Thursday, April 13, 2006

Is this what passes for a Nigerian scam these days?

You've all gotten these emails:
"Dear Sir/Madam [blah blah blah] my money totalling US$28,750,000. is in
Europe and hopefully, it would be paid into an offshore account. Can
you help me? Are you trustworthy?"
The idea being to keep sending you official looking documents for a while, and finally tell you the money is held up, and he needs to bribe an official, and can you send $2000 to help move the process along? It appears to prey on greed, so that puts it above scams that prey on the weak or stupid. But in reality it does prey on the weak. People who need a way out of poverty or debt, and are willing to believe anything that offers it.

My new policy for these emails is to always reply. It wastes the scammer's resources, and while they're busy working me, they may miss the opportunity to steal from a real sucker. My holy grail is to actually scam them back. Here's one possible hook: "As an IBM employee, I get 80% discounts on IBM laptops. We're not supposed to turn around and sell them, but I will, to raise the money. Unfortunately I'm strapped for cash [insert reason] and right now can't even afford the $400 to buy them in the first place. Could you wire it to me. I promise to turn in around within a week." I know you think it'll never work, but we'll see.

The most recent scam email I received was so pathetic, I had a hard time pretending to be that big of a sucker. He is not even really trying. Here is what is supposed to be a copy of the guy's passport:

Worst Nigerian Scam EVAR!

The worst Photoshop job! Evar! The scammer didn't even bother starting with a photo of a real passport, he just tried to draw it from scratch in the Windows Paint tool. The dots on the lower right go right off the passport, and are apparently floating in space. The signature and thumbprint are artlessly slapped in, Windows Paint isn't sophisticated enough to allow the blue background show through. The whole thing has discrete color transitions that you don't get from a photograph. And the man's photo is just so over-the-top. Notice how white and American and rich and trustworthy he looks! Pathetic! I give it zero out of ten. But nine out of ten for hilarity.

Gone are the days when these scammers would actually send you documents that looked like real (although obviously foreign) documents. All the romance has gone out of the Nigerian scamming business.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thankful it wasn't my alma mater

As some of you may know, the Duke lacrosse team has been accused of raping a 'dancer' (translation: stripper) at one of their parties. The following is the latest discovery in the case, an email from a player just a few hours after the incident (thanks to The Smoking Gun for the documents):

To whom it may concern

Tommrow night, after tonights show, Ive decided to have some strippers over to edens 2c. all are welcome.. However there will be no nudity. I plan on killing the bitches as soon as the walk in and proceding to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke issue spandex.. all in besides arch and tack please respond


I had tried to reserve judgment on these guys until I saw the entire contents of the search warrant document (linked above). The evidence is pretty solid. The email above certainly doesn't prove guilt, and in fact the guy who wrote it may not have been involved. His lawyer is claiming that the email shows he didn't know what had happened. Uh, no, what it shows is that he'd have to be really stupid to rape the woman and then send that email. But it's entirely possible he is, in fact, that stupid. I lived with lacrosse players my senior year in college. They were generally nice guys, but often were stupid meatheads. They liked to fight and hit things. I watched my roommates knock down a large section of sturdy 6-foot high wooden fence in our yard, they just kept running at it and ramming it until it broke. They got in numerous bar fights. One of them crashed his car into our several of our neighbors' cars, then hid his wreck at a friend's house and was never caught. Not that karma didn't catch up with him. One night he came in covered in his own blood, with his nose flattened, after picking a fight with the wrong guy.

I have to ask myself, were those guys capable of what the Duke players were accused of? I hope not. But I definitely recognize a lot of the same behavior and attitude.

I don't think they were born meatheads. I've seen what the aggressive training does to these athletes, and I've seen the effects disappear once they retire from the sport. Maybe some people don't realize they spend several hours every day training to be more aggressive and hit harder. I don't think college or professional sports teams take enough responsibility for the monsters they help create. I'm not saying that football or lacrosse are bad sports and shouldn't be played. I'm just saying that no one has ever held coaches or administrators responsible when violent aggression leaves the field. Nothing is done to prevent it. I wonder if they've even thought of trying. Maybe some drills of turning the aggression on and off? So that they learn to control it better? Never even been attempted, as far as I know. It's all about on-field results with absolutely no regard for off-field side effects.