Daily Archives: November 27, 2007

419 on paper

The first 419 letter I ever saw was on paper.  It was back in about 1995, before scammers discovered email.  And it wasn’t even addressed to me: the lucky recipient of Nigerian millions was the owner of a bar in Rome.  He showed it to me because it was in English, and he thought that I as a native speaker (as well as a regular customer in his bar) might have some insight.  I didn’t: my puzzlement matched his own, and the thoroughly international word mafia suggested itself as an explanation.

Today in the post I had an envelope postmarked Malaga.  That’s a traditional holiday destination for Brits, so I wondered who the **** might be there and sending me … not merely a postcard, but a letter.  Opening it, turns out I’ve won a nice big share of a prize, from a lottery I (of course) never entered.  Yeah, right.

It’s actually a bloody good “nothing to lose” offer.  It’s not asking for sensitive information beyond what we all routinely disclose to strangers, e.g. when we make someone a payment.  The most likely-looking catch is that there’s a 10% agents fee, payable only after I’ve cashed their cheque.  Looks like an interesting timing issue, for their cheque to bounce after mine has irrevocably cleared.

I guess if I didn’t have the spam filter, I’d be reading the same thing many times a day.  But on paper it’s still a bit of a novelty.