Sunday, November 12, 2017

Most verbose Nigerian 419 message ever

Looking through my Gmail spam folder, I found this gem which I'm calling the "most verbose Nigerian 419 message ever." A Nigerian 419 scam is one where someone wants your help in moving a large amount of money from their country to the U.S. Of course, you will never see a penny of the money; you will lose money instead in paying fees to get the money to you. An alternative name for these scams is "advanced fee fraud."

Note the red flags: The person writing to you is proposing to do something illegal (and it may be illegal if you participate). Even though they are doing something illegal, they are trusting you with a large sum of money (which you could just keep and not pay them a cent). There are general descriptions instead of specific ones ("The Security Firm" Which security firm?). Finally, you have to assume that they only sent one copy of this message and not a million copies.

It is unusual with these scam emails to not have a email or phone number to respond to in the body of the message. So I sent a standard reply. The reply-to address was I will update this post if there is any further information about this.

In replying to this, I am confirming my email address to the scammer (not recommended). They can then sell this to others who may try other schemes to separate you from your money. However, I'm not worried as Gmail has excellent spam filtering and I expect any other messages to go straight to my Spam folder.
Sun, Nov 12, 2017 at 8:01 PM EST
Dear Mr. Graham,

I read your message with interest. As a noted business person, I receive requests like yours frequently. Because of the volume of requests that I receive, I require a minimum of $30 million be involved for my participation. Your proposal falls short.


Bruce Hobbs

Here is the original message, in all its glory (including formatting, spelling and grammatical errors).

Date: Sat, Nov 11, 2017 at 6:42 PM EST


I am Danny Graham of HSBC Bank, United Kingdom . I am contacting you concerning a deceased customer and an investment he placed under our banks management three years ago, and I would respectfully request that you keep the contents of this mail confidential and respect the integrity of the information you come by as a result of this mail. I am contacting you independently of our investigation and no one is informed of this communication. I would like to intimate you with certain facts that I believe would be of interest to you.In the year 2004, the subjects matter; came to our bank to engage in business discussions. He informed us that he had a financial portfolio of Twenty Seven Million three hundred and seventy Thousand United States Dollars, which he wished to have us turn over(invest) on his behalf.

I decided to treat his case personally; I made numerous suggestions in line with my duties as the de-facto chief Intermediary Sales department of the bank, especially given the volume of funds he wished to put into our bank. We met on numerous occasions prior to any investments being placed. I encouraged him to consider various growth funds with prime ratings. The favoured route in my advice to customers is to start by assessing data on 6000 traditional stocks and bond managers and 2000 managers of alternative investments. Based on my advice, we spun the money around various opportunities and made attractive margins for our first months of operation, the accrued profit and interest stood at this point at over One million United States Dollars, this margin was not the full potential of the fund but he desired low risk guaranteed returns on investments.

In November 2005, he asked that the money be liquidated because he needed to make an urgent investment requiring cash payments in Finland . Where he said, he is investing with a Firm that is building a housing estate outside Helsinki for the government of Finland . He directed that I liquidate the investment and deposit the funds with a security firm. I informed him that Custodian trust vault commission would have to make special arrangements to have this done and in order not to circumvent due process, the bank would have to make a 9.5 % deduction from the funds to cater for banking and statutory charges. He complained about the charges but later came around when I explained to him the complexities of the task he was asking of us.

Cash movement across boarders has become especially strict since the incidents of 9/11. I contacted my affiliate and made the funds available to a security firm. I undertook all the processes and made sure I followed his precise instructions to the letter and had the funds deposited with the security firm.The Security Firm is a specialist private firm that accepts deposits from high net worth individuals and blue chip corporations that handle valuable products or undertake transactions that need immediate access to cash. This small and highly private organization is familiar especially to the highly placed and well-connected organizations. In line with instructions, the money was deposited with the security firm. The Customer told me he wanted the money there in anticipation of his arrival from Norway later that week. This was the last communication we had, this transpired around 25th February 2006.In June last year, we got a call from the security firm informing us about the inactivity of that particular po

This was an astounding position as far as I was concerned, given the fact that I managed the private banking sector I was the only one who knew about the deposit at the security firm, and I could not understand why the Customer had not come forward to claim his deposit. I made futile efforts to locate the Customer. I immediately passed the task of locating him to the internal investigations department of Custodian trust vault commission Four days later, information started to trickle in, apparently our client was dead. A person who suited his description was declared dead of a heart attack in canne, in southern part of france . The body was identified and the cause of death was confirmed. The bank immediately launched an investigation into possible surviving next of kin to alert them about the situation and also to come forward to claim his estate. If you are familiar with private banking affairs, those who patronize our services usually prefer anonymity, but also some levels of detachment from conventional

My official capacity dictates that I am the only party to supervise the investigation and the only party to receive the results of the investigation What this means, after investigating the last batch of names forwarded to us as possible relatives, we have come to the conclusion that our dear late fellow died with no known or identifiable family member. This leaves me as the only person with the full picture of what the prevailing situation is in relation to the deposit and the late beneficiary of the deposit. According to practice, The Security Firm will by the end of this year broadcast a request for statements of claim to Custodian trust vault commission, failing to receive viable claims they will most probably revert the deposit back to Custodian trust vault commission. This will result in the money entering the accounting system and the portfolio will be out of my hands and out of the private banking division, HSBC Bank.

