While reading this post
I was reminded about the series of Nigerian email scams that were rampant a few years ago. Reportedly, many people lost their entire life savings to these scams. For those of you who don't know what a Nigerian scam is, here's what it looks like
. Now these scams not always perpetrated by Nigerians, although a significant proportion of them have been found to originate from Nigeria. Hence the popular nickname "Nigerian scam".
A couple of years ago I was in Benares, India, staying at a Theravada monastery for a family trip to the Buddhist sites in upper India and Nepal. We stayed for three weeks so we got to know the monks and the abbot. If you visit there during the cool seasons it's very pleasant and peaceful in the mornings. Walking around the remains of ancient Buddhist monasteries in India on a cold, dark, and quiet misty morning is nothing short of surreal. The vegetarian food served at local restaurants is dirt cheap (for first-world citizens) and fragrantly delicious, if you like spicy Indian food. I never missed meat once during the three weeks I was there. Highly recommend going on an unguided self tour to historical Buddhist sites
in Benares, Bodh Gaya, Kushinagar, Rajgir, Nalanda, Vesali, and the ones in Nepal across the border. Some local Theravadan monasteries have English speaking monks who can tell you where to visit and how to get there. Every monk I met was fluent in the local language of Hindi and they were kind enough to talk to the non-English speaking drivers to arrange trips for us.
Anyway, the abbot had received an email which was allegedly from a young girl aged 12 to 14 whose rich parents had died. According to this email, she was to inherit a lump sum of £10,000,000 (ten million Great Britain pounds) but she had no bank account and her relatives were threatening to take some of the money. In the email, she described her unfortunate circumstances and mentioned that she had come to hear of the abbot as a "trusted benefactor" to whom she wanted to temporarily transfer this sum of money for temporary safekeeping. The e-mail, as is the case with many scams, was written in an excessively polite and pitiful tone. At the end of the email was a polite request for the abbot's bank details and phone number.
Now I reckon there are two types of people who would fall for this scam: the stupid greedy person who plans on taking the ten million pounds for himself, and the compassionate idiot.
The abbot replied with his mobile number. You can guess which type of person I judged the abbot for when he told me this.
But I assume the abbot didn't have a bank account, and besides I realized he was indeed skeptical of the whole thing when he put the caller on speaker phone and asked me to listen to the entire conversation between him and the barrister who presented himself as being based in London. I remember it went something like this:Scammer, in thick African male accent: "... No, you email me your bank details and then I wire transfer you the money from my office in London."
Abbot: "But like I said, I want to meet you and talk to you first before I do the transfer."
Scammer: "No, that is not how we work. Besides, we are in London and you are in India. If you give me your bank details then we promptly transfer the ten million pounds to your bank account in India."
Abbot: "Actually my associate is waiting for you at Heathrow airport (lie). He will give you my bank details after talking with you."
Scammer: "No (more forceful this time), like I said that is now how we work. We only work online. If you give us your bank details we can—"
Abbot: "I want to talk to you first before doing any of this. Please meet my associate at Heathrow Airport so that—"
Scammer: "You know what, you're too talkative. You talk too much. Not working with you."
Abbot: "I talk too much?"
Scammer: "Yeah, you talk too much. No money for you. No money for you."
Abbot: "I don't think I talk too much. YOU talk too much!"
Scammer: "Yeah, bye. Bye. You talk too much."
Abbot: "No, YOU talk too much!"
It was fun watching the abbot have a bit of fun.