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April 16, 2004


Dick O'Brien

Another new angle on the 419 scam. Just when you thought that nothing could be less plausible than this sort of offer via email...

Abiola Lapite

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Ah, so you're just getting your first "Urgent and Confidential Business Proposal", are you? For some reason - likely my obviously Nigerian name - I've never received a single one of these missives over the years, although I'm flooded with every other sort of spam on a daily basis.

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"419" is the advance-fee fraud or Nigerian scam. Hilarious stuff, I love these letters and I have a collection of them. The first one I received (and I believe the original scam) claimed to be from the widow of Mobutu Sese Seko, but I've seen lots of incarnations since then.

There's good info on it at snopes:


Frank McGahon

Abiola: It's certainly not my first proposal, I've received countless by email, but it's the first one posted directly as a comment on my blog

Todd: I guess the reference in my title to Mary J. Blige's classic LP was a little obscure...


Frank, Ms. Blige is anything but obscure. Here in the States 411 is the number dialed for directory assistance (or "information"). So, "what's the 411?" is slang for "what's the story?" Oops, you probably already knew that -- sorry :)

Anyway, I did miss the Mary J. Blige reference completely -- I thought you were being clever (as usual) but sincerely asking "what's the skinny?"

*As I write this, I wonder if use of the word "dialed" ages me... I can't remember the last time I actually *dialed* a telephone. Has a new term been coined?

Frank McGahon

"Dialling" is still good. I still "Hoover" with my Dyson

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