related to Mr. Stephen Jecks, an American Businessman who died together with his entire family in Ghana four years ago from a ghastly car accident?

Since then his bank has tried hard to get in touch with his extended family members to claim his 27.9 million Ghana Cedis which is approximately US$18.6 million.

In any case, whether you are related to him or not, let me know; perhaps with my influence, I will ensure the money is transferred to the US or any country of your choice in your name — after all, you have a similar surname.

For security reasons, send me a mail via

Once I see your reply, I shall send you details of Stephen Jecks.

Where’s the harm in contacting this fellow, eh?

Well, the harm comes from talking to these arses at all. Because they work on the basis of (supposedly) feasible stories. You respond, they ask for some simple stuff, you respond with little things, and then they ask for a few dollars to bribe an official to get the money out of their country to you.

It won’t arrive. Soon, you hear that they need more money to pay another official. You pay. You still see no money. They will keep asking for as long as you keep paying. It’s a standard fraud, called 419 in the Nigerian criminal code, which is where it gets the name.

However, it’s getting worse now. Because of the lovely possibilities, the scammers aren’t only getting interested in your money, now they also want your ID. If they can get enough details on you, your home address, your bank details, anything, they may be able to pretend to be you. They may be able to, for example, redirect your mail to their own address and apply for a credit card in your name. You never see the application or the confirmation letters or the bills. They have all been redirected. But you are probably liable when the bailiffs are sent to visit.

But that’s a long way from this fellow. Dear old Kwesi (who won’t look like his Facebook photo, I suppose) is no doubt looking for me to pay him to bribe someone in his country so that he can pocket my cash. The great thing about this scam is that the police will probably have a good laugh at you.


Well, what you are doing is agreeing to get involved in fraud yourself. He is asking you to help him to bribe government officials, yes? Not in your country, perhaps, but carry on: you are agreeing to commit a crime, and you are doing so in order to commit a greater crime, because you are attempting to get into money laundering.

That means that any money you send off is gone, baby, gone, no matter what you think of the nasty man who committed a crime in taking it from you.

After all, you were robbed while trying to commit a crime yourself. Doesn’t win you any friends in the police.

Seriously, I used to know a guy who received one of these scams years ago. He was very tempted, and when he was asked for twenty thousand pounds in order to release some millions, he was so delighted, he began contacting people to try to form a syndicate. He was a bright man, professional, running his own business, and he swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

Because people are greedy. We all love the thought of money for nothing, don’t we? I know I do – it’s the only bloody way, as a writer, that I’m ever likely to be able to retire!

But the old, old rule applies, folks. If it looks too good to be true – it’s a scam! Always. Seriously. Like the lottery tickets that have won, when you haven’t bought the bloody thing. These are scams. Don’t fall for them.

BUT – if you like a laugh, and want to see how other people behave with these scams, look at this:

It really is worth a look. Hilarious series of true stories.

Don’t forget – if it looks too good to be true . . .

And here he is!

Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur

Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur

What a nice man!

I’ve been collecting these scams for years now. Originally I was so attracted by their inventiveness, I thought I’d use them in a story (plagiarism of an attempted fraud rather appealed to me!) but now I think I may just copy them here. What do you reckon?

Take care, folks.

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