24 September 2006


It was fun while it lasted, but we’ve been rumbled. An email from Ali Mohamed arrived, followed by one from Dr Jasir Kelsi.

Ali Mohamed works in the Bill and Exchange department of Bank of Africa, based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and recently discovered an abandoned sum of $11.3m. He kindly tracked down the anonymous TWL and asked for our account details so he could share this abandoned figure with us. As we were about to send our reply we suddenly remembered the equally enticing offer from PR Week and thought that maybe it was a clever bluff.

Dr Jasir Kelsi was in touch shortly after, having discovered an abandoned $20.5m while carrying out his day-to-day duties in the auditing and accounting department of Bank of Africa, based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. His email even included a link to a BBC news page (no link provided for obvious reasons) as proof of the terrible accident that had killed the original owner of the money and all his family, leaving the cash available to any gullible, er lucky, claimant.

Once again, although almost taken in, we eventually decided that this might not be 100 per cent true. Our hopes lifted briefly based on the CIA World Fact Book pointing out that Burkina Faso’s “industry remains dominated by unprofitable government-controlled corporations,” which would explain all this cash hanging around in various departments of the national bank, but we still played it safe.

Similarly we had suspicions about emails from VIP Casino, the Euro Millions and the National Lottery of, yep, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on the basis that we never entered those competitions (not as TWL at least, anyway).

So, we’ve been rumbled. It’s spam city in our in-box. Bloody internet, full of faceless wide-boys causing trouble. But it did put us in mind of Will Sturgeon’s classic investigation into 419 scams….

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A much longer, but very amusing, story about 419 scammers being caught out at their own game is here: http://www.419eater.com/html/john_boko.htm

If you're short of time, just scroll through the pictures - you'll get the gist of it.