So, you’re in your cage-like cubicle at work (wishing you weren’t), when suddenly you receive a strange email.
It is borderline unreadable. It’s almost as if it’s been sent from a far away land. The subject reads, “URGENT: Help Us – We will pay.” The email is written in a cryptic and desperate voice; the way Princess Leia sounds in that hologram that comes out of R2D2′s pie hole in Star Wars.
As you read further down the message you see the signature title… “Prince of Nigeria.”
What?! Yay! Finally, my Princess Diaries dream of having someone stumble across my greatness has happened! This is the moment that will change my life forever!
No. It isn’t. It is an email from someone of non-royal lineage trying to take advantage of your stupidity, desperation and illusions of grandeur. You are not that special, and this is an email scam.
In fact, this scam is nothing new. It is a trick that dates back to the 1920s – then known as the “Spanish Prisoner Con.” The “royal” message asks the recipient for help moving money out of the sender’s country. “All you need to do” is pay the legal fees involved… which just keep piling up. You put money into some crook’s pocket, and you never see a dime. Genius.
Another well-known email scam is the “Lottery Scam.” The email states that the recipient is entitled to millions of dollars in winnings. Images of large houses, yachts and pina coladas entice idiots to follow through with the request involved – pay a $3,000 processing fee. C’mon! Seems like a great deal!
In reality, these scams are mostly run by teams of criminals from overseas. They are known by some as “Sakawa Boys.” VICE released their documentary about it in March of 2013. Witchcraft is involved… Woah.
WARNING: This stuff is for viewers 14+
So how can an everyday person battle the witchcraft-guided spammers of overseas? There are a few ways.
1) Ignore Them
You can always just let them pile up in your inbox. Just ignore them. Nobody is getting your credit card number by not getting you to respond. It may be annoying, but at least you aren’t losing $3,000 and waiting for a magic check to arrive at your door. Spoiler: that’s not going to happen.
2) Report Their Email Address
Most email services have an option to report a user. Give it a shot. Many services can only do so much about email addresses hosted outside of certain countries, however, it could keep them from targeting others. (Like the elderly… or the stupid.) In reality, most of these scammers will simply sign up for a new email address and continue their business initiatives.
3) Lead Them On / Annoy Them
Just mess with them. As long as you don’t give away information – this could be a great free source of entertainment. Send them a 1300-word story about a dog who lost his way home. Send them last semester’s report on fiscal policy in America. Send them a series of corny Internet comic strips your grandmother sent you in 2002 – they will be brand new to the recipients. Just shoot them a message to see how they’re doing. Your best bet, is to respond as a Sakawa god entity. You could tell them they have displeased the Sakawa gods and must pay a sum of $3000.
Send them this…
In all seriousness, your best chance at defrauding these criminals is slim. Blocking them within your email provider will ensure they cannot send you further “offers.” Stay away from responding to any message you are uneasy about with any personal information included. More than likely, they are not royalty – just a royal pain in the ass.