By Mark O’Neill
On Sunday evening, I received the most nerve-wracking instant message of my life, even though I knew right from the start that it was a fake. I decided to write this article in case you get hit by this online scam too. Being computer-based creatures, I figured some of the GAS readership were high risk targets.
When it happened, I was sitting where I always sit – in front of the computer, chatting via IM, and researching some possible blog stories. It was then that a new IM window popped up with the following message :
I am hitman. I been paid lot of money to kill you by good friend of yours. They waiting f0r your funerael announcement. What I want too know is how much youre life is worth?
Now I would be lying if I said that by this point my heart wasn’t threatening to explode and my hands weren’t shaking. But I knew that this was what the FBI was warning everyone not to fall for so I decided to call this joker’s bluff. I was first tempted to correct his grammar (I AM a writer after all) but I decided to get right to it.
Me : Maybe I should be phoning Interpol and passing on my chat logs to them? Last time I checked, death threats were a serious crime.
Him : They can’t help you. I kill you first. One shot to head. Police come to your funerael.
OK, it was time to see how good an assassin he really was. I’ve read Day of the Jackal. I’ve seen the movie, where De Gaulle almost gets it. I know what assassins do. Let’s see if this 15 year old in Nigeria with bad acne even knows what end of the gun the bullet comes out of.
Me : So I guess having read Day of the Jackal from cover to cover, you’ve done your homework on me then?
Him : ??????
Me : Fake ID, hair colouring, false teeth, or maybe even a sex change…..
Him : $40,000 to cancel contract on you. Deal? OR DO YOU DIE?
Me : Only $40,000? Man, I’m insulted. Am I only worth $40,000?
Him : You want to pay more? You very rich? OK then!!!!!! $60,000!!!!! Or I KILL YOU.
Me : I’m feeling generous. Let’s make it a nice round $100,000. But first you have to answer two questions. Get them all right and you get your cash. Look upon it as a game show. You do have game shows in Nigeria don’t you?
Him : What you want to know?
Me : OK, let’s go. Question one. Where do I live? If you are going to kill me, you have to know where I am. I want you to tell me my full address including street, house number, city, region and country.
<no answer. I waited for close to 3 minutes.>
Me : Question two. What do I look like? I want hair colour, height, body weight, age, nationality and any distinguishing features. I mean, as a serious assassin, concerned with your international professional reputation, you don’t want to kill the wrong guy now do you?
Him : LISTEN YOU BASTARD. YOU PAY ME MY F**KING MONEY OR I KILL YOU WITH ONE BULLET TO THE HEAD? DO YOU PAY ME OR NOT??!! THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE!!!
Me : Sorry, that was the wrong answer. Thank you for playing “Spot the Fake Assassin”. You go back home empty-handed. Goodbye”
Then I blocked him from my IM client.
Now a lot of people have since criticised me for being so cavalier with him, saying that he could have been truly dangerous and that he may very well know where I live, that I may have pissed him off so much that he will now Definitely come after me. Indeed, some have told me that my best course of action would have been to block him without saying a word, others have told me to contact the police immediately.
Personally I am inclined to ignore it and enjoy the laugh I had. My mind automatically files these idiots away with viagra offers and male organ enhancement sales pitches. Offering to cancel ficticious contracts on your life is just another way to extort money out of you and if you don’t give in to it, they’ll soon move on to the next scam. These brainless oafs only stick with what works.
What do you think? If this joker had contacted you, what would you have done? Would you have contacted the police? Would you have blocked him from your IM? Or would you have had some fun with him, like I did? Have you been a victim of a scam like this, or do you know someone who has?