God bless you, Major Abacha Tunde
In football, it was watching George Best. In clothing, it was buying your first Cromby coat. In seafood, it’s eating pan-fried scallops (although what else you’d fry them in I don’t know.)
And now we have the ultimate con trick – the day the Nigerian email scammers jumped the shark.
Now I’m sure we’ve all been targeted by these ever-optimistic entrepreneurs. Usually you find a message in your inbox informing you that you’ve won $35 million in an internet lottery that you hadn’t even entered. Either that or your assistance is required in extracting £637 million from the bank account of a deceased businessman and whose complicated legacy can only be resolved with your help.
Either way, you’ll find at some point that you’ll be asked to send off your bank details, usually with an ‘administration payment’ of anything up to several thousands of pounds, at which point ‘the lottery’ will cease to exist and the ‘deceased businessman’ will rise, Lazarus-like, from the grave, and run off to buy a new goat or a BMW with the contents of your savings account.
Amazingly, some people still fall for this sort of thing, mostly old ladies who live alone and for whom the postman’s visit is a reason for pleasure, not penury, and for whom a hand-written letter still carries more weight than a misspelt email. So eager are some of these mad old bats to empty their bank accounts that they often have several scammers bleeding them dry at any one time, and are consequently doomed to a life of huddling in front of a one-bar electric fire and eating cat food.
Other people, tired of the constant appeals for assistance from Mrs Celestina Tombola (still my favourite scammer name) actually engage with the enemy with the intent of having them perform increasingly stupid acts. Have a look at the hilarious website http://www.419eater.com/ and you’ll see what I mean.
But all good things must come to an end. This week I received the scam email to end all scam emails. In abbreviated and uncorrected form, it read as follows:“I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo.“There have been occasional supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.“In the 14-years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost $15,000,000 American Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth.“I am told this will cost $3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the trust fund we need your assistance …”
I think you know where it goes from here.
So there we have it – a top secret African astronaut, stranded in space, condemned to circle the Earth for ever unless I stump up three grand (in exchange for 20 per cent of the trust fund, of course). I have to admit that I laughed until I cried.
So God bless you, Abacha Tunde. You will be forever in my thoughts. Altogether now: “Ground Control to Major Con …”
I HAVEN’T indulged in mind-altering drugs for … ooh … at least two decades. But when I suddenly woke up from a post-lunch snooze in front of the television on Sunday I thought I’d been back on the LSD.
All I could see was that London bus blown up by terrorists only with privet hedge replacing mangled bodies, dancing scrotes, a punk in a wheelchair, lots of umbrellas and bowler hats, all performed to a jazzed-up soundtrack of Greensleeves and Jerusalem - it was like watching Mary Poppins on acid.
And then a reality TV show winner and a wrinkly, pony-tailed rocker appeared from nowhere and David bloody Beckham knocked a Korean pole-vaulter over by kicking a football at him. I tell you what - if anti-drugs campaigners made impressionable teenagers sit watching that on a loop, they’d never touch anything stronger than Lemsip for the rest of their lives.
It was only when Boris came on, bumbling for Britain, hands in his pockets and his shirt tail no doubt flapping beneath his unbuttoned jacket, that I realised I was watching the Beijing 2008 closing ceremony. I suppose at least he didn’t have anyone’s eye out when he was waving the flag.
So was our embarrassing eight-minute slot a welcome antidote to the relentlessly and ruthlessly organised Chinese? Or a forewarning of the further humiliation to come? I’m hoping for the best, but I’m fearing the worst.