Have you ever wondered what happens if you answer to those annoying spam emails? No, not the type about penis enlargement – that strangely enough, dropped to a minimum for me a couple of years ago. I suspect some algorithm knows I got married in 2015.
I am more talking about all those “you will get rich, famous, and whatever else – just send us a little bit of cash first”. I know – many of you are thinking: “come on now, who would be so stupid as to send money to a perfect stranger just because they claim in an email they can make our life better?”
Well, as it turns out: lots of people do, actually. Reportedly, it’s a global business worth more than 10 BILLION US dollars (that’s right, “Billions” with a B) every year.
In Australia, Competition and Consumer Commission does a very good job in monitoring the reports, and this is what the situation looks like so far in 2017:
Plus, these are only the reported frauds.
It probably means there is much more going on under the radar: people who are too embarrassed to report the crime to authorities, or too naive to even understand what was going on. This particular type of scam is called “Nigerian” because it’s mainly perpetrated by people living in Nigeria, or West Africa.
In my particular case, it was Ghana – even if by tracking the IP of the first message, the location was shown as Canada. Probably a VPN.
There is a famous TED talk by James Veitch which describes a similar situation in a very funny way.
But I wanted to see for myself. I was inspired and curious.
And at last, I got my opportunity when I found in the (spam) comments of my blog a particular message that was simply too good to ignore.
JOIN THE BROTHERHOOD OF ILLUMINATI.
TO BE RICH , FAME, AND POSSES POWER .email us direct on email@example.com) for immediate initiation, New members registration is open online now !!!
BENEFITS GIVEN TO NEW MEMBERS WHO JOIN ILLUMINATI .
1). A Cash Reward of $300,000.00.
2). A New Sleek Dream CAR valued at $120,000.00.
3). A Dream House bought in the country of your own choice.
4). One Month holiday ( fully paid ) to your dream tourist destination.
5). One year Golf Membership package.
6). A V.I.P treatment in all Airports in the World.
7). A total Lifestyle change.
8). Access to Bohemian Grove.
9). Monthly payment of $1,000,000 into your bank account every 2 months as a member.
10). One Month booked Appointment with Top 5 world Leaders and Top 5 Celebrities in the World.
If you are interested, send your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your time as we await your response.
Absolutely brilliant. I loved everything about it!
So – I answered. I have to admit, I was a little nervous at first. Will I end in trouble?
But then I thought, what could they really do? I was using an email account I normally use for online games and random stuff (don’t ask), so what did I have to lose? I decided it was worth trying, maybe there was a story there.
And there was! What follows is the full report of the 3 days conversation I had with my soon-to-be Brethren Illuminati. Not only it’s great fun: my hope is that this report will remain as a warning to people who might be thinking “what if it’s true?” (short answer: no, not at all).
My first email had a title that left very little space to doubt: “I am ready for the initiation ritual”.
And then I was waiting. Will they answer? Will they not? Will I get some virus that will make my computer explode? But finally I got this:
The game was on! Apparently they were motivated to make sure my intentions were serious, asking a lot of personal information. I answered with no hesitation:
The data are all fake, of course. Giuseppe Taglialatela was a Napoli goalkeeper in the early 90s.
I decided to use the name of a real character – if the real Giuseppe ever reads this: I am sorry, didn’t mean any harm – to test them, in a way. Would they google my data to verify it? They didn’t. They have absolutely nothing.
I received the Terms and Conditions (incredible how much time and effort someone must have put in writing them). If you don’t care to read, skip it entirely and go to the next part of the post. Some parts are hilarious, though, like the part where I have to give up my basic human rights (Section 1), or all the secret agent stuff in section 8.
Terms And Conditions of Joining The ILLUMINATI.
If you’re 17 years and below do not agree to these terms, you should not review any information or obtain any documents. This legacy is strictly for “Above 17 years of age”. so please review these terms carefully:
By joining, you hereby give up authority to your: basic human rights, as defined by the United Nations charter; creative control, as defined by jurors (which may be given back at any time, as applicable); financial control, including charitable acts, donations and investments; public relations, including family associations, allegiance and social associations; living space, including location of residence, and conduction of business; and travel, including local state travel. Should you decide to leave, you must contact your recruitment manager with valid reason. Your leave will be decided by a recruitment manager, at their discretion. The current retirement rate in 2013 rests at 1.08%. Agendas, plans and all other goals, and current involvement will be terminated upon initiation.
Upon review of your application, an admission councilor will run a full background check that includes all activity on: forums, social networks, previous schools, jobs, houses and affiliations which may extend down your family lineage. Upon initiation, and without warning, content may be deleted for any reason, at any time. After background checks, and you will be interviewed by your assigned recruitment manager, who will assess your situation and talents for placement, as applicable.
Groups, alliances, teams and legions who wish to remain together after initiation must state so in their individual applications, and are given no guarantees or immunity if they are separated upon initiation. This applies to all groups even after initiation, according to Section 1, which may be split at any time for any reason, at the discretion of their recruitment manager, after approval from council members.
Should the member refuse allegiance upon initiation, member is subject to penalty based on the discretion of council members. Should he be granted immunity, he may no longer peruse life in any of the 193 members of the UN under Illuminati jurisdiction, and will be provided refuge elsewhere, or otherwise at the discretion of the council members.
Although placement is not random, you may not receive your desired placement, which does not grant you immunity prior to initiation, which is when the your placement will be revealed to you. Placement will be dependent upon current skills, reputation, mental screenings, medical exams, thorough background checks and interview subject to Section 2.
Succeeding initiation, you will be granted a sum of capital, which will be held on an offshore account and can only be withdrawn from after consultancy with an assigned financial adviser. Dependent upon placement, member may also be entitled to become either: an industry plant, political figure, public activist or a public personality within the six superpower states.
