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My Encounter with a Nigerian Scam Artist - a Study in Greed

Updated on August 5, 2013

What's in my head

Over on the left you'll get a factual account of my exchange with Brian, complete with misspells and bad English. But here you'll read of what was going on in my head as I continued to engage the man.

"CL?" I didn't post the boat on Craig's List. It was on Ebay. Oh well, maybe he just got confused. "Kindly" - That sounds a little too, well, kind. He must be a foreigner. Clearly Englishi is his second language.

A LIFETIIME Daylite kayak for sale

It began with my posting an 8 ft. kayak on Ebay. I'd never attempted to sell anything on Ebay before, so this would prove to be an adventure.

LIFETIME Daylite kayak, 8 ft. Includes paddles, sail and lifejacket. Nearly new. Have used it 1/2 dozen times over the past couple years. $300.

Much to my surprise, within twenty four hours I got the following text message on my phone.

Does the Daylite kayak you posted for sale on CL has any damage(s) or faults? Kindly text me back with the last price you wanna sell it, Brian

What a trusting guy!

Wow, he hasn't even seen the boat and he will send me a check to cover my price and the cost of transport. How does he know I'll follow his instructions? I could pocket the money and keep the boat!

This is amazing!

Money's not the issue... apparently

I texted back.

Has no damage. I posted for $300 which is $50 less than new and I throw in a life jacket. I'll consider a reasonable offer.

Response. your location after payment has been received and cashed. I will need your details to mail the payment immediately... 1. Name to

...purchase and mover's fee will be included to enable pick up company to schedule and appropriate time for the pick up of the item.

I'm OK with the condition and price of the item and ready for its purchase. I will mail a certified draft to cover the cost.. on the check: 2 address to mail payment to

Had a hard time following that, didn't you. Obviously parts of the message are missing. But there's enough there to understand what Brian wants me to do. I think.

Can't believe this guy wants to buy my boat without even inspecting it. But I better make sure.

He obviously has done this before. This must be how Ebay works. Cool!

This is easier than I ever thought it would be!

Giving him the benefit of the doubt


Think I missed part of the message. Do you want to come see it? 10912 Lantern Way, Richmond, VA 23236.

Brian What name should I write on the check?

Me Sorry, Frank Crane

did I understand that you want me to ship it to you? If so, give me your location. I assume you'll cover that expense.


No shipping involved. Where and where (when?) you would like the pick up agent to come for pickup will be discussed once you have your money.

Me Works for me.


There's that word "kindly" again.

He must really be determined to get this boat. Doesn't want it bought out from under him. I wouldn't have thought to pull the ad this soon. But, oh well, why not?

The saga continues


Will get in touch with you once I mail the check out which should be within the week. Also, kindly, delete the AD


So he looses my name and address. What with the delay/ I hope he's not changed his mind.

Better check up on him. Maybe he's got a lot on his mind. I bet he's an old man like me. A little senile? This should be interesting.

What a sweet guy. He's sorry for the delay and happy for my patience all this time. I can wait.

Inexplicable delays


Could you please resend your address?


Frank Crane, 10912 Lantern Way, Richmond, VA 23236

Brian Thanks

But after a few days I still haven't gotten the promised check. So I text him.

Haven't received your check. Change your mind?


You should receive check late Monday, Tuesday latest. Sorry for the inconveniences.

A few more days pass and then this from Brian.

Hello, really glad and happy for the patience you ve had all these while. The check has been mailed. you can track the status on with 39670515007489. Get back to me soon.

Me I'll notify you when the check arrives and clears the bank.

FedEx Tracker
FedEx Tracker

Yes, that's angry for me.

Now I'm mad

I did indeed follow the tracking procedure on FedEx. And, sure enough, it showed a parcel to have been mailed on Monday, July 15, 2013 from Alfreda, GA. But you'll see that it got snagged in Augusta, GA by something called a delivery exception.

After several days and no check I figured I'd give him a piece of my mind.

What is this? Some joke? Apparently you have put a hold on delivery of the check. Do you want this boat? or not?

Now he thinks I'm John? Why would he have to wait for FedEx to give him the tacking number?

Wow! $1980.56. He's going to spend $1680.60 to ship a $300 kayak? I bet he's a rich Soudi prince who has promised his grandson a particular boat and he is determined to get it no matter what!

Strange, but hey, I'll get my $300.


I got his attention! Brian writes.

It has been mailed out to yor address. It should be delivered at your doorstep by Monday, latest tuesday. Still waiting to be contacted by FedEx with the tracking number. Once its beens ent to me, am gonna tst you so you may track as well to know the status. Thanks for your patience.

