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Wall Street Bailout as Nigerian Scam

Netlore Archive: 'Dear American, I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.'

Description: Email joke / Parody
Circulating since: Sep. 2008
Status: Fake, of course


As circulated on the Internet, Sep. 22, 2008:

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson


Comments: This satirical take on the U.S. government's response to the September 2008 financial crisis likens the Treasury Secretary's Wall Street bailout scheme to the grammatically-impaired "urgent and confidential business proposal" letters so characteristic of Nigerian 419 scammers.

The implication, of course, is that American taxpayers are being scammed, to the tune of the $700 billion requested as "asset relief" for a financial system most people perceive as responsible for its own plight. The Nigerian scam format was put to similar good use in a 2003 parody targeting President Bush's Iraq policy: "I am writing you in absolute confidence primarily to seek your assistance in acquiring oil funds that are presently trapped in the republic of Iraq."

As best I can determine, the Wall Street bailout letter was authored on September 22, 2008 by a DailyKos.com user named JPZenger.


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Sources and further reading:

Bailout Satire
Nation, Capitolism blog, 22 September 2008

G.W. Bush Nigerian Letter
Urban Legends, 29 Jan 2003

The Nigerian Scam
Example and commentary. (See also: Nigerian Scam variants)

Feds Mull $700 Billion Bailout
U.S. Economy, 21 September 2008


Last updated: 09/23/08


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