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Fun with Nigerian spam

Ahh, don't you just love the taste of Nigerian spam? Most people don't fall for that "I'm a prince, send me money now, and I'll reward you later" scam, and at least one person decided to have a little fun at the spammer's expense.

Who hasn't received spam from someone claiming to be a deposed Nigerian prince, a disinherited Nigerian businessman, or some other type of stressed-out Nigerian who needs your money? Most people have gotten into the habit of simply hitting the "delete" button when they skim over the misspellings, broken English, and requests for thousands of dollars.

But a man who calls himself "Tom Udo" decided to get even with the spammer by playing a prank. When he received e-mail from someone claiming to be a Nigerian gubernatorial candidate named Chief (Dr.) David Ehizojie who needed money for his campaign, Udo replied to him enthusiastically. As a joke, Udo lifted an identity and storyline from the fiction of Providence, Mass.-born 1920s horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft.

Lovecraft is known for his use of antiquated language and suspenseful stories (such as "The Call of Cthulhu") in which characters who pry too far into forbidden things often meet a horrific fate worse than death.

Udo drew the spammer into an elaborate exchange of hoax e-mails. He claimed to be Randolph Carter, a character from Lovecraft's "Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath." As the exchange progressed, Udo explained that he was an anthropological researcher from Miskatonic University, located in fictional Arkham, Mass., and that he had recently stumbled across references to a "Cthulhu" character in several primitive mythologies. He inquired as to whether the spammer had heard of such a reference in Nigeria. (Udo also threw in a detective from the television show, NYPD Blue, to thicken the plot.)

To Lovecraft fans, all of the locations and characters would be recognized as literary creations, but the spammer played right into Udo's hand. The spammer urged Udo to send money by Western Union and even provided relevant bank account information -- which Udo promptly turned over to the financial crimes division of the United States Secret Service.


The entire exchange is available online at

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