While both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Police Special Fraud Unit (SFU) are busy chasing fraudsters all over the country and beyond, the scammers are also busy devising new ways and methods of perpetrating their heinous crimes.

Their  mode of operation varies from one scheme to another, each with a uniqueness that is appalling, if not dumbfounding. What seems to be one of their devious ways of extorting money from their unsuspecting victims found its way into our mail box recently.  First, the S.O.S letter below was sent to this writer’s mail box. purportedly from Vanguard Correspondent in Abia State, Anayo Okoli through his authentic mail box.
It reads:

(1): Please help urgently!!!?
Date: Sun, 4 Apr 2010 10:57:44 +0000
From: [email protected]
Subject: Please help urgently!!!
To: [email protected]
Hope you get this on time. Sorry I did not inform you about my sudden trip to Kent Dover UK for a programme .I am presently stranded here and urgently require your kind favour soon. I hope you come to my aid. Last night I got mugged at gun point on my way to the hotel where I lodged. They went away with all I have got including my wallet where I have all my cash and credit card and also my cell phone. I wasn’t injured because I quickly complied.

My travelling documents are been apprehended by the hotel management because of my inability to pay bills. I reported to the police and they only asked me to write a statement about the incident and later referred me to the embassy.

I contacted our embassy here but they are not responding effectively to the matter. I am confused and so full of panic right now. For now, I do not have a phone where I can be reached. All I have got here is my mail. I also have limited access to the computer.

Please I need you to Kindly loan me about (1,450 Pounds) to sort_out my hotel bills and other expenses incurred here and get back home soon as I do not feel safe here anymore. I Promise to refund your money immediately I return home.

I will explain full details to you when I get back. I will appreciate any amount you can quickly arrange and send to me via Western Union or Money Gram with the details below.

Receivers Names: Anayo Okoli
Receivers Address/location: 83A HIGH STREET
Ashford, KENT TN24 8SA

Write to me the full details of the transfer or scanned copy of the transfer receipt so that I can receive over here quickly.

Let me know if you can be of any help soon because you are the only person I can reach at this moment and the next flight back home departs in about few hours.
Get back to me ASAP.

Kind Regards,   Anayo

As soon as I received the mail, I made concerted efforts to get him on his cell phone without success.  I then assumed that he must have embarked on such a trip unofficially.  I then replied the letter thus;

___ On Sat, 17/4/10, Emmanuel Nnadozie <[email protected]> wrote:

From: Emmanuel Nnadozie <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Please help urgently!!!
To: [email protected]
Date: Saturday, 17 April, 2010, 6:57

I have been in the hospital for about two weeks now.  I just got this mail and I cannot make any meaning out of it.  Are you the one that is stranded and how far have you gone, Emma
Then came this reply;

From:     ANAYO OKOLI ([email protected])
Sent:     Sun 4/18/10 12:14 AM
To:     Emmanuel Nnadozie ([email protected])
Dear Emma,
Thanks for your understanding and kind response, I knew I could confide in you that was why I actually wrote you. I was confused when I didn’t hear back from you earlier. Your mail has brought me a huge relief.  Believe me, it has been a very sad experience for me in foreign land.  Just want you to come to my aid, Any amount which you are able to raise will help a lot because I know you also need money for your own personal needs.

I also want you to put me in prayers so that I can get home safely because that matters most. I feel so helpless and rejected at the moment. I promise to repay any amount you are able to raise.     I do not want to cause a panic or create an unnecessary scene that is why I have not called the house.  This is embarrassing enough.

Please once you get the money transferred, Kindly help me scan a copy of the transfer receipt or help me write out the transfer details and get back to me quickly.
My hopes in you.   Anayo Okoli

I made more efforts to get Anayo on phone without success but something kept on telling me that there are missing links in the request.  First, Anayo did not show much sympathy at my plight of having been in the hospital for two weeks.

Secondly, I wondered why he has not been able to find a way out after about two weeks he wrote the first urgent letter to me.  The situation was compounded by the fact that I did not see any of his stories from his base within this period.  I then concluded that I must authenticate the mail and I wrote

From:     Emmanuel Nnadozie ([email protected])
Sent:     Mon 4/19/10 1:56 PM
To:     Anayo Okoli ([email protected])
You need to call me on phone to authenticate this mail.  You must also tell me the name of our colleague and friend in Vanguard that joined NEPA union few years back.

That was how the antics of the tricksters were finally nailed.  I was sure that it is only the real Anayo Okoli  that will supply the right answer to the name of our staff that joined NEPA years back. Surprisingly, after sending this letter, I made another call and got Anayo on his line.  He then quickly told me how many of his friends received such mail and were calling to authenticate the story.

He vehemently denied knowledge of such mail stating that he did not travel out of the country.  He also said he had since changed his e-mail address and advised his friends and acquaintances to ignore such mails.    Meanwhile, because the fraudsters could not unravel the poser, they stopped sending mails to me.  So, beware of such mails.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.