Nigerian Scams Move into Solar?

I received this brief missive in my email box last night. Fascinating, but true, Nigerian scams appear to be moving into solar. Does that mean solar has grown up?

The email read:

“Dear sir/Madam,

This is to introduce our co. to you that we are in Uganda (East Africa) andwe kindly request you to give us prices of the 75watts and 80watts of solarmodules Please, we kindly request you to make all pricesin USD that are cif Entebbe airport.We shall be very happy for the quckest response.

rgds Lutaya Macon the behalf of

MM. GENERAL MERNDISE PLOT NO.4 BOMBO RD P.O BOX 5435 KAMPALA UGANDA EAST AFRICATEL: +256-772-579326″

It looks like a classic Nigerian scam, where after making contact, one eventually receives the opportunity to pay or front some money, in order to unlock illgotten gains that they will pay into your account later – but of course never do.

I get one of these every day, and as usual:

– it came from a hotmail or free account but purported to represent a legit business or a scam opportunity,
– came from an African country addressed to Dear Sir/Madam,
– very polite if unsophisticated writing style (complete with abbrev.),
– had a very long generic sounding PO Box address
– had nothing to do with my business, but acted like it did (I don’t actually sell solar cells, I just write about them).

They’ve been getting more sophisticated over the years – and now rarely ask for money up front, instead trying to lure you into some sort of a business relationship first. But it’s still a Nigerian scam.

Here’s the rub – never in the 10 + years I’ve been getting these things, have I seen one using solar cells as the bait!

Obviously the solar industry’s sex appeal is transcending boundaries and attracting the “wrong” kind of attention. But that’s good right? Does it mean the industry has “made it”? Your guess is as good as mine.

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, a Contributing Author for Inside Greentech, and a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks.

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