How a single email scam netted over $400,000

17 November 2008

So when it recently came to light that spammers have to send over 12 million emails to find one gullible fool who'll sign up to whatever they're selling, the question that came to mind was "who was that idiot, then?". Step forward registered nurse Jenella Spears of Sweet Home, Oregon who was duped to the tune of over $400,000.

How the blithering hell do find yourself emptying your husband’s retirement account and re-mortgaging the house for the sake of a spammer? All it took was the name of Spears' grandfather to start the ball rolling. An email arrived from the Nigerien government (where else?), promising to cough up $20 million left behind by grandpops J.B. Spears, with whom the family had lost contact over the years.

To begin with, $100 was requested. Then the amount of money on offer jumped to nearly $27 million and the payments requested by the Nigerian government leaped up as well. Official-looking letters from both the Nigerian and US Governments were bandied about when Spears got cold feet. Payment after payment was requested, each one promised to be the last, moving Spears closer to the belief that she'd be a multi-millionaire and able to dig herself out the ever-deepening financial hole. Spears bought into the scam for over two years, despite friends and family pleading with her to walk away.

The story only came to light when a newspaper reporter attended a conference on financial crime, and found the Oregon Department of Justice using the case as a teaching tool. The reporter requested an interview, and Spears agreed to go public in the hope of warning other people not to be so mind-staggeringly stupid.

Meanwhile there's a three year-old party in a Nigerian pub where the bar is still free and people spend all day rolling around naked in dollar bills.


TOPICS:   Scams


  • David P.
    For plenty of hilarious and entertaining stories of "scam-baiting" the scammers in Nigeria, have a look at:
  • susan a.
    can you believe this woman? it looks like she has a website asking for money!!!

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