Several more days go by and then this.

Hey John. Thanks for your patience you had regarding the check. The check should be delivered to you soon. You can track the status on fedexcom with 157103815002805. Proceed to cash the check immediately. Get back to me asap.

Before I got around to tracking this second number a parcel arrived via FedEx. Can you believe for $1,980.56.


I'm curious, but still not a clue that this might be a scam. But the name and address is weird. I'll google it. It's a high-end residence in Key West.

How nice of him to offer me an extra $100!

I figured I'd deposit the check. If it cleared, I'd go ahead and send him his money.

Curious that he insists on my sending it via money gramme or Western Union. I had planned to send it electronically directly from my bank account... like I pay all my bills.

He's really eager that I deposit the check and make sure it clears. Feels like he really wants to do right by me.

The check came form Los Angeles and the name on the return address was Paul Grant.

About to take the hook

So I copied the address and went to work the next morning intending after work to stop at Western Union to wire a cool $1580.46 to Brain or Walaiy or Paul. Walking across the parking lot with Cindy, who's husband is a professional bank fraud detective, I just happened to mention my text exchange with this aged Saudi prince.

"That's a classic Nigerian scam," she exclaimed. "My husband deals with those all the time."

"Really" was all that I could get out. I wasn't about to admit that I'd been hoodwinked by a Soudi prince.

After work, instead of going to Western Union I made a bee line for Wells Fargo. That's when I got an education. Turns out that my particular branch of Wells Fargo gets three or four of these things a week. While the $1980.56 had dropped down from pending to posted in my online account, it would still take another week for the check to clear the orignating bank. Sure enough, five days after I'd deposited it, $1980.56 was withdrawn from my account.

I would have been charged a $12 bad check fee, except that the gracious Wells Fargo lady took pity on me.

Now I'm really curious


I have received a check for $1980.56. It is from Kuehl Captial Corp. Is that you? Why so much?


The amount written on the check is $1980.56.(pickup company fee inclusive) we agree on before commencing this deal. Kindly deduct your pay, an extra $100 for transport and stress and send via money gramme or Western Union to the pickup company remaining fund immediately to the below info.

Walaiy Siyanbila, 3317 Riviera drive, Key West, FL 33040

Are we clear on that?


Yea, I will first deposit the check. As soon as the check clears I will send all but $400 to the company you listed. I will send it electronically. What should I expect then?


Once you send via money gramme of western union the remaining funds to the pickup company, get back to me with the transfer details and when and where you would like to meet up for the pickup

Have you deposited the check into your saving or checking account?

Me Yes


It shoudn't take more than 24 hours to clear. Kindly check to see if it has. Once it does proceed with the transfer of remaining balance to the pickup company

Me Understood. Can you please give me your name? Is it Paul Grant?

Brian Has the check cleared yet?

Me No it arrived at 3 p.m. I deposited it around 4 p.m.

Brian Try to check the status. It might have cleared into your account.

Avarice by Jesus Solana from Madrid, Spain [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Avarice by Jesus Solana from Madrid, Spain [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

What a greedy guy!

Had he added a $100 to the original $300 for transport I might have never mentioned it to Cindy. But $1680.56? Thanks to Cindy and a very understanding Wells Fargo official I was saved the loss of what for me is a huge amount of money.

By why was he able to string me along for so long? Gotta face it. I was just as greedy as he. And mine was the greater evil. Should have known better. See, greed is a fail safe evidence of unbelief. In greed a man grasps for what he wants, totally oblivious to God's abundant provision. A greedy heart shouts "If there is a God, He sure isn't taking care of me!"

Once again, I'm grateful that God's love doesn't rest on my being perfect in his sight, but upon my being a friend of his Son, Jesus Christ. So I can humbly admit a failure, seek His forgiveness and move on to the next adventure, hopefully a little wiser.

One more thing

LIFETIME Daylite kayak, 8 ft. Includes paddles, sail and lifejacket. Nearly new. Have used it 1/2 dozen times over the past couple years. $300.

Still for sale.

Comments - I'm listening

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    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very interesting glad you did not get rip-off by this Nigerian scam and hope you sell you boat soon .

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very well written article. It is hard to make sense of the shenanigans.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very shrewd operation! Thanks for the warning. Those Nigerian scams come in every shape and size. My friend's son was offered a job to run errands for an old man. Without even interviewing him in person they sent him a large check to hire the limo he would need to drive the old man around. Again the bank stepped in.


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