Scam Targets Anti-Apartheid Environmentalists Concerned About Climate Change

The headline boomed “CLIMATE CHANGE AWARENESS FUND ($900.000.00)”. Even better, it was sent from the Nelson Mandela Foundation ( Subject: Climate Change Awareness Fund.

The opening line is a teaser, “PLEASE HELP PROTECT/SAVE OUR PLANET.” This was followed by a frightening picture of President Bill Clinton, looking like he was robbed of all free will by a secret Kung Fu grip from a beatific Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton The picture was taken at the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) AND WILLIAM J. CLINTON FOUNDATION.”

What followed was a typical Nigerian scam letter, but written with the ardent environmentalist in mind:

Attention: Sir/Madam,
This is to inform you that the NELSON MANDELA FOUNDATION and WILLIAM J. CLINTON FOUNDATION in Collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has held an Internet Raffle Draw, and your Email Address was among the 2010 Email Addresses that was picked…The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change/Nelson Mandela Foundation and William J. Clinton Foundation were conceived with the objective of human growth, educational, and community development, and to create awareness to the dangers posed on our planet by climate change

To celebrate the 18th anniversary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change/Nelson Mandela Foundation and William J. Clinton Foundation in conjunction with the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) is giving out a yearly donation of $900,000.00…to 18 lucky recipients.

These specific Donations will be awarded to 18 lucky international recipients worldwide in different categories for their personal business development and enhancement of their educational plans and to create awareness in their community on the dangers posed on our planet by climate change as a Result of pollution….

[Suppressed, as these are my winning details, not yours.]

It is now agreed and endorsed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)/the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) and William J. Clinton Foundation that the winning information as written above are correct as was selected by the computer ballot system. And it has been agreed that the winner whose winning information has been sent to, will be paid the sum of $900,000.00…


To receive your prize, please do contact our consultant and furnish him with the following information: [Standard stuff.]

Email: Prof. Michael Manuel,
Tel/Fax: +26 86 661 8038

Please note that these donations/Grants are strictly administered by the EU, UN. You are by all means hereby advised to keep this whole information confidential until you have been able to collect your donation, as there have been cases of double and unqualified claim, due to beneficiaries informing third parties about his/her donation. Finally, all funds should be claimed by their respective beneficiaries, not later than 14 days after notification.

On behalf of the Board kindly, accept our warmest regards.

Rev. Dr. Desmond Tutu
Foundation officer.

I like this trend. In the days of yore, spammers blanketed emails with non-targeted messages, hoping something would stick. This was inefficient. They’ve now joined the ranks of modern business, producing quality scams for niche audiences.

How did they know that I, along with seventeen other quality individuals, of all the citizens of this fine planet, am worthy of a nearly million dollar grant to save the earth? Are my sterling qualities that obvious? Or was there great deliberation; was my winning a near thing? This was a world-wide contest. I must be doing something right.

There are no firm statistics, but I would love to know the success rate of targeted versus untargeted scam spam. There are two ways to count success: simple frequency of converted spam, i.e. how many emails does it take to fleece one victim; and total amount ripped off. For example, it could be that untargeted scam spam results in higher fleecing rates, but that targeted spam brings in more dollars per victim.

So if there are any spammers out there who want to get an edge over your competitors (other spammers, bureaucracies, television advertising, etc.), drop me a line. I can work for a cut of the profits.


  1. Speed

    ” … I would love to know the success rate of targeted versus untargeted scam spam.”

    I’ll bet that this guy knows.

    Dutch prosecutors believe that Avanesov made up to €100,000 ($139,000) a month from renting and selling his botnet just for spam, said Wim De Bruin, spokesman for the Public Prosecution Service in Rotterdam. Avanesov was able to sell parts of the botnet off “because it was very easy for him to extend the botnet again,” by infecting more PCs, he said.

    but this criminal investigation hasn’t stopped yet. We hope to get a better picture of the money and his business relationships.”

    When I worked in financial services I ran across two fraud/scam situations Neither involved the internet. One lady sent money (by mail) to a Canadian address in response to a phone solicitation about winning a sweepstakes. The second was more complicated and involved an investment in a pyramid scheme with a guaranteed return of “several” million dollars. The family was making arrangements to invest their expected windfall.

    Selling intangibles (or magazine subscriptions) teaches one the power of personality and greed in overcoming caution and reason.

  2. DAV


    Does this mean you no longer need a Tip Jar?

  3. Bernie

    The sad thing is that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to this kind of thing. My father who was pretty sharp through his 60s, became increasingly susceptible to all kinds of mail scams. On visits I would try to explain but he seemed to respond to these mail scams like someone addicted to gambling. It was all very sad. I hope there is a special place in hell for those who prey on the young and elderly.

  4. Briggs


    Until the check clears, I’ll keep it up.



    My Facebook friend Matti H. Virtanen, another climate guy, said he got the same spam scam.

  5. Bernie

    Today, November 5th is Guy Fawkes Day.

    Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
    The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
    I know of no reason
    Why the Gunpowder Treason
    Should ever be forgot.
    Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
    To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
    Three-score barrels of powder below
    To prove old England’s overthrow;
    By God’s providence he was catch’d (or by God’s mercy*)
    With a dark lantern and burning match.
    Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
    Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
    And what should we do with him? Burn him!

    Come January, somebody should perhaps check the cellars under the House of Representatives!

  6. Hee, hee, hee. Who better to target with scams than scammers? They already believe their own lies, so should be twice as vulnerable as those of us among the unwashed.

  7. John M

    The contract is “Michael Manuel”?

    Mann-oh-Mann, nice touch.

  8. Temporary pseudonym

    Amazingly, schemes like these seemed to have started with snail mail. Spouse’s employer received a letter from Nigeria in 1995 which appeared to be quite specific to him. He was a bit of a public figure and no detail in the letter was unavailable publicly. The gist of it was that there had been an interruption in the course of a Nigerian company’s business which required wiring a substantial amount overseas for a short period. Later it would be returned to Nigeria when the political situation stabilized. A fee would be paid for the “rental” of spouse’s employer’s bank account.

    He thought it might be legitimate, but sent a copy home with spouse. I think I may have already been aware of such schemes and alerted the boss that this was not legit. He seemed disappointed.

    Prudence prevents me adding any detail to this observation, but the boss was a bit of a skimmer himself. His scheme was brilliant, and undetectable. That might account for his willingness to believe that the Nigerian request was real – it wasn’t so far from something he might have done himself under the circumstances.

  9. Simpson Abraham

    I got the same notice of 900,000. can can help me out on this.

    simpson (Micronesia) Pacific

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