Monday, November 24, 2008

A Christmas Carol, Updated

I cannot count the number of times I have received emails from Nigerian 419 scammers. I thought I had seen all of the permutations of the letter designed to hook unwary victims, but today I saw one with a new spin.

It seems a Mr. Shu Ya Huo is rich and is dying from esophageal cancer that has “defiled all forms of medicine”. He now regrets that he has lived his life as a selfish man. He says, “I was always hostile to people and only focus on my business as that is the only thing I cared for.” He has given most of his wealth to friends, family and charities in the UK, Ireland and Brazil. Alas, he has now lost his power of speech and due to his failing health cannot do this by himself anymore. However, he still has a few dollars lying around and he wants to give that away as well. He had asked a family member to help in his philanthropic endeavors, but the greedy SOB kept the money for himself. Therefore, Mr. Shu does not trust them with this, his final transaction. He has a sum of money in his “Bank in London” and he is asking me to “collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations”.

The letter doesn’t mention the amount of money or what my take of the loot may be. That is the interesting twist. Evidently, the curiosity and humanity of the recipient will be the bait that lures him into the trap. And coming at Christmas, it is timed to appeal to the charity minded. After all, who could resist this chance to help a stranger in need when he wants to do such good works during the season of giving? The only thing missing in this updated version of a Charles Dickens classic is Tiny Tim.

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