Some friends of mine on Facebook are playing a game that occasionally makes this post:
[Person] just found a bag of money in Roller Coaster Kingdom! Do you want it? For tax reasons, [Person] cannot keep this money. This is your lucky chance to get some extra money!
This is actually a legitimate game offer — it’s like the mystery eggs and lost animals in Farmville — but you can’t help but think it sounds fishy. After writing my recent fake news article related to Nigerian e-mail scams, I find myself thinking that that announcement should read like this:
Dear Sir, I am Casta Uralli, tax accountant in the Finance Ministry of the sovereign Kingdom of Roller Coaster. Having obtained your contact from the Roller Coaster Chambers of Commerce you have earned business trust that made me to contact you on this matter. It has eventuated here that a large sum of money cannot be claimed within our country for tax reasons, and we are urgently needing your assistance to transfer these monies to a safe account in your country….
[From the Vesperfire News Wire:] Nigerian businessmen are becoming increasingly mystified by their difficulties in exploiting the potential of the Internet to expand their business and make contacts with the rest of the world.
“We keep reading about the great communications potential of the Internet, but it never manifests,” complains Ighomuedafe Obadina, owner of “Gem of Nigeria” Textiles, a small but highly reputed exporter of specialty textiles in Lagos, Nigeria. “I am sending personal salutations to establish contact with potential customers, but it’s as if my e-mails never even get read. Even people I’ve done business with before by letter don’t respond.” He added, “I have tried to be exquisitely more polite and formal in my phrasing, but no help has this given me. I resorted even to dropping of names of important government officials I have worked with, but that only seemed to make it worse.”
Financial institutions seem particularly affected. “We were never able to communicate to arrange transactions, particularly monetary transfers. We gave up and returned to using paper orders and records via airmail. It’s faster and more reliable,” said Olamilekan Ogboyomi, International Transaction Specialist at First Nigerian Bank of Abuja.
The Nigerian government remains baffled by the complaints. One official told us, “We have had to upgrade our communications infrastructure several times, because a truly immense volume of e-mail traffic leaves our country daily. Yet our businessmen complain they never receive responses. It makes no sense.”