Sgt Wilbur’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band

Every now and then one sits back and something comes along that’s just so dog gone entertaining you can’t just let it pass by. First, a little background. Anyone ever hear of Nigeria. Well, that’s the ultimate “N” word if there ever was one. That country is so corrupt it would make Al Capone shake in his shoes. They wouldn’t know what the rule of law is if someone handed it to them in a paper bag. And Internet scams abound. Think about this. A place so crooked they named a scam after it. Poor France only had a fried potato named after it. Anyway, there is one particular scam that is my favorite. Folks, I have a GIRLFRIEND!

It goes like this. Couple days ago a lady asked to friend me on Facebook. Now, I’m sixty-three, well past my prime, been married a half dozen times or so, therefore I take anything I can get, so I accepted. I do have guidelines. They have to be human and I prefer them not to be sporting an oxygen bottle. Anyway, she thanked me, and frankly I didn’t think much of it. Then the PMs started rolling in. My Spidey sense wasn’t on at the time so I answered in a fairly civilized fashion. Her messages were articulate, but I noticed that right away she told me she was searching for a “soulmate.” Then she wanted to text me on my phone and sent me her number, which was based in Riverside, California. Ok, that’s cool. But, I noticed her “location” was now Washington, DC according to her Facebook profile, an account which disappeared fairly quickly after our first contact. She explained to me that she was a woman of wealth, recently divorced, and she was an international antiques dealer. Friends and neighbors, I wasn’t born yesterday, and I wasn’t born in the dark! I CALLED the number, and naturally it was not receiving calls at that time. Now, for the uninitiated, the reason for this is these numbers have two purposes. First, of course, for texting. After the initial contact the scammer will move on to text or email, blocking or removing the original Facebook page so they can set the trap for the next loved one Then next is to provide some kind of assurance to the “mark” that the owner of the number is in country. There will never be an answer at the other end because if that should ever happen the idiot will very quickly display a gender problem. Oh yeah, it’s a dude!

Ok, so at this point I’m becoming aware that this is most likely not going to be Mrs. Wilbur number three, but let’s add something else to,the mix. I’m an asshole. That, and it being a holiday weekend, I’m sitting in my beautiful home with an unlimited supply of Jim Beam and cigarettes! The prose from Facebook to text to email shifts wildly. Shift is the key word here. As the shift change comes about over yonder one will quickly realize that they are dealing with not one, two or possibly even three individuals. You can even time their breaks if you know time zones and watch for changes in style. They have pre-written emails, which are usually well written but shallow. The emails I began to receive we’re chock FULL of declarations of undying love for me! No matter what I wrote back more flowery letters would return. Then, of course, my “friend” wanted to converse with me on Yahoo Messenger. I have several Yahoo accounts and I have one in particular for just this kind of thing. Uh, I’m an elderly, lonely, wealthy widower.

Let me now introduce you to something called “Translation Software.” The job of this little jewel is to enable the sender to converse on text in a language that they are totally unfamiliar with. This software doesn’t pick up on slang, and most CERTAINLY doesn’t decipher TEXAN! After quite a few slip ups on the other end, including very long response times (as the software does its thing) I decide to do my litmus test for the Nigerian Scam. It goes like this.

The scammer does realize that it is an American holiday. Also, they are fully aware that anyone hanging on their every word is most likely alone and elderly. So, it only goes to follow at some point they will ask, “What are you doing tonight?” They expect a short reply, easily figured out by the computer whereupon they can enlist any one of a number of provocative answers designed to pump up the blood pressure of the lonely old fool on the hook. Well, THIS lonely old fool is sitting on a leather couch with Frenchi and a cocktail,
but I digress. When asked the question I respond, “I’m running down to Austin to pick up a couple grams. We have three high school cheer leaders locked up in a bedroom, and I’m going to smoke up their brains and have a me and my friends throw a gang bang.” Now please bear in mind the only thing the translation software picks up clearly is the word “friends!” After the usual delay I get, “So glad you have friends there!” Ruh Roh!

Now my friend must move to phase two. Since “she” is an international antique dealer she must make a trip to purchase products for her many outlets, and of course, the only place such items may be obtained is none other than, you got it . . . NIGERIA! (This is my surprised face!) She is departing today and will communicate with me after arrival in that country. Now here’s how the sting works. Never mind that I have made it abundantly clear that I’m too broke to pay attention, she has looked at my Yahoo profile, and is foaming at the mouth, picking out new cars My new friend will spend about a day or so texting me and then disaster will strike! It will be anything from being robbed to complications with export taxes for purchased items. He/she/it will ask me to send money via Western Union to assist, which will of course be given back upon return to the states, whereupon we will get married and live happily ever after!

These people invariably work out of Lagos. Very big seaport town! Bad traffic, crowded streets, the whole nine yards. The way the scam is supposed to come to fruition is a MoneyGram is sent and is picked up at any one of MANY outlets. Here’s the part being an asshole helps. I have a Western Union MoneyGram claim number that is as dead as fried chicken! That’s the claim number I send to the love of my life. Now, let’s drop all pretense. HE will dispatch a runner from the call center ( that’s right, this is run like a business) to the nearest location to pick up the loot. Naturally, the number won’t work, but remember, we’re not dealing with rocket scientists here. I just told this idiot I was about to commit not one but THREE felonies designed to put me in jail until Jesus came back and was told, “Cheery-o!” They will assume the first place is simply broken and will proceed to bounce all over town trying to cash in. Oh yeah, I always make the amount around ten thousand dollars to peek interest. Now this is a little like looking for a brisket sandwich in Manhattan on a rainy night, ok? Usually takes about two days and a couple tanks of gas before I get the obligatory text, “Why you do this me you no love me long time!” At this point I do explain to the scammer that he has been had. They never understand plain English and will rant and rave continuously before moving on to the next mark. Then, in about six months or so, I’ll get yet another friend request on Facebook. Ennie, meanie, minie, mo . . . Catch a Nigerian by the toe . . .