Terms & Conditions are informative and may be changed at any time, without notification or amnesty. Terms & Conditions hold no real value upon court, principal meetings, annual meetings or as appeal to a recruitment manager. Managers are under oath to provide you with the truth about The Order; however, if they deceit, they are fully allowed under The Order Charter.
If your pre – membership application is accepted, your interview will not be held in America. You will receive a hand-delivered confidential package which may include: a new passport, transportation tickets, wireless tracker, cellular device with pre – programmed international access and a copy of your submitted application.
Speech, and all other forms of public communication will be heavily processed after Order manager approval. Managers must contact council to gain approval for speaking on subjects including, but not limited to: NSA, IRS, “Petro-Dollar,” United Nations, European Union, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G-20 Economic Group, the World Court, NATO, Council on Foreign Relations, World Council of Churches, Homeland Security, “Police-State,” Sanctions, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela etc.
Once you agree to the terms and conditions let us know so we proceed with your request.
Awaiting your response
It took me a while to read it all. There are so many things wrong in so many ways! It was clearly a copy / paste job done by some amateur. Now that I knew whom I was dealing with, I decided to play with them a little bit.
Just curious. And they replied:
Always good to know. Also, I found the “brotherhood” thing funny, so I asked:
But I got no answer. And since I wanted to keep my friends in the game for a while, I decided to give them something else:
Time to raise another issue then:
And here I got the feeling they were getting a little pissed:
No answer. Poor them, I must have given them a hard time. So I rekindled the fire a bit:
And what about the money? Let’s annoy them a bit more.
So the dream car was not negotiable. In the sense that it was going to be only in my dreams, probably. Too bad. Then I raised the bar a bit further:
Not a problem!
And then, I shit you not, I got this:
I couldn’t believe my eyes, I couldn’t stop laughing! So I answered:
Time to back off a little, and cause some more trouble:
No answer. So I just faked some signatures and posted it like this:
And I wanted to add something bizarre (I mean, how stupid did they think I was?)
I thought this was maybe pushing it too much. Instead, they answered. They always answered. Their only interest was to keep me hooked.
So THERE it was, the proof. He is an Illuminati, after all. I knew it!
I moved to the next stage.
So finally here it was, the request for money. 1500 eur to “buy some items”. Very expensive items! It was time to play some more games:
All the while I was thinking, who can be so naive to really send these guys the money they ask?
And yet, apparently, a lot of people are. I don’t want to judge, the internet is a big place. Better not to give anything for granted. Anyway, I pushed a bit more.
Candles and cowries (shells)? That’s some very expensive IKEA decorations!
A respectable business man should never close a deal without seeing what he is buying, right?
With 300 thousand dollars as their first payment to me, I don’t know, I found it a bit strange that they badly needed 1,500 euros as advance deposit. Maybe just a temporary shortage of cash.
So now it was time for me to end the game. Or… naaah, let’s push it a little longer?
I wanted to see how far were they willing to go:
As it turned out: they were willing go do anything it took to keep the conversation going. They would answer any request, even the craziest (as if asking about David Hasselhoff wasn’t enough), just to keep in touch. It must be a full time job for these guys, locked in a dark basement somewhere, answering hundreds of random emails, just hoping that once in a while somebody really took the bait.
What, an actual address? Like, a real place? I checked on google maps, and it shows this:
From absurd, it was getting openly crazy. I could literally figure this guy waiting at the corner for the courier to arrive. So I decided to escalate the situation and get to the endgame.
The youtube link leads to a video explaining the “Nigerian Scams” and the Illuminati one in particular. But even this was not enough for them to lose it. The answer was classy and cool.
So I went even more bizarre:
The (fake) receipt I attached is taken from another scam, in Italy, involving (allegedly) the Post. It reads 100 euros but at this point I knew well that my “brethren” were not bothering checking anything I sent them, at all. They just wanted to take the money, and run.
And this is the reply I got. I have to say, this made me laugh, because I could figure the guy (finally) losing his temper a bit.
How to continue? But by going even more into the weird. I decided to “employ” some local help.
And I attached his portrait (fake, of course: I found the picture googling for “African Guy”).
By the way, SCARS (the writing on his hat) is a real organization that tries to contrast online scams.
I thought that maybe giving them little hints would alert them about the game I was playing with them. I wanted to provoke a reaction, but still nothing. They insisted about the payment, again.
Ok this was enough. I have to admit it was getting boring, and I really wanted to wrap it up. I had an ongoing discussion with my facebook contacts, many of which were following the story, commenting and suggesting possible developments. But I felt that by now it was time to see the end credits roll up.
I actually wrote “mic drop” at the end of the email. I have a bit of a taste for a dramatic ending. And I did report the situation, including their mail address, the physical location, their IP and all the personal information they gave me. I doubt that something will really happen, but I trust in the multiplying effect and also on the power of this post.
Maybe somebody will stumble across my story, and think again before sending money.
Anyway, I have to say, these guys have some class. Look at the final answer they sent me, before I definitely blocked their address:
They were just trying to help.
Well, guys, if you made it until the end, thank you for reading! I hope reading this story entertained you – at least as much as I enjoyed it when it was happening – and even more, I hope maybe this information will be useful to somebody, in the future, who will receive a similar email and start thinking “uhmmm, I wonder if this is real?”.
Short answer: NO it’s not. Avoid scams, tell the story, talk to your relatives and friends who maybe are not so internet-wise as to immediately recognize a “Nigerian scam” for what it is: a potentially expensive trap.
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(Edit: if you want to read the other story, when I battled the Dark Gods and Doctor Okojie armed with musical references from the 80s, you can also find it here. Enjoy!)
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