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September 18, 2009

419er Fails to Win Me As a Friend

If you've watched enough reality television programs, you have certainly heard a sound effect that is played whenever a show participant says or does something that is so off-the-wall that it brings the proceedings to an instant halt. That sound effect replicates the noise of a phonograph arm and needle skipping wildly across grooves of a phonograph record (yes, I know it's only one spiral groove...go away). I feel the need to explain the sound because I doubt that many young people under the age of 20 in developed countries have ever heard that sound on a real phonograph and record.

That sound played in my mind when I started reading today's 419 email message, which begins thusly:

Subject: Proposition

Confidential Message:

I hope this message will meet you in good faith, please pardon me for reaching you in this manner because you do not know me, I have an obscure proposal of mutual interest to share with you. I got your email address from the Internet through my search for a relatively unknown person who will assist me in securing a large sum of amount.

[cue sound effect]

Relatively unknown? How dare you! Have my 30 years of writing and 45 books left me in a state of relative unknowingness? Hrrrmph.

This "proposition" claims to be from the dean of a Ugandan university. Interestingly, the name of the person, Joseph Owor, belongs to the real Dean of Faculty of Business Administration at Uganda Christian University. His photo is even on the university's web site.

So, no, this offer cannot possibly have originated with the real Joseph Owor. Instead, a crook has hijacked the dean's name and reputation — doing the same with Christian charity, if you read his whole appeal.

Contact is to be made through his "secure email address," a free mcom.com address (a domain owned by AOL).

I feel badly for the real Dean Owor. Because the university email contact point is a centralized email address, there will certainly be some backlash by recipients of this 419 message that will cast aspersions on the gentleman. He'll have to defend himself against something he may not even understand. He will, much to his chagrin, no longer be "relatively unknown."

Posted on September 18, 2009 at 09:08 AM