No doubt you are aware of what are known as “419” scams. Emails that begin with things like “I am the widow of the former President of Nigeria,” and then promise you a fee of millions of dollars for arranging some transaction. [Read here about a woman who lost $400,000 to a Nigerian scammer!] There is also a whole cadre of devoted people who spend inordinate amounts of time and energy scamming the scammers back. This is a particularly hilarious account of one such scheme, where a man named Arthur Dent manages to convince the scammer to copy all of a Harry Potter book out in longhand and send the scanned pages to him. It is particularly gratifying to read the exchange as the scammer becomes more and more desperate.
From 419 Eater [This is the first reply by Arthur Dent to the scammer’s email]:
From: Arthur Dent
To: Barrister Musa Issah
Date: January 23, 2006
Dear Mr. Issah,
Thank you very much for you interesting email, it was kind of you to contact me with your proposition.
Unfortunately I am not in a position to help you at this point in time as my company are conducting a very important 4 year long research project on Advanced Handwriting Recognition and Graphology systems.
Our work is extremely intensive and vitally important for our clients. They have committed over eight million dollars to our project and we are nearing the final stages. After nearly 4 years of research and development we are now only three months away from the conclusion and I am afraid I can allow nothing to interfere with the project until its completion.
We are always looking for paid volunteers to help with our project. If you are aware of anyone who would like to earn money by helping with our project by providing samples of their own handwriting to us then please do read the submission information below. We pay US $100.00 per page of handwriting samples.
Arthur Dent BSC. HHGTTG. PhD.
Read the rest here.