419 (Advance Fee Fraud) scams aren’t amusing to the victim, but the chutzpah of a dictator’s wife claiming her $700m Swiss bankroll back is worth a chortle.
…At any rate she still rules in the wacky world of 419 scams, where her name frequently appears at the bottom of scam messages as the apparent sender of the email. She is the widow of Sani Abacha, former 'de facto President' of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998.
The news that Switzerland is returning $700 million to the Federal Government of Nigeria (some but by no means all of the money that we're told was salted away by Sani Abacha, though another $500 million was returned in 2006) seems to have inspired a new round of Maryam Abacha scam messages.
This one refers to an apparently genuine article in Nigeria's Daily Sun but claims that the money is bequeathed to Ms Abacha and her son Mohammed and will be or has already been disbursed. (I must find more excuses for using that word.) Observers of African affairs may find this surprising, given that Mohammed Abacha is alleged to have been implicated in the looting, transfer and laundering of eye-wateringly large sums from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Well, I'm keeping my feet well out of the murky waters of Nigerian political corruption, but I can recognize Advance Fee Fraud (AFF) when I see it. Here's a classic example, complete with scanned newspaper article as corroboration and support for the story. Actually, I have to wonder whether the lower scan has anything to do with the first, but perhaps I'm just cynical.
Still, it seems that 419s will become increasing entertaining as more scanners discover the usefulness of scanned material, stolen images, and Photoshop. (Hat tip to Graham Cluley.)
Anyway, on to the unfortunate case of Ms Abacha, who hasn't had a great time since her husband died, allegedly while frolicing with prostitutes. Shortly after she was stopped at Lagos Airport on her way out of the country with 38 suitcases of money. (Wow: and yet Virgin Airlines had the nerve to complain at the weight of the laptop in my hand-luggage… I wonder what airline she was using?) And I won't even mention the alleged theft of her jewelry or the collapse of the Abacha Peace Foundation. Still, it appears that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
My own share of the funds is now available for disbursement. I need a trustable partner who can claim these funds and invest judiciously for me and my two children and also make provisions for us to live Nigeria before we are completely ruined. Please give me your terms and conditions for helping me. How much you will take as your fee provided you will work with us as partners in progress. I have so many other transactions to take care but no freedom to do so. Please be straight with me.
I think it's wonderful how she's managed to keep her faith in human nature. Or at least in human gullibility. Especially when the dear lady and her entourage get so much hassle from timewasting, scambaiting scoundrels as the Reverend Ben Codpiece. ;-)
David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
ESET Senior Research Fellow
*Snappy seasonal dialogue from A Night At The Opera:
Driftwood (Groucho Marx): "That's in every contract, that's what you call a sanity clause."
Fiorello (Chico Marx): "You can't a fool a me there ain't no sanity clause"