|This is a spin-off from How to become rich dotcom, which
concerns my increasing fame and immense wealth. It's really jolly interesting.|
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
|What is a foff?|
Foff is my abbreviation for Friend of Fellow, (FofF), the fellow being myself. It could also be seen as an abbreviation of a very impolite English way of saying "please go away", but Iím generally so polite that itís sickening. Others might think it means fraudulent offers. Various ideas inspired the word.
Foffs are the originators of fraudulent business offers and are trying to steal money. They offer many millions. Sooner or later, theyíll ask for thousands in advance, which is why this style of con is known as Advance Fee Fraud. The millions donít exist. The thousands are yours and youíre meant to lose them.
|Where did they get my e-mail address?|
I donít know, but it probably wasnít from the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce. Addresses are collected at random from guestbooks, staff directories or wherever they might be found.
|Who are these foffs?|
Mostly, but not always, theyíre people from Africa. Because the English used is often somewhere between mildly original and painfully funny, some might assume that theyíre idiots. Wrong! Remember whoís managing to make money from these junk e-mails. Generally, these messages are sent by people who are not native-English speakers. I donít know what your grasp of African languages is like, but mineís virtually non-existent. As I've been reliably informed, that's typical of us oyimbos.
|What are your relevant qualifications and can I trust your advice?|
I havenít got any relevant qualifications and donít advise people to rely upon my opinions. For financial concerns, consult your bank or accountant. For legal matters, visit a consumer protection agency or a solicitor. If you have sincere concerns for your personal safety, inform the police.
|Iíve received an offer concerning x million dollars. Is it genuine and what
should I do?|
Itís not genuine. You should ignore it. You could also contact the Internet Service Provider who delivered it. This will be shown in the e-mail address. Send a copy with the headers to abuse@(the ISP).com. They enjoy closing the accounts down. You could also contact the police.
Replying to the foff is not recommended. If you intend to anyway, set up a separate e-mail account under an assumed name, and do not reveal any personal information. Lie your head off.
|While most are frauds, how do I know this one isn't genuine?|
Evolution has equipped you with one of the most effective brains in the world. Use it.
|Can't you produce a list of things to look out for?|
I could, but it would also be a list advising foffs of what not to write. That would be useful for producing more effective fraudulent messages. As just stated, evolution has equipped you with one of the most effective brains in the world. Use it.
|Are foffs con-artists?|
Certainly, (though some of the stories are so incompetently constructed, that maybe a few are simply mucking around).
|How much money are you making from these scams?|
|Why did you send me that ridiculous message?|
|I accidentally gave them my office phone number and am slightly worried. What
should I do?|
Stay completely calm and do nothing. Maybe they'll ring you up. Thatís not so bad, though it may get slightly annoying.
You might think through some scenarios of how to respond. You could hang up, which is the easiest method. You might tell him to stop being silly, or claim to be your personal secretary and say youíre in a conference. Why not tell him youíre George Bush, rather busy at the moment, and have never heard of yourself? Or speak Chinese. If itís a large office, introduce him to your colleagues; all of them.
If youíre feeling slightly bored, you could also pretend to be some historical or fictional character, try to sell him life insurance or attempt to convert him to The Holy Fellowship of Ug. If very bored, try all three together! Another possibility is to ask him to hold the line, wander off for a cup of coffee, a pizza and a game of golf, come back five hours later and then hang up. Heíll stop calling. Itíd get expensive.
|Are they dangerous criminals?|
In some cases, I wouldnít be at all surprised. When thereís illegal money to be made, violent people are attracted. To be on the safe side, assume yes. Itís better to be safe than slurry, (beaten to a pulp).
ZD Net News, Six arrested over ĎNigerian e-mail fraudí, 21.5.02
This reported case from South Africa includes indications of drug dealing. Iíve have come across claims of kidnap and even murder.
However, as far as I can gather, most foffs arenít natural born killers. More usually, theyíre young men with not much money, and not many prospects. Cyber cafes in Lagos apparently charge a dollar an hour, which is ample time to send a lot of e-mails.
A few of the participants are actually wealthy, and this isn't necessarily due to successful foffing. Money is the primary motivation but, as with fishing, many people find the activity fun.
BBC, Nigeria grapples with e-mail scams, 22.4.02
As this is important, it bears repeating: stay safe and assume your foff is potentially violent. If you should arrange a meeting, DONíT turn up under any circumstances, (except perhaps after consultation with the police).
|Why are you making excuses for these criminals, you naÔve fool? Povertyís no
excuse for crime.|
Iím not. Read again. Furthermore, there are worse things to be than a naÔve fool.
|I've just been informed I've won a million dollars / euros /
pounds in a lottery, but I didn't buy a ticket. What's going on?|
It's nothing to worry about. Someone's only trying to rob you. This is a variation on the same theme. You'd have to pay some 'expenses' at some stage, and your money would disappear.
|Do they really make money from these schemes?|
Yes. Some people pay the non-existent advance-fees demanded. It also wouldnít surprise me to learn that major foffs make a pretty good income by cheating minor foffs; computer access, phone rental, supplying addresses and fake documents, impersonating officials etc. I have no evidence for this. However, which is the most effective way of profiting from a gold rush; digging for gold or selling spades at inflated prices?
