Something Smells Rotten in Denmark… Oh Wait, it’s Danish Pastry

(Cross-posted from Livejournal entry of Oct. 12th, 2010)

♬ The sense of sight
Is what guides us right
When we go out on walks.
The sense of smell’s
The way you tell
That you need to change your socks. ♬
-Animaniacs, “The Senses”

Smell and taste are funny things. As anyone familiar with my Banquet from Hell could tell you, one man’s sweet savour is another woman’s “Jayzus Bejayzus Keep It Away!”

A lot of it’s chemical. How this molecule fits into that olfactory receptor or that taste bud. And how it all works is beyond me, given that some living creatures have noses jillionty-three times more sensitive than ours.

But it’s not all chemical. A lot of it goes on in our minds.

A case in point. One day in several years ago I walked into our bedroom, which we were keeping closed as we try to maintain it cooler than the rest of the house; at that time my mother, go ndéanai Día trocaire uirthi, was living with us, and at 94 she liked a warmer environment. I said to myself, “It smells like cat’s piss in here.” Impossible – while we now have three cats, at the time we had none, and we had been in the home for a month and a half. I racked my brain trying to figure out what was smelling so bad – it was making me ill.

And then it struck me. We had two large basil plants in the windowsill, and they were getting the benefit of full Southern exposure. The room was filled with the odor of basil. And I love basil. And as soon as my mind had identified the odor, it no longer smelled like cat pee, or repulsive in any way. Same molecules. Same smell. Just a different frame of reference, and my room smelled like an herb garden.

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Pesto waiting to happen

Would it be possible to re-frame one’s mindset so that evil humours are less offensive? Butyric acid is found in puke, but it’s also found in many cheeses. Nobody appreciates a technicolor yawn in public, but if you happen to be an honest to goodness turophile, the smell of a good, authentic European cheese shop is like unto ambrosia, and the smells are astonishingly familiar.

Mind you, some things are not worth the experiment. One of the last times I drove across the country in the spring, I passed through miles and miles of the most fragrant apple orchards in bloom that I have ever seen, followed by the most pungent – and literally lung-searing – stockyards I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. I don’t think I’d like to hang around and see if I could learn to appreciate that evil miasma.

Still, it was an interesting subject to think about. And now I’m craving a portion of gamalost.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine – 1904

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Old Orchard, Maine, circa 1904. “Alberta and Velvet hotels.” 8×10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. Black and White original found at Shorpy, wonderful colorization done by /u/kibblenbits

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Modern shot from approximately the same angle, dug up by /u/HarvieBirdman.

My wife grew up in Maine, and I’ve spent several summers there. It’s a beautiful place.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

25 Years of Dilbert

If you’ve worked in an office, you probably know Dilbert like you know your significant other. If, by the vagaries of chance, you do not… what are you waiting for?

On April 16, 1989, Scott Adams published the first Dilbert cartoon. Four days ago, the 25th anniversary of Adams’ amazing strip passed, with nary a hiatus or a break. Each episode resonates with someone in the business world, and amazingly, the well shows no sign of running dry, as the corporate world continues to be full of pointy-haired bosses, egomaniacal CEO’s, and maddening co-workers.

2419.strip.zoom

Don’t you just want to slap this guy? Haven’t we all know someone equally self-absorbed, clueless and abusive during our careers? How people like this ever get hired, and then manage to keep their jobs, is a total mystery to me – except the model has not gotten stale at all:

Boss

Adam Scott as Ted Hendricks in “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

Adams 25-year journey is full of wonders: good advice for dealing with abusive bosses and clueless co-workers, but also, if you read between the lines, a scathing commentary about the state of affairs in corporate America as well as pointers for those who want to be good bosses and good employees.  Adams follows up and expands on his philosophies over at the Dilbert Blog.

One of the most succinct analyses of what’s wrong with business today, and what could be right, is found in Adams’ book The Dilbert Principle; he calles it OA5 (Out at Five). I quote it here without permission and hope I don’t get sued by one of his army of lawyers:

New Company model: OA5

The key to good management is knowing what’s fundamental to success and what’s not.

