Just before last Christmas we were delighted to report that Nigerian 419ers had surfaced in post-war Baghdad and had laid their hands on large quantities of gold and cash, like you do.
We now have reason to doubt these extravagant claims, because the latest intelligence - courtesy of reader Dave - suggests Saddam's booty had already left the country:
Please I need urgent assistance and advice. My name is Jume Hasa Hussein. I am daughter of Sadam Hussein, former ruler of Iraq Islamic Republic now in captivity. I was a student of Environmetal Microbiology at Islamic University Al-Athmia before the United Nations weapons inspectors arrived Iraq and subsequent outbreak of hostilities between my father and the Coalition forces. Eventually, my father was arrested at Ad-Dawr, Tikrit on the 13th day of december 2003. To my understanding, the american soldiers have narcotized my father. There is a saying in Iraq "a lion in a cage is still a lion"
All my father's known assets have been confiscated by the united nation's coalition group as illegally acquired at the expense of our country. Three of my brothers where tortured to death by the US soldiers for withholding information of my father's whereabout. Other members of our family have fled our country for fear of persecution. I am presently broke and trapped in a hidden location in our country pending when I secure help from a good samaritan who will assist me to claim a sum of US$30million which my father deposited in my name in a secured vault in Victoria Island in 1995 during my twenty first birthday out of foresight should we his children ever find ourselves in this kind of situation.
Most importantly, apart from helping me claim this funds into your custody you will also help me relocate from iraq, to a place where I will conclude my studies with relative peace of mind. For your assistance I am willing to offer you a generous compensation, if you help me.
Send your response to my secure email address: email@example.com to enable me further this relationship.
Ms. J. Hasana Hussein
All of this this will come as a bit of a surprise to Saddam's other daughters, Raghad and Rana. The pair were last seen in Jordan after their cousin Ezzedin al-Majid made an unsuccessful attempt to gain the disgraced Husseins a foothold in the UK at the unlikely venue of Leeds-Bradford airport. We do not have reason to suspect he was carrying large quantities of bullion/diamonds/bearer bonds when UK Immigration sent him packing, so it's entirely possible that Jume managed to slip away with the wedge.
Well, it would be if Jume Hasa Hussein were in fact Saddam's daughter and not the figment of some 419er's fertile imagination. The caged former Iraqi leader does have a third daughter, Hala, who disappeared shortly after the fall of her dear old pa. It seems the boys from Lagos have got a bit confused here attempting to give their cunning plan some authentic background detail.
Still, the indignant tone of the email is a nice touch. Readers are invited to imagine poor Jume in a hole in the ground somewhere in northern Iraq, alternately sobbing for her murdered brothers, bless 'em, and raging against the narcotization of the Lion of Babylon. For the record, we here in Blighty have a saying too: "A lion in a cage is still a lion, but a skinned lion in front of the hearth is a lionskin rug."
Nevertheless, a roaring fire will certainly be essential for anyone venturing out at this time of year to fill their pockets from the secured vault on Victoria Island - that particular landmass lies in the Canadian arctic. They certainly get around a bit these Husseins.
So, if you are a Good Samaritan with a thick woolly jumper, fur hat and skidoo and would like to help Jume get back to her studies in "Environmetal" Microbiology (Judas Priest meets anthrax, perhaps?), then you have the contact details.
Except, of course, you should never, ever, respond to one of these emails, unless indulging in the Olympic sport of Nigerian 419 fraudster baiting.
If this seems a blindingly obvious statement, then read this somewhat disturbing email which arrived yesterday:
I'm in the United States, and today I received an e-mail from Mr. Tony Fred Williams. It's exactly like the one you have posted on The Register's web-site in the article entitled "Teen 419er in Trainspotting drug hell"
This is one of those opportunities that sounds "to good to be true." Whereas you are obviously familiar with the situation, I thought I'd post an inquiry to you to investigate whether or not this is legitimate.
A couple of things strike me as odd to begin with: the first is, how did he get my e-mail address? And, secondly, being from the UK/Scottland area, why is the currency listed in US Dollars? Not that I expect you have the answer to these inquiries. They are obvious reasons for caution.
Other than publishing the article, how much do you know about Mr. Williams and his claim? Do you have other references that I might contact to ensure that this is not a scam???
If Tony Fred is, indeed, in need of assistance, I'd certainly be happy to oblige. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
Sadly, our extensive - and frequently facetious - coverage of advance fee fraudsters and their missives has not been sufficiently blunt to warn potential victims of the dangers of dealing with these charlatans.
To address our correspondant's queries: this sort of offer really is too good to be true. The "personalised" 419 email - containing the recipient's name - is a new development, and adds a small touch of authenticity. However, email addresses are easy enough to come by, and if they contain your name, it's hardly rocket science to stick that at the top.
As far as we are aware, 419ers prefer always to operate in dollars, and usually in multiples of millions. We can only assume they cannot be bothered to do a little local research. Indeed, you'd expect a solicitation from "Scottland" to be in quids.
If these pointers - added to the usual, preposterous, tale of African dictators and riches beyond the wildest dreams of avarice - are insufficient to assuage your greed, then this is what will happen next:
- You will be informed of some impediment to the release of the funds which can only be removed by an injection of (your) cash
- Convinced that you are about to receive $15m dollars, it seems reasonable to send $5,000 to facilitate said release
- Sadly, there is then another expense to be met, then another. Once you're in for 25k, you may as well see it through to the bitter end
- Having been well and truly fleeced, you may even receive a kind invitation to travel to collect the money. Upon arrival, you will be relieved of your remaining funds, passport, watch. You may even be kidnapped, if the 419ers believe that there are people at home willing to pay for the return of someone so thick that they really think that the sons/daughters/cousins of deposed African despots are going to give them a suitacse filled with millions of greenbacks
That's a brief summary of how it works, though there are plenty of variations on the theme. Good, solid advice on 419 fraud is available from the US Secret Service guide and the London Met's own Fraud Alert. You have been warned. ®
The "Lion in cage" reference was in fact uttered by Raghad Hussein in Jordan. She is reported as saying: "A lion is still a lion, even when it is shackled." Raghad also made the Saddam "drugging" accusation.