night of the Nigerian scamsters
30 November 2000
had just got to sleep at 4 a.m. when I heard the phone ring down in
the office. A little voice told me I'd forgotten to turn on the answering
machine, so I shuffled down the stairs.
turned out to be a "Strictly Confidential" fax from Dr Idris
A. Boro, JP, of Lagos, Nigeria, addressed to any "President/CEO"
out of whose facsimile machine it happened to roll. It was headed "Request
for urgent confidential business relationship re: transfer of US$28,600,000.00
American Dollars into your account".
was a bureaucrat from some unnamed department of the Federal Government
of Nigeria and he had a big problem. He had $28.6 million left over
from payments to foreign contractors and needed somebody's account in
which to park it. If he could use mine, I'd get 30 per cent. Could I
please ring 234-1-759 1859 to fix the details?
ho! I didn't even need to ring up Idris to know the procedure. He'd
be delighted to transfer the money, but first I'd have to wire a small
transaction fee to clear the way. Then, of course, I'd never hear from
Dr Idris A. Boro, JP again. At least he had a sense of humour. Boro
... Borrow ... boom, boom.
is the global centre of excellence for low budget scams. It's a business
like everything else, and it probably returns 3 or 4 per cent. Somewhere
in Lagos there's a room with a few cheap computers and modems which
dial the rich countries of the world at random, sending out appeals
hardly a targeted approach. Dr Boro is trawling the bottom with a very
big net. Only the naive or bewildered would respond, but there's always
some desperate dingbat out there who wants to believe in the fairy godmother.
a fact that the Eiffel Tower has been sold for scrap several times and
the technique has always been the same: A few non-French scrap dealers
are contacted confidentially by an obscure French Government department
and invited to a secret meeting at an up-market hotel. There are the
appropriate trappings: food and drink, security guards on the door,
beautiful secretaries, etc, etc. The dealers are told the beloved icon
is riddled with metal fatigue. The risk of catastrophic collapse is
very great. Repair is technically out of the question. In short, the
symbol of France must be demolished, but in view of public sentiment,
the deal must be set in contractual concrete before an announcement
is made. Naturally, it would be too risky to invite French contractors.
dealers are asked to submit tenders. A few days later they're all contacted
and told they've won the contract. Please pay a first instalment and
stand by to move in when the government makes the announcement. They
pay, and wait and wait and wait.
laugh, but we can all get sucked in sometimes. You reckon you could
pick Dr Boro out of the line-up with your eyes shut, but what about
Bruce George "Pretty Boy" Baird? He ran the transport racket
when Nicholas Frank "The Hungarian" Greiner ran Macquarie
Street. Remember the Airport railway scam?
in 1991, Bruce was telling us the project would be absolutely ideologically
sound -- in Thatcherite market fundamentalist terms. "The airport
link will not require one cent of Government money" he said.
But by the time they signed off on the project, just a few days before
the 1995 elections (when the Carr gang took over the rackets), the taxpayer
was kicking in $570m of a $700m project. What a sting!
was, there had to be an ideological figleaf to cover Greiner's nakedness
-- a token private commitment. So the construction company, Transfield
Bouygues (rebadged as Airport Link Corporation) coughed up $124m (borrowed
from NAB) and ended up owning four of the stations. Conned? They must
have been ropeable! What did a construction company want with running
in the upshot, ALC are shaking down commuters for station-use "surcharges"
so high they're crippling patronage and we'll probably have to buy them
out to make the line work like it should. The whole thing makes the
Nigerian scamsters look like a harmless fundraising gig run by Community
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 2000