by John Stewart
Retired Printer Tells
Story, Offers Advice
was pleasantly surprised by the reaction I received to “Blessed are the stupid, for they
my October 2009 column dealing with the infamous
“Nigerian scam.” As I noted in the column, until
shall inherit Nigeria.”
you’ve had a chance to thoroughly understand how where (to pay for the shipping) until we had full payment
the scam works, you think to yourself, “I can’t believe in our hands. Yet, even though I knew something might
anyone would be so gullible as to fall for that.” be wrong, it was a tempting order, even with my 25 years
After the column appeared, I heard from a dozen or so of experience!
printers who wanted to share their own stories, and oth- “We never considered that the scam was the freight
ers who called or wrote to say that they had heard of the company. Unbelievable! I knew something wasn’t right,
scam, but candidly admitted they never fully understood but I could not figure out the scam. It’s all in the freight.
how it worked. There was no way they would use our freight company,
One reader who wrote was Tom Stevens from K.K. even at half the cost. And once we would send the pay-
Stevens Publishing, Astoria, IL. He wrote, “Thank you for, ment, no one would have ever picked up the product.
as Paul Harvey would say, ‘now for the rest of the story.’” Unbelievable. So clever.”
Stevens mentioned that he was familiar with the scam Rest assured, these gentlemen are the fortunate ones.
and forwarded a letter he had received, and concluded There are others, hopefully few in number, who have
that, “We realized it was a scam when we got the first indeed been taken by this very scam. Once the wire trans-
email, but we were always curious how it worked. ” fer to cover shipping charges has been sent, you are out of
Another email came from Steve Singer, president of luck—even though you feel you are completely protected,
Micro Format. Singer’s company produces security paper since the money sent by the wire transfer is in your bank
products. He wrote: “Thank you for your article, John… account as the result of a credit card deposit.
After 25+ years in business, we have seen our share of Unfortunately, the credit card you used will turn out to
scams. But since September I have been exchanging mes- be stolen, and your account will be debited. And worse,
sages with what I thought was a company in Japan. They you will be blessed by having 42 cartons containing
wanted to purchase nine cartons of security paper. I knew 105,000 11x17" flyers imprinted in reflex blue with some
something wasn’t right, but I just could not put my finger wonderful, inspirational message. Probably something
on it. In Japan they use A4 size paper (8.25x11.7"), not our like, “Blessed are the stupid, for they shall inherit Nigeria.”
American standard size 8.5x11", but this didn’t seem to
matter to this customer.” A California Printer Retires
Singer went on to explain a series of email exchanges I received the following email from a fellow printer.
with the Japanese client, including, almost in pass- While I never had the chance to meet this printer person-
ing, the request that his company use a specific freight ally, I have known of him for many years, and know his
company located in the U.K. The U.K. freight compa