This will not happen if I have my way. What I wish to relate to you will smack of unethical practice but I want you to understand something. It is only an outsider to the banking world who finds the internal politics of the banking world aberrational. The world of private banking especially is fraught with huge rewards for those that occupy certain offices and oversee certain portfolios. You should have begun by now to put together the general direction of what I propose. There is Twenty Seven Million three hundred and seventy Thousand United states Dollars deposited in a security firm, I alone have the deposit details and they will release the deposit to no one unless I instruct them to do so. I alone know of the existence of this deposit for as far as Custodian trust vault commission is concerned. The transaction with our late customer concluded when I sent the funds to the security firm, all outstanding interactions in relation to the file are just customer services and du e process. The security Firm has

They are simply awaiting instructions to release the deposit to any party that come forward. This is the situation. This bank has spent great amounts of money trying to track this man's family; they have investigated for months and have found no family. The investigation has come to an end. My proposal; I am prepared to place you in a position to instruct the security Firm to release the deposit to you as the closest surviving relative. Upon receipt of the deposit I am prepared to share the money with you. That is: I will simply nominate you as the next of kin and have them release the deposit to you and share the proceeds with you in a percentage we will arrive at taking into consideration our individual level commitment. I would have gone ahead to ask that the funds be released to me, but that would have drawn a straight line to me and my involvement in claiming the deposit. But presenting you as a relative with the right to claim the deposit as a next of kin will mask my i nvolvement and participation in d

If my offer is of no appeal to you, delete this message and forget I ever contacted you. Do not destroy my career because you do not approve of my proposal. You may not know this but people like myself who have made tidy sums out of comparable situations run the whole private banking sector. I am not a criminal and what I do, I do not find against good conscience, this may be hard for you to understand, but the dynamics of my industry dictates that I make this move. Such opportunities only come ones' way once in a lifetime. I cannot let this chance pass me by, for once I find myself in total control of my destiny. These chances won't pass me by. I ask that you do not destroy my chance, if you will not work with me let me know and let me move on with my life but do not destroy me. I am a family man and this is an opportunity to provide them with new opportunities. There is a reward for this project and it is a task well worth undertaking. I have evaluated the risks and the onl y risk I have here is from you re

Please, again, note I am a family man; I have a wife and children. I send you this mail not without a measure of fear as to what the consequences, but I know within me that nothing ventured is nothing gained and that success and riches never come easy or on a platter of gold. This is the one truth I have learned from my private banking clients. Do not betray my confidence.

Danny Graham
First response from Mr. Graham, if that's his real name. Note that this is a fixed-width message, in contrast to the original which wasn't:

Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 3:43 PM EST

Dear Mr. Bruce,

I received your mail and clearly understand your point. But you should
understand that money is money and no money is a waste. Its an added
advantage no matter what you get out of it. This transaction I
presented to you is over $27million and I think its a good deal for
someone like me who sees this as a golden opportunity to live a much
more comfortable life even though am a banker. I am the assigned case
officer to this deposited funds by the bank all because I facilitate
the process of the deposit with the deceased client with the
institutions he finally kept the funds for safe keeping.

It will be a great deal, if you choose to assist me in this matter and
you being a business man is an added advantage for this to be
successful after I make the presentation in your name. I am here for
business and not for jokes or any child's play.

Thanks and waiting.

Second response from Mr. Graham:

Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 5:28 PM EST

Hello Bruce,
I communicated back to you and sent you the information required for
us to start up the process till now, nothing was heard from you and I
had already informed the bank today that I had found a kinship to the
Deposit of the Late. Ronald Manoor and authorization had been given
officially to make the presentation to the custodian trust as
presented before the bank.

Till now, am waiting to receive the details from you so as to start
the presentation and by this mail, I expect your earliest response.

My response:

Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 3:07 AM EST

Mr. Graham,

I'm sorry it took me so long to respond as I have been busy with other business dealings. I must have missed the information needed to start the process. Please send it to me again. I'm still uncertain of my participation, though.


Bruce Hobbs

Monday, November 6, 2017

Clairvoyant: I make no such claim



A person who claims to have a supernatural ability to perceive events in the future or beyond normal sensory contact.

