appealing industries
The Nigerian Pen-Pal Initiative

There is spam and then there's fun spam. Amid the endless barage of deals on pills and porn, every now and then, you get what have affectionately been dubbed The 419 Scam. It is most often the friend or relative of a deposed leader who has a stash of money he'd like to put in your bank account for safe keeping. For this service, you are rewarded with some percentage (say, $10,000,000). Of course, once you give them your banking information your account gets cleaned out and you never hear from them again. It is a scam that, sadly, many have fallen for.

So what would happen if you wrote back even though you knew it was a scam? You could make up your own bizarre story and have a fun back-and-forth. Inspired by a friend's own initiative, I launched my own scam-the-scammer series. It started out with Nigerian siblings, but later I received Russian pleas that were too good to pass up. Enjoy!

October 2003
A Nigerian brother and sister want to come live in America with me, my wife, and their millions of dollars.
August 2005
Will you be mine, won't you be mine, will you be my barrister?
December 2005
A Russian girl is dying of cancer, and nothing can save her except my money.
May 2006
A lovelorn Russian woman dreams of moving to North Dakota to work in my spatula store.
October 2011
A Nigerian lottery official finally comes clean.
questions, answers, recriminations: