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An email from Kofi Annan ?!
Former secretary to the United Nations writes to YOU with offer of compensation for Nigeria Scam!
A great many people have received this message. So, is it genuine? Let's use some commonsense! Read the message and then the conclusions below:
Original Message -----
From: email@example.com - (actually return address is firstname.lastname@example.org )
Sent: Saturday, December 08, 2007 9:11 AM
To: none - (but actually it was sent to sb@ , which was subscribed to iNeedHits!)
Subject: SCAMMED VICTIM/ US$ 250,000.00 BENEFICIARY.REF/PAYMENTS CODE:06654
ZENITH BANK COMPENSATION UNIT, IN AFFILIATION WITH THE UNITED NATION. Send acopy of your response to official email: email@example.com
OK, that really is a picture of Kofi Annan, and it is true that he was secretary general to the United Nations, but that doesn't make the message genuine. Also, it's not good enough to simply ask if it's plausible, ie if it's likely to be true on the balance of evidence that Kofi Annan might actually write a message to all and sundry offering a payment of $250,000 as compensation to those who have been SCAMMED by the Nigeria Scam! The way to determine if such a message is or is not genuine is to get independent verification. For example, if you phoned up the United Nations www.un.int and said "I've got an email from Kofi Annan", they would either say "yes, that's good, just fill in the forms and we'll get it processed" or they'd say "we're getting a lot of calls about this - it's a hoax!". Alternatively, how about doing a search? A Google world search for "email from Kofi Annan" or "United Nations Nigeria Scam Compensation" etc immediately reveals a variety of websites all denouncing the message as a hoax. This tends to tell you that it is very likely to be a hoax!
Independent verification is a great way to determine the truth or falsehood of some contention. Look at the sulfnbk and the pavlo88 questions. You have to make sure it's genuinely independent, though. It's no good REPLYING to the message, as you'll get the same old flim-flam and you could get fooled into some sort of a scam!
There are other things that make the message look dodgy. For example, someone working in an official capacity in the United Nations would not use a free email supplier such as Hotmail, Yahoo, or PeoplePC; they'd use something @ un.int or similar. Also, they'd not send SPAM to random email addresses. This particular one was received from the an email address on a list at iNeedHits, an address which usually receives loads of guff about search engine stuff. See email address choosing. Also, an official would not be so eager to write you a cheque, and would expect a preliminary procedure up front. "Also, How are you today? Hope all is well with you and family?" is an odd thing to say to you when the message is addressed to "ATTN:Sir/Madam"!
Incidentally, a search for "Mr. Jim Ovia of ZENITH BANK NIGERIA" suggests there really is such a thing as the Zenith Bank of Nigeria and there really is someone whose name is Mr Jim Ovia. However the search also shows results which suggest strongly that his name is, like that of Kofi Annan, being used in vain in a scam.
So, to conclude, upon doing a few searches, there is a widespread opinion that the message is a scam. Therefore, don't reply or in other ways get involved! Advance Fee fraudsters are sending these messages out to lure people into paying up front, disclosing their personal details to criminals, and in some cases even being led to Nigeria, whence they never return.
I have published this message here, not simply to tell you it's a fraud, but to show how you can do your own independent enquiries and use your own good sense to tell if such things are genuine or fake. For any incoming proposal or surprise message you receive, you can do your own independent evaluation and make your own mind up. The more good sense you have, the less easy a time crooks will have conning you!
Also see Rogues Gallery , Bank Hoaxes , Lottery Winners scam, etc.
Minor points: The image in the email was actually pinching bandwidth from the UN, as it was remote-served as an image from http://www.un.org/sg/images/annanofficial2002_big2.jpg which in theory at least means that if the United Nations had an early warning system they could immediately retaliate by dynamically replacing the image with "this is a scam" as per the eBay Scam message. Also, in some of the early versions of the message, the name of Kofi Annan was incorrectly spelt, which would tend to cast doubt on the genuineness of the message.