Thursday, July 03, 2008


I'd heard ambiguous references to Nigerian email scams back when I was a lawyer, but had never been solicited myself. The first one I ever saw was actually during a document review of some client files that dated back to the 80s; there was a hardcopy of a letter from the Nigerian Oil Ministry (on pretty convincing looking letterhead) asking for help getting some "funds released." By the time I read this story in the New Yorker a few years back, I still don't think I'd actually gotten any "requests." But over the last couple of years they've started to trickle in. Got one from a Sudanese refugee camp a couple of months ago, in fact.

But this is a new wrinkle to me. And with apologies to the good Dr. Fred Silva of Stoke City, UK if I'm jumping the gun, lostrivermodern seems to have gotten its first "solicitation" from a Nigerian-inspired fraudster. Started with this:

Hey There,

Good day to you. Kindly check if we can use 3 nights (August 18,19,and 20) at your place. However, this dates are flexible but it should be within the 10th to the 29th of August.

I want you to email me the availability an cost.We are 2, My Wife and I.We are coming for our honeymoon. we don't smoke and we don't drink neither do we have pets.

I await your swift response.And enjoy your day!

My Due Regards.

Obviously pretty suspicious. For fun, we googled him but couldn't come up with anyone local with the name drfredsilva (which was his email address; no salutation on the inquiry), though there is a pretty reputable Dr. Fred Silva who is apparently the head of the Canadian American Academy of Pathology. So no harm in responding, right? Trying to draw him out a bit, I sent:

Hi Fred. Rates are $200 on the weekend (Fri, Sat and Sun nts) and $125 during the week. I have availability right now on the 18-20, which would be $375 total.

How'd you come across our cabin?
And the good doctor responds:


Thanks for your prompt response.I have discussed this with my Wife about this and we have agreed to use your place,and as for the cost,we are alright with it.We are stay at No4 stoke city,United Kingdom +447024068105

ur our vacation expenses as a wedding gift and they have promised to send you a certified check as soon as you have penned these dates down for us.

Kindly email me your full name,physical address, home and cell phone number so that the payment can be mailed out to you soon.

Waiting to read from you.Have a great week ahead.


Dr Fred

More googling fails to find a Dr. Fred in Stoke City (home of Stoke City F.C., the Potters, founded in 1863). But I googled the phone number and found a couple of spam advertisements (sports apparel) associated with it. Pretty sure that it's a scam, but not totally willing to give up on Fred, I told him that we only accept paypal and I'd be happy to confirm his reservation once we receive payment. No word back. Poor guy isn't going to have anywhere to stay on his honeymoon...


kate said...

Don't those scams usually involve YOU sending THEM money?

Chris said...

Yeah, I suppose it's just an identity theft type thing - collecting personal info. Not exactly in the Nigerian mold. But I gotta spice up the content somehow these days!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this... I got the same email from Dr. Fred regarding

At first I just thought he was an illiterate english doctor. ;)

Anonymous said...

I got same email to, but different name to my craigslist post.

Anonymous said...

Got two almost identical e-mails from Drs. with different names last night. Not quite sure how they are pulling this scam off but it has to be fake. Cashier's check is obviously a giveaway.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the "heads up" -- I got the same inquiry as a result of a posting on