David Ashenfelter, Detroit Free Press, 21.9.2002
|Hi. Despite having enjoyed the benefits of an extensive
education and being in a highly paid job, I'm a cretin. I received an offer from someone
or other and nearly sent him thousands of my hardly earned dollars because he had a nice
smile. An acquanitance (I don't have any friends for some reason) sat me down in front of
a shotgun, and suggested I check out that guy's name in the web.|
That's how I found your so called 'humour' page. It then finally dawned on me that this guy was trying to rob me. I looked at the Frequently Asked Questions and discovered there's a lot of this going on. My question is this. People are being robbed out there. How dare you write humour on the subject? Why don't you get off your fat arse and do something about this? I'm so angry, I'm going to rant on about this for many hours. Don't you dare put the phone down on me. Now listen here...
I agree completely. You are a cretin. Have a good rant.
|Your page is very funny. Would you consider producing an article for our
magazine, newsletter etc?|
I'm pleased you asked. Yes.
|Your page is very funny. Can I nick some of the content please?|
|My foff sent a link to a genuine bank's homepage, and the manager there confirmed his
story. Surely this must be true.|
This is a supposedly genuine homepage of a bank in South Africa:
The Chartered Investment Trust Bank
However, it's a fake and is hosted by a free Nigerian Internet Service Provider. As suggested, foffs aren't stupid. Some can do good fakes. (With thanks to N Amato for the research.)
|Do you want to help me catch my foff?|
No. Iím not the police.
BBC, Warning over Nigerian mail scam, 10.7.01
(Quote: But Nigerian High Commissioner Bola Ajibola said the people falling for the scam were as culpable as the fraudsters.
"It is unfortunate that we have some of these gullible people who can easily get targeted with the idea of a lot of money somewhere," he said.
"I think it is not only stupid for people to do that but they are what we call "criminous participants", they are also criminals themselves.")
I have discussed this, confidentially and avoiding specifics, with one of my foffs. He said he looked on this fraud as revenge upon rich scammers, whoíd cheated his parents. Maybe that was just a way of rationalizing away guilt, assuming he felt any, the truth or a straight lie. Iíve no way of knowing. Be that as it may, these messages are usually invitations to rob some of the poorest countries on earth. If someone with a reasonably comfortable standard of living is prepared to participate with such an activity, and they end up getting stung for thousands of dollars, then I think the Nigerian High Commissioner is correct: "they are also criminals themselves". Hopefully, they might gain some humility and honesty from the experience, unpleasant and expensive though it might have been.
The wealthy usually have lawyers and financial advisors. They have protection available. Most people are less well-off and more vulnerable, especially if theyíre up to their necks in debt and worry. I have received several e-mails from people in difficult circumstances, who claimed they were on the verge of being sucked further into the mire, courtesy of their foffs. To their credit, they had the initiative to do some background research of their own, and stumbled across my page. If this really helped them avoid a terrible mistake, then thatís satisfying.
Crimes of Persuasion
|Why havenít you addressed such and such a question?|
Perhaps Iím not qualified to or have never thought about it. If you think something should be added to this FAQ, or something altered, Iím open to suggestions.
|Do you really get asked these questions frequently?|
Some more frequently than others, but yes. I also receive occasional insults from people who somehow conclude that I'm sending all these strange offers out, making an enormous stack of money and posting the diary of my ill doings on the web, so humanity can see how rich I now am.
|What? Show me.|
No. Deranged or not, I've treated such messages as private. However, I might include such material in the future, should somebody prove amusingly obnoxious enough. A couple have been tempting.
|Mugu? What do these West African slang words mean?|
Federal Government College Odogbolu Dictionary of slang
Babawilly's Dictionary of Pidgin English Words and Phrases
|Does that mean 'How to Become Rich Dotcom' is a weapon in the
war upon fraud?|
No. Itís purpose is humour, which is a serious business. Neverthelss, this is where scammers face trial and get laughed at.
If How to Become Rich Dotcom has provided entertainment or warned you from being defrauded,
thanks can be sent via Paypal. As you can work out for yourself, this site costs time and
money to keep on-line. A generous heart doesn't pay the bills. Please support a humble
humourist providing free access to information for all. The correct e-mail address to use
|What's the rest of your site about?|
The homepage contains a collection of material on diverse themes.
How to Become Rich Dotcom: a humorous treatment of a
Mesozoic Mammals etc: a non-scientific fanzine concerning
mammals and protomammals (collectively known as eucynodonts) of long ago.
Welcome to Dipwytch!
"What about those lotteries?"
"This whole section seems to be an advert."
|WANTED: A LITERARY AGENT AND / OR
How to Become Rich Dotcom is a free and independent webpage dedicated to humour. Over the years, it's inadvertently enabled some people to avoid being conned, and that's fine. No donations are sought, though messages of thanks are welcome and confidential.
However, I'd like to adapt some of the contents into a book. As you've been able to read
for yourself, it's funny. Should you happen to be a kindly and loving literary agent or
publisher, I'd be happy to hear from you. Or if you're a mean and hateful one, that'd be
Should any of the contributors wish to discuss matters of copyright, please report to your local police station for arrest.