Companies with effective employees and good products usually do well.

That might seem like a blinding flash of the obvious, but look around your company and see how many activities are at least one level removed from something that improves either the effectiveness of the people or the quality of the product. When I refer to product, I mean the entire product experience from the customer’s perspective including the delivery, image and channel.

Any activity that is one level removed from your people or your product will ultimately fail or have little benefit. It won’t seem like that when you’re doing it, but it is a consistent pattern.

It’s hard to define what I mean by being “one level removed” but you know it when you see it. Examples help:

  • If you are writing code for a new software release, that’s fundamental, because you’re improving the product. But if you’re creating a policy about writing then you’re one level removed.
  • If you’re testing a better way to assemble a product, that’s fundamental. But if you’re working on a task force to develop a suggestion system then you’re one level removed.
  • If you’re talking to a customer, that’s fundamental. If you’re talking about customers you’re probably one level removed.
  • If you’re involved in anything in the list below, you’re one level removed from the fundamentals of your company and you will not be missed if you are abducted by aliens.

Not fundamental

  • Quality Faire
  • Process Improvement Team
  • Recognition committee
  • Employee satisfaction survey
  • Suggestion system
  • ISO 9000
  • Standards
  • Policy improvement
  • Reorganization
  • Budget process
  • Writing vision statements
  • Writing mission statements
  • Writing an “approved equipment list”

These “one off” activities are irresistible. You can make a convincing argument for all of them. You couldn’t run a company, for example, without a budget process. I’m not suggesting you try. But I think you can focus more of your energy on the fundamentals (people and product) by following a simple rule for all the “one off” activities.

Rule for “one off” activities: consistency. Resist the urge to tinker. It’s always tempting to “improve ” the organization structure, or to rewrite the company policy to address a new situation, or to create committees to improve company morale. Individually, all those things seem to make sense. But experience shows that you generally end up with something that is no more effective than what you started with.

For example, companies tinker endlessly with the formula for employee compensation. Rarely does this result in happiness and more productive employees. The employees redirect their energies toward griping and preparing resumes, the managers redirect their energies toward explaining and justifying the new system.

The rule of consistency would direct you toward keeping your current compensation plan- warts and all- unless it is a true abomination. The company that focuses on fundamentals will generate enough income to make any compensation plan seem adequate.

The best example of a fruitless, “one off” activity that seems like a good idea is the reorganization. Have you seen an internal company reorganization that dramatically improved either the effectiveness of the employees or the quality of the product?

Sometimes there are indirect benefits because reorganization is a good excuse for weeding out the ninnies, but that hardly justifies the disruption. The rule of consistency would say it’s best to keep the organization as it is, unless there’s a fundamental shift in the business. Add or subtract people as needed, but leave the framework alone. Let the employees spend time on something besides reordering business cards.

Many of the ” one off” activities start taking care of themselves if you’re doing a good job with your people and your products. A Company with a good product rarely needs a Mission Statement. Effective employees will suggest improvements without being on a quality team. Nobody will miss the Employee recognition Committee if the managers are effective and routinely recognize good performance. The budget process will suddenly look very simple if you’re making money (by focussing on your products).

As far as consistency goes, I would make an exception for changes that are radical enough for “reengineering” a process. It is the fiddling I object to, not elimination or major streamlining.

Out at Five

I developed a conceptual model for a perfect company. The primary objective of this company is to make employees as effective as possible. The best products usually come from the most effective employees, so employee effectiveness is the most fundamental of the fundamentals.

The goal of the hypothetical company is to get the best work out of the employees and make sure they leave work by five o’ clock. Finishing by five o’clock is so central to everything that follows that I named the company OA5 (Out at five) to reinforce the point. If you let his part of the concept slip, the rest of it falls apart.

The goal of OA5 is to guarantee that the employee who leaves at 5 PM has done a full share of work and everybody realizes it. For that to happen an OA5 company has to do things differently than an ordinary