o brother where art thou

From a Kindly Contributor going by Rev. Gilbert Tawdry:

I received an email from a friend's email claiming that he was in North Wales and had been robbed. Knowing that the friend was currently in Boston and his email had been hijacked by scammers, I immediately contacted him. Unfortunately, he could not get the word out quick enough and one of his friends fell for the scam.

Knowing that he would never go to North Wales, that he has a MA in English Literature so his English is always meticulous, and that tracing the sending IP address to Nigeria immediately convinced me that it was a scam. I then pretended to be a fellow reverend who knew him well and who was solicitous to help. I then used the old tricks of sending out fake MCTN numbers; claiming my failing eyesight (which he knew about) caused me to misread the numbers; and changing the sender's name to his full baptismal name (which he should know but could not admit not knowing) in order to prevent him from checking the MCTN number online.

Finally, after bribing the Western Union official several times to check the MCTN number for him and being made a fool of (public humiliation is a bigger fear than anything in West Africa), I sent him two insulting emails invoking the same themes: public humiliation, divine punishment for his sins, and public knowledge of his foolishness (...a "fighting word" in West Africa).

I used a fake email address to play this out, of course.

Scamorama wouldn't know about the fear of public humiliation in West Africa versus anywhere else, but the following scambait is good stuff ;-}


Brother John, scammer du jour, masquerading as, er, Brother John
Brother Bob, a seeming kindred spirit of Brother Mark (of the Church of the Sultans of Swing), whose adventures appear in multiple on this site, and Reverend Bob (no relation) Church of the Blessed Beehive

Here is how it played out:

Scammer (pretending to be Fr John)

10/21/2010 9:36 AM

Urgent help Needed!!!

This had to come in a hurry and it has left me in a devastating state.I'm in some terrible situation and I'm really going to need your urgent help.I came down here to North Wales, United Kingdom for a short vacation. unfortunately,i was mugged at the park of the hotel where i stayed,all cash and credit card and cellphone was stolen off me but luckily for me i still have my passports with me.I've been to the Embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and My flight leaves in few hours from now but i'm having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let me leave until i settle the bills. Well I really need your financially assistance..Please, let me know if you can help me out? Am freaked out at the moment!!


A quick 'google' on the specific text "unfortunately,i was mugged at the park of the hotel" produced over 45,000 results. Even allowing for some false positives, this is impressive.

Fr Bob

Fr Bob to the rescue (playing the innocent child):

Date: Sat, 23 Oct 2010 19:23:01 -0400 Subject: help

Dear Fr John:

I was so distressed when I heard your sad news. I was away at a church conference and I was only able to read my email once I arrived back. How can I help?

Fr Bob
"Fr John"

Gives me a fake address (checked it on the Internet):

Hello Fr John,

Thanks so much for responding back to my message and your great concern about us,I am so sorry not to have informed you before leaving for my trip, but i guess you could understand my plight at the moment.I have nothing left on me and I'm grateful to God that i still have my life and passport cos it would have been worst if they made away with my passport.Honestly,I would have love to call but I have no access to a cell nor even a cent for a pay phone. well I need you to loan me $980 and you can have it wired to me via Western Union. Here's my info below

Name: John Clarke
Location: 110, Coriander Avenue,Gwynedd, North Wales,United Kingdom

Please get back to me as soon as you have the money sent,promise to refund it as soon as i get back hopefully tomorrow.Here is the hotel manager's cell # +447024083642

I will be waiting for your help. Thank you so much

Best Regards
Fr John.

You'd think he'd want pounds, but oh well.

Fr Bob sends him "money" via Western Union. The manager's phone has been disconnected. Change the money order: sender's name is now Fr John's full baptismal name (which the real one would know but an imposter would not) and which prevents him from checking the MCTN online. Plus, the test answer is one that only the real one would know.

Fr Bob

Sun, Oct 24, 2010 at 4:35 PM

I was unable to get your manager by his cell phone (number invalid). I sent the $980 by Western Union. The MCTN is 9236714784 and I then changed the sender's name to your full baptismal name, First Name Middle Names Last Name. The test question is "What neighborhood did you grow up in?".

Let me know when you receive it.

Fr Bob
"Fr John"

Scammer claims to have gone to a Western Union office where they have connections or bribe the officials to check the MCTN number using their system. Surprise! It is not valid.

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Hello Fr Bob..Are you kidding me?i was told at the western union office here that the money transfer control number is not valid.let me know what is going on.keep me posted!
Fr Bob '

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 6:37 PM

Dear Fr John:

My eyes are not what they are used to ever since my eye surgery a few years back, as you remember.. I will have my secretary, when she comes, check the MCTN number again to be sure that what I gave you was the correct one.

What Western Union office did you use? Are you sure that when checking that you used your full baptismal name, including all of your middle names? My uncle, who was present at your baptism, mentioned that your parents loved to give you a long moniker, including several middle names, in order not to offend any member of their family.

Fr Bob

"his full baptismal names" - which the scammer knows nothing of

Fr Bob

Try to get the name of the Western Union office he is supposed to be using. Scammer is too lazy to do an Internet search to find a plausible name and location and he also fears exposure.

Dear Fr John:

What Western Union office near Gwynedd are you using? If you give me their name and location, I could call them to handle any problem that arises.

My secretary finally arrived. She told me that I misread the MCTN number. It is not 9236714784, which I misread, but it is actually 9238714784. The sender name remains your full baptismal name and the test question is the same.

Let me know when you receive the funds.

Fr Bob
"Fr John"

..another wasted trip to Western Union with the "corrected" number...

Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 5:24 AM

Hello Fr Bob,

Please i kindly advice you to go get the money you said you sent.as i can't be stressing my self over nothing,i have been made jest of here as the Mtcn# u provided is not valid.if you can't have the money wired to the information i emailed you,then don't bother sending anything to me.thanks for your time and help.
God bless,
Fr John

Fr Bob

... sends an important letter (scanned) from Western Union to explain why the MCTN numbers are fake.

Dear Fr John:

When I heard about all the trouble that you received as a result of wrong MCTN numbers, I was outraged. I immediately went to Western Union and demanded an explanation. They printed out this letter which I scanned and I am sending to you in order to explain what had happened and why you did not receive the proper MCTN number.

Fr Bob

rude picture

Fr Bob

Aspiring scambaiters, please note: Fr Bob's final email covers all the psychological hot buttons.

Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Well, monkey-brains. Apparently, you need not worry about being made a fool of because you already are one. Just another bingo mama muhu 419 fraudster in league with crooked Western Union officials in Nigeria.

The story that you sent about being stranded in North Wales was scripted and hardly believable. Your poor use of English in emails gave you away immediately. Plus, all emails originated with the IP address being in Nigeria, when supposedly you were stranded in Wales, immediately confirmed the scam.

Since you could not check the MCTN number online because you did not know the sender's full name. If you were the real Fr John, you obviously would know your full baptismal name and could check it but since you were a poor imposter, you could neither check it nor could you admit that you did not know your own name. The only solution would be to go to a Western Union office where you had connections or, as is more often the case, being able to bribe them in order to check the MCTN number. After a few trips there, they obviously tired of your foolishness and started to mock you as the fool that you are. Oh, dear. "Please i kindly advice you to go get the money you said you sent.as i can't be stressing my self over nothing,i have been made jest of here as the Mtcn# u provided is not valid"

We live but a short life. What we do in this life,whether honest or dishonest, is judged after we die and we spend eternity paying for our sins.

Thanks for the laughs. By the way, I posted this on the Internet so others may enjoy it as well.

Lots of love,
Fr Bob