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09.04.2008

A Real Nigerian Wine Scam

Anyone who has an e-mail account and has checked it at least once in the last 10 years has probably received an e-mail that begins:

DEAR SIR,

CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS PROPOSAL

HAVING CONSULTED WITH MY COLLEAGUES AND BASED ON THE INFORMATION GATHERED FROM THE NIGERIAN CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY, I HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO REQUEST FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE TO TRANSFER THE SUM OF $47,500,000.00 (FORTY SEVEN MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS) INTO YOUR ACCOUNTS.

Known as the Nigerian Scam, or more properly an Advanced Fee scam, this sort of fraud has been incredibly successful, despite what may seem to some as its completely over-the-top implausibility. Apparently a lot of compassionate (and in particular elderly) Internet users have lost a lot of money to the scammers, many of whom are actually from Nigeria.

In jest, inspired by an e-mail from my friend Jack, I created little post about a year ago entitled The Nigerian Wine Scam as a joke. Maybe not a very well executed one, but some people got a chuckle out of it.

But now, reality has again trumped my own vain efforts at humor.

There really is a Nigerian Wine Scam. Not of the e-mail variety, of course, but of the much more dangerous bottled variety.

Nigeria is home to some excellent sounding wines, with names like "Bacchus Tonic Wines," "Eva Wines," and "Blue Cocktail Wines." Unfortunately while these are legitimate brands of alcoholic beverages, someone in Abuja, Nigeria has been re-using the bottles, corks, and labels of these brands to produce fakes that are not only not as tasty, they are downright dangerous.

Reportedly concocted of "caramel, vanilla flavour, red and blue colouring substance, alum grains, gum Arabic, among others" according to The Punch, a Nigerian Online Newspaper, these "wines" also contained sachet water -- water from small, often hand tied, plastic sachets that have become popular sources for drinking water in Africa in recent years.

These sachets are widely regarded by the scientific and medical communities as being extremely unreliable in their manufacture (not to mention completely unregulated), and tests have shown that sachets can contain everything from extremely high levels of toxic heavy metals to all manner of water borne pathogens and microbiological contaminents (can you say faecal coliforms?).

To wit: the dangers to anyone who might opt for a glass or two of Bacchus Tonic apparently include entero-gastritis, diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, cholera, and organ damage. Not to mention a pretty disgusting taste in your mouth.

So next time you get an e-mail offering you the chance to receive a one time shipment of Grand Cru Nigerian wine, just hit delete.

Read the full story.

Comments (7)

09.04.08 at 10:55 PM

Veeery funny. Don't forget capslock, to complete the perfect "nigerian scam look" ;-)

thud wrote:
09.05.08 at 11:05 AM

fecal coliform!..terroir reaches new hights..depths?

andtes wrote:
09.05.08 at 4:27 PM

never even heard of a nigerian wine industry. thought it was way to south to produce grapes. maybe you ough to teach us a little more about this obscure wine region, their grapes and their distribution.

Dylan wrote:
09.07.08 at 9:48 AM

That scam was such a sad one. I was frustrated to think of the elderly who fell for the trick. Sure, it's in capslock and over the top, but what sense do they have of the internet or tell-tale signs?

This wine scam is scary in health terms. No one was every hurt by the purchase of counterfeit luxury brands; except maybe their social status from inner circles. This is serious; taking the names of brands and reissuing them to be digested. I hope they can find ways to bring that down and fast.

Jeff Sharman wrote:
09.09.08 at 12:16 PM

I love the comments about the Nigerian Scam. Yes, I have received many such offerings over the years. A few other scams doing the rounds in recent months are the ones where you have won millions of dollars,euro's or pounds in some kind of lottery draw. Of course to claim the winnings you have to pay charges to have a certified bank draft delivered to your door. The amazing thing is, reputable companies names are given and phone numbers. I phoned one of these numbers once supposedly in London. A very foreign voice answered and after a few searching questions, it was obvious the person was no where near London. After one of the Nigerian offers which you quote, I actually emailed the person asking him to deposit $50000 in my account as a mark of good faith and then we could talk business. That was the last I heard. You are quite correct when you say that lots of money is made in this fashion. Some people will do anything for a quick buck.

Emily wrote:
09.12.08 at 4:17 PM

My favorite are the number of email requests I get through our website requesting pricing for Dom Perignon and various Grand Cru wines, to be paid for by credit card and shipped immediately to...you guessed it...Nigeria. Even better: we only sell Austrian wines. Good work!

Anonymous wrote:
09.17.08 at 5:03 PM

It doesn't matter what these wines are made of, it only matters what score the Spectator gave them. Didn't the publisher once remark, "we are a publishing empire, we create our own reality!"

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