Support Our Troops In the Fightin' 419th

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I don't know what's more satisfying in this message I got today from Sgt. Robert Mcgrover—the nudge-nudge-wink-wink tone or the fact that enlisted Marines are finally getting in some of the big windfalls that ordinarily go to Suha Arafat and Prince Soki Mobutu:

I know you would be surprised to read from someone relatively unknown to you before. My name is Sgt. Robert Mcgrover, a U.S. Marine 1st Armored Division, which was deployed to Iraq in the beginning of the war in Iraq. I would like to share some highly personal classified information about my personal experience and role which I played in the pursuit of my career serving under the U.S 1st Armored which was at the fore-front of the war in Iraq.

Though, I would like to hold back certain information for security reasons for now until you have find the time to visit the BBC website stated below to enable you have insight as to what I'm intending to share with you, believing that it would be of your desired interest one way or the other.

Stash of money found in Baghdad

Also, could you get back to me having visiting the above website to enable us discuss in a more clarifying manner to the best of your understanding. I must say that I'm very uncomfortable sending this message to you without knowing truly if you would misconstrue the importance and decides to go public. In this regards, I will not hold back to say that the essence of this message is strictly for mutual benefit of you and I and nothing more.

I will be vivid and coherent in my next message in this regards, meanwhile, could you send me a mail confirming you have visited the site and that you have understood my intentions? Alternatively, you can send your e-mail response, using e-mail address:robert_mcgrover@tangana.com

Thanks,

Best Regards

SGT. Robert Mcgrover
robert_mcgrover@tangana.com

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  1. Does anyone know of any stats anywhere that mention the relative success rate of these 419 style scams?

    Although I admire the ability of these con men to constantly employ different backstories, I just find it hard to believe that any siginficant number of people fall for this sort of thing.

    As an aside: When I was in the service, I spent several years working side by side with many Marines. I think any Marine who would say something like “I will be vivid and coherent in my next message in this regards” would probably get his ass kicked.

  2. Just the thought of it is making me vivid and coherent.

  3. Well, maybe I can put together the money from the sarge there along with the money I’ll be getting from the secret bank accounts transfer of Charles Taylor that I’ll be laundering and the
    “TWO MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS” that the nice Kenyan economist in my e-mail says I’m the next of kin too!

    It is good that I’m related to so many people and that so many people find my trustworthy for their secret money deals!

  4. “Drinkin’ some wine. Eatin’ some cheese. Catchin’ some rays.”

  5. Did George Clooney play him, or was that Mark Wahlberg?

  6. Although I admire the ability of these con men to constantly employ different backstories, I just find it hard to believe that any siginficant number of people fall for this sort of thing.

    How many people have to fall for it for it to be worth it? …The Gross National Income per capita in Nigeria is like $1,000 US. …and what’s your cost?

  7. Cool! I’ll help the good Sgt. move that money. We can use the bank account that I’ll establish after those guys in Nigeria make the deposit that they keep promising me.

  8. I’m just amazed that this person thinks his English is good enough to fool a native speaker.

  9. Ken,
    Woof woof woof

  10. Mark Borok: how many non-native English speakers do you think there are around the world that might receive the message? They send these out pretty much at random.

    There was a fellow locally who managed to be drawn into this. It came as a tremendous shock to everyone, since it’s such a running joke. The victim was a successful small businessman who was drawn in for initially very small sums and then couldn’t bring himself to admit he’d been had. He ended up losing his business over it.

  11. Foreign currency worth nearly $200m has been found in a Baghdad neighbourhood(sic), the US military say.

    Wasn’t that show canceled already?

  12. Good point Ken. The requirements of ‘practical success’ for our local con men aren’t quite the same as those as overseas.

    Now I imagine some protectionist running around, “Foreign con men are undercutting domestic con men. Our con men cannot compete with our labor costs!”

  13. If these people have the internet, you’d think that they would know that the Army has a 1st Armored Division…you know, since armored means tanks and all. However, the 1st MARINE Division merely has a battalion of tanks. A cursory knowledge of the military would send off the BS detector two sentences in.

  14. James –

    Presumably most of those non-native English speakers wouldn’t understand the email, unless they had a grasp of English that was just good enough to understand it, but not so good that they would spot the many mistakes and weirdly formal style.

    I know some French, am not a native speaker, but would be able to spot a fraud as bad as this one at once if it was in French.

    I’ve been browsing 419eater.com and some of these scammers seem to be as stupid and gullible as their targets.

