Our old friend, Mark Skousen has a new book out – Investing in One Lesson. A tight book, full of practical insights and advice, it is well worth reading. “While sleeping in a hotel room in Los Angeles,” he begins his story…“The phone rang.”
“I lifted the receiver and heard from a man who said he was a new subscriber to my newsletter service. His voice was intense and emotional. He said he was worried about an investment he had made in a ‘no load’ offshore commodity fund that had ‘guaranteed’ 25% annualised returns…”
As the story developed, it turned out that the man had put all his savings…and his wife’s money too…into an ‘investment’ that was an obvious fraud. That is, obvious to anyone who spent two minutes thinking about it. The man was a doctor…a successful man…an educated man. Apparently, he was also a very busy man – he didn’t have two minutes!
Yes, he was wiped out.
Meanwhile, we learned from other friends that the Nigerians are still in business. “Apparently, there are people who fall for their scams. They send a letter or an email explaining that they have a huge amount of money that they need to transfer to the United States…all they need is the help of an ordinary person with a bank account.
“You wouldn’t think that any one would be so dumb as to fall for it. Especially now that everyone has heard about these scams. They’ve been around for decades…and almost always from Nigeria. But I understand that they are getting a lot cleverer and now using other addresses. Still, it’s said to be a significant part of the entire Nigerian economy. A big source of foreign earnings.
“The TV show ‘60 Minutes’ followed up on one of these come-ons. They answered the letters and kept playing along until they had set up a meeting with the scamsters…in Miami, I think. Anyway…the reporter was supposed to meet the Nigerians so that he could give them US$5,000. There was a hidden camera watching. And those guys meant business…they weren’t fooling around. They wanted the money and they were going to get it.”
Markets and Money