So you have to claim to be a clairvoyant to be one (sounds circular to me). I will not make any such claim. Let's just leave it at that.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Jones Act should be repealed

I sent this message to my Senators, Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and to my Representative, Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio District 2):

"The Jones Act will saddle Puerto Rico with unnecessary rebuilding costs as materials will need to be shipped to the island. It should be repealed immediately for Puerto Rico and after a period of time (a year?) for the rest of the country. This protectionist act has outlived its usefulness. Thank you."

In case you're unfamiliar with the Jones Act, formally known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, here's a summary from Wikipedia: It "requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents." It is a protectionist act and, in my humble opinion, has no place in modern commerce.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Only science can predict an eclipse

On August 21, many in the United States will experience a partial or total solar eclipse. This forecast is brought to you purely by science and math. There is nothing in the Holy Bible, in Christianity or any other religion that has any power or ability to predict when an eclipse will happen.

If you're a science denier, I respectfully request that you not make any preparations for the eclipse and watch it as it happens. To do otherwise is a concession on your part that science does exist and plays a part in your life.

To those who like to pick and choose which science they follow and which they ignore: It doesn't work that way. Sure, science is messy and subject to politics but, ultimately, you have to accept the whole package or none of it.

Stupid headline of the day — July 27, 2017

And the stupid headline of the day goes to Gizmodo for this doozy: "Astronomers Capture Wild Intergalactic Gamma Ray Burst As It Happens."

Anyone who knows science knows that things that show up here on Earth didn't just happen. In this case, the event happened nine billion years ago. Think about that for a second and reread "As It Happens."

Second, you would expect that this observation occurred today, maybe yesterday. No, it happened over a year ago, on June 25, 2016. The thing that happened today is that Gizmodo found out about it and wet their pants over it.

Finally, and I'm grasping at straws here, it took them three minutes into the event to start recording it. What did they miss? They can only guess. They did get some exciting data four minutes into the event.

The story is a great story. It's the click-bait headline I object to. But the headline worked; enough people clicked on it that it showed up in my Google News Feed. Sadly, this is what journalism has become: It's all about how many clicks you get, some from real people and some from bots!

In writing this post, I spent some time on Gizmodo and it does have some good stories.

(I originally posted this on Facebook on July 27.)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Extraordinary rendition of Fethullan Gülen! Isn't that un-American as well as illegal?

Former CIA Director James Woolsey is claiming that Michael T. Flynn discussed the idea with Turkish officials of illegally kidnapping Fethullan Gülen and sending him to Turkey. Gülen holds a Green Card and the possibility of his extraordinary rendition to certain death in Turkey by our government appalls me.

A Flynn spokesperson said that Woolsey's claims were "false" and that "no such discussion occurred."

This was before Flynn was National Security Adviser and he was an undisclosed foreign agent of Turkey, who paid his company $530,000 in fees. Fortunately, Flynn no longer has a direct connection with the Trump Administration. Update from the NBC News article: "The elder Flynn [Michael T. Flynn] was paid $530,000 last year for work the Justice Department says benefited the government of Turkey. The elder Flynn did not register as a foreign lobbyist at the time, but did so retroactively this year. The issue has been part of Mueller's probe."

Are people legally in this country going to suddenly disappear with no trace? I certainly hope not!

Here are a three articles with more information.

● The Wall Street Journal (original article; subscription may be required): Ex-CIA Director: Mike Flynn and Turkish Officials Discussed Removal of Erdogan Foe From U.S.

● The Christian Science Monitor: Could the Trump administration send Fethullah Gülen back to Turkey?

● The Chicago Tribune: Ex-CIA Chief: Michael Flynn's firm discussed removing Turkish cleric from U.S.

Update November 11: NBC News published this article on November 5: "Mueller Has Enough Evidence to Bring Charges in Flynn Investigation."

I thought President Donald Trump was going to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. It appears he's adding undesirable creatures to the swamp instead.

Note: This post was also posted on my Facebook page.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fathers can take care of kids, too

On Facebook, Sonya S. asks: "Wondering again this morning whose genius idea it was to make Mothers have to work full time while trying to manage children and all the issues, illnesses, and injuries that come with them."

There are dads at the playgrounds, too, these days. My wife and I discussed which one of us would stay home with the kid. In our case, my wife stayed home but it could have been the other way around. I determined to be fully involved with my son's upbringing and changed his first diaper. We took turns staying home with him when he was sick.

What I found, in running the numbers, is that, due to the marriage penalty, the second family income is taxed at a much higher rate. By the time you add up extra taxes, clothes, day care and transportation, it can actually reduce the family's income more when both parents work than it does for one to stay home. Although I understand that it has been reduced, the marriage penalty is worst if both parents earn above average salaries. In fact, we filed separately in some years to save tax (We paid less Federal tax but more Ohio tax. The net effect was in our favor by several hundred dollars.).

The comments above are based on two-parent families. I don't know if Sonya is married or not. Obviously, if there is just one parent, having one parent working and the other managing the kids isn't an option.

Edited March 26 to fix editing.