  15. Please do not pratfall on that obvious scam. Instead, be forwarding your money to me and I will keep it safe.

  16. They didn’t recognize that powa of the Foe On Nine!

  17. Everyone, please be careful of scam artists on the Internet.

  18. In Vietnam, strictly as an insignificant, one-time experiment, I tried money-changing:
    Military scrip for dong?
    I don’t remember the detail.

    Had I been a Sergeant Bilko, I could have come back a wealthy dude, but it made me nervous.

    At least, under Julius Ceasar, there was a systematic procedure for dividing the spoils.

  19. Ken & Warren,

    What’s with them negative waves?

    finest war/scam movie evar!

  20. I think I enjoyed that “Ebola Monkey Man” a little bit *too* much.

  21. “In Vietnam, strictly as an insignificant, one-time experiment, I tried money-changing:
    Military scrip for dong?
    I don’t remember the detail.”

    I’m glad you’re sparing the details, military scrip for dong sounds really gross.

  22. In financial news, the dong opened strong, and rose in heavy trading. After peaking, the dong fell suddenly, and it is expected that it will take some time to recover. The dong will have trouble being accepted as hard currency until it becomes able to stay up longer.

  23. Hey Warren, give us your other dog imitation!

  24. My advice is to go short on dong.

  25. Also, as far as I know, there’s no such animal as a 1st Armored Division in the Marine Corps.

  26. Jeremy Beard,

    In one form or another this scam has been around since at least the 18th century.

  27. thanks for not repeating me or anything, Ray.

  28. I liked the one a few years ago with the controversy over uranium from Niger.

    “Dear Sir, My uncle was the Minister of Mines in Niger. He has some money, in Iraqi currency, that we need to move to the US. If you could give me the info needed to access your bank account….”

  29. Hakluyt,

    Really? The 18th century? That is rather interesting.

    Where did it first originate?

    I’m assuming that the Nigeria dominance of the scam is a bit more recent, but admittedly my knowledge of A) scam history and B) Nigeria are not exactly extensive.

  30. There was a credit union exec in Amarillo, TX that got taken for nearly a half million. It is hard to imagine how any one in the financial services industry could a. not have read any of the dozens of circulars warning of these schemes, and b. believed in the money for nothing premise.

  31. Jeremy,

    As I recall the scam was snail mail based at the time, and it was used to entice Britons out of their money. The scam’s story at the time concerned an exiled Asian prince. In the 19th century the scam tended to concern the child, nephew, etc. of a disposed leader, etc. in Latin America. In the 20th century the scam picked up the name that it has today – the “Spanish Prisoner” scam of the 1920s. In that variant you were asked to help break a wealthy man out of a Spanish jail and in return you would be greatly rewarded.

    It wouldn’t suprise though if such scams didn’t exist in Roman history, with some Roman sod getting mail about a deposed Germanic, North African or Asia Minor prince and the efforts of his son to regain some of their lost loot. In any case, the pre-requisite for such a scam would seem to be an adequate mail system.

  32. I think some of the early versions of this scam actually involved the “Philosopher’s Stone” and turning base metals into gold. Ben Jonson’s play The Alchemist (1610) is based around a swindle like this – basically, “Give us all your stuff and we’ll turn it into gold.”

    FACE. O, sir, you’re come i’ the only finest time.–
    MAMMON. Where’s master?
    FACE. Now preparing for projection, sir. Your stuff will be all chang’d shortly.
    MAM. Into gold?
    FACE. To gold and silver, sir.

  33. There’s no such thing as U.S. Marine 1st Armored Division.

  34. JD,

    Good pick-up. 🙂

  35. Hal and JD,

    Thank you for your information.

  36. Jeremy Beard, Ken Schultz:

    This 2002 Slate piece lays out the economics of the scam for Nigeria:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2072851/

    Here’s their key passage:

    “Though most people merely laugh at the pleas’ awful grammar and all-caps style (“I WILL LIKE YOU CONTACT MY LAWYER …”), about 1 percent of recipients actually respond. Of that number, enough people fork over enough cash to sustain an industry that ranks in Nigeria’s top five, right up there with palm oil and tin. The U.S. Secret Service has estimated?conservatively, by its own admission?that the scammers net $100 million per year.”

  37. I just came across this site for the “3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference”

    http://j-walk.com/other/conf/index.htm

    It’s gotta be a joke… Just look at the itenerary:

    “Breakfast Kickoff Session:
    Your choice: A hard boiled egg, or two slices of white bread and a cricket.”

  38. Mark Borok comments, “I’m just amazed that this person thinks his English is good enough to fool a native speaker.”

    Indeed, the author’s English is way too good for anyone to think he’s an American, let alone a Marine.

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