Violet Towne is selling her car at the moment. Imagine her surprise when, before she’d even uploaded pictures of the item to the online site, she received a text from an interested buyer. She sent her email address.

This morning, ‘Ken’ replied:


Thanks for the swift response, I need you to understand that i am willing and ready to purchase it right away as i really appreciate the price stated in the AD, however i will like you to re-confirm the price by stating it in your return e-mail for verification, possibly have more pictures of it,and consider me as your favorite buyer as i am buying this for my Dad and due to the nature of my job and my present location as i am a marine engineer…i will not be able to come for inspection,i’m a very busy type as i work long hours everyday,i have gone through your advertisement and i am satisfied with it.

As for the payment..i can only pay via the fastest and secure way to pay online i.e (PayPal) here, as i do not have access to my bank account online,but i have it attached to my pay pal account, and this is why i insisted on using pay pal to pay.

I have a private courier agent that will come for the pick up after the payment has been made …so no shipping included and With the issue of my details,transferring the name of ownership and signing of all paperwork will be done by the courier services company agent so you don’t have to worry about that.

It will be so sweet if you can send me your PayPal email now so i can pay in right away and also include your address in your reply as i don’t really have much time on here.If you don’t have a paypal account, you can easily set up one…log on to and sign up its very easy… i would have loved to talk to you on phone but i work mainly on the sea and our phone network is down on the sea right now due to bad stormy weather, that was why i sent you a text, i even wonder how my message delivered to your phone but for now we can only communicate through the same mailing channel.await your reply asap.



Ah, Ken, Ken, Ken. The first and most egregious mistake you made, old salt, was to be unoriginal. You could have been a lighthouse keeper; you could have been a sergeant in Afghanistan; you could have been an astronaut, for Pete’s sake. You could have been a contender. Instead, you copied & pasted the same cruddy old racket that a bunch of other scumbags are using, thus nailing your credentials to the mast and allowing us to easily scry the cut of your jib in mere seconds by searching ‘marine engineer scam’.

Ken, I don’t want to take the wind out of your sails, but even plopping the word ‘illiterate’ in there might have gone some small way towards making your story sound more plausible.
As in: ‘I am an illiterate marine engineer’. Or ‘I am a very busy – albeit illiterate – type, with little grasp of grammer or reasonable sentence structure, and also a broken computer keyboard’. Well, that last bit is implied, so no real need to include it word-for-word, but you get the drift.

You might also want to consider some other amendments to your yarn, if you intend to have even the slightest intention of keeping your powder dry. First, don’t ask to see ‘more’ pictures of something if you haven’t seen any in the first place. Secondly, as philanthropic as I’m sure you intend it to sound, no-one gives a flying fuck whether you’re buying the car for your Dad, your parrot-shit bedecked peg-legged uncle or your retarded brother. We all know that ruse.

Another thing that has the distinct aroma of bilgewater about it, Ken, is the claim that you can access PayPal on your storm-tossed engineering project out there on the high seas, but not your bank account. Now why, do you suppose, that could possibly be? Is it something to do, perhaps, with the same special Nigerian technology that allows a very prompt text message to get through, but not any other kind of phone contact?

In short, Ken, it would be sweet if something terrible and quite agonizing happened to you very very soon. In my mind’s eye, I picture you being swept off the deck of the HMS Scumbucket by a humungous tsunami, and flung into the cold dark depths. There, I envisage you being torn limb from limb by a giant squid, and finally shredded into fibrous strips by tiny hungry crabs.

In the meantime, try not to stab yourself in the eye with your fork.

In case it’s not clear how this swindle is meant to work, faithful Acowlytes, it’s what’s called A False Payment Scam: the ‘buyer’ has no intention of taking delivery of the car. Instead, when the sale has been agreed, Ken sends a confirmation email that he has paid the money into the victims’s PayPal account. He has also included a ‘shipping’ fee, which is required by the ‘courier company’ and which the victim should pay C.O.D. to the driver when the car is collected. Shortly afterward, the victim receives a forged (but official-looking) confirmation email from PayPal with the apparent total figure. However, it appears that Ken is wrong about the C.O.D. payment. PayPal cannot ‘release’ the funds until the courier company is paid up front… typically by a deposit into a Western Union account. Since the (clueless) victim thinks they have the money in their PayPal account, they go ahead and deposit whatever figure Ken has pulled out of his ass, straight into his Nigerian bank account. And that’s the last they’ll ever hear of Ken.