October 3, 2009

Nigerian scam in Thailand

Advance-fee fraud is also commonly called a "Nigerian scam", because the African country is home to large numbers of people employing this scam technique.

People get hooked by their own greed, when some kind stranger emails them out of the blue to ask them to serve as the next of kin for some heirless millionaire, or lets them know they've won some valuable prize. Most of these never make it to my inbox, thanks to email spam filters.

This one didn't make it to my inbox either, but I spotted it in my spam directory while looking for spam false positives. It's absolutely 100% classic Nigerian scam, but the story is based on Thai soil this time:

From The Desk Of Barrister Kane Chan,
Kane Chan & Associate Chambers
37 Sathorn Tai Road, Bangkok Thailand.
Tel: [redacted]
Email: [redacted]

PRIVATE AND HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL.

Dear Friend,

Please kindly accept my apology for sending unsolicited mail to you I believe you are a highly respected personality considering the fact that I sourced your profile from a human resource profile database on your country. Though, I do not know to what extent you are familiar with events.

Well, I am Barrister Kane Chan, a Solicitor. I am the Personal Attorney to Mr.Steve Anderson, who used to work with SIAMRAK Company Limited in Bangkok Thailand. On the 21st of April 2004, My late client and his wife with their three children were involved in a car accident along Sukhumvit Express Road. Unfortunately, they all lost their lives in the event of the accident. Since then I have made several inquiries to your Embassy to locate any of my client's relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful.

After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to trace his relatives over the Internet to locate any member of his family but to no avail, hence, I contacted you to assist in repatriating the money left behind by my client in a Finance Company.Particularly, the Finance House where the deceased deposited the US$35 Million (Thirty Five Million United States Dollars only).

Consequently, this Finance House issued me a notice to provide the Next of Kin to claim the US$35 Million (Thirty Five Million United States Dollars only) in their custody within the next ten official working days. Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 5 years now, I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased to claim the fund as the Next of Kin to him so that the fund will be transferred to your account by the Finance House.

Upon receipt of the fund, I will come over to your country to meet with you for the disbursement of the fund and then you and I will share the money in this order: 55% will be for me, 45% will be for you. I have all the necessary legal documents that can back our claim we will make with the Finance House.

All I require is your honest co-operation to enable us seeing this deal through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. Once you are interested to work with me,your urgent response is needed please kindly get back to me as soon possible for more info as we cannot afford delays and also send me your full name and your direct telephone number for easy communication.

You are needed as a next of kin to inherit your brother left fund.

Best regards .

Barrister Kane Chan (Esq).
BARRISTER AT LAW (ESQ)

The email address was from a Hong Kong Yahoo account (ending in @yahoo.com.hk), but the phone number provided had a Thai country code, and the right number of digits to be a real cell phone number. I've removed the number because (a) if it's a real scammer's number, I don't want somebody to come along and read this and end up getting scammed because they're gullible, and (b) if it's just a randomly chosen number, I don't want poor Joe to get gullible morons pestering him either.

Anyway, this is the first time I've seen Thailand used a the purported source of funds in a Nigerian scam. There's no reason to assume the scammers are actually Thai, but you never know. One of the variations of the Nigerian scam is to lure the mark to one's own country, at which point the scammer holds his mark for ransom.

I Googled around and found variations on this email reported on scam watchdog sites, using at least four different barrister names and email addresses. Sadly, these scams will continue to work so long as there are still people who live at intersection of greedy and gullible in the Venn diagram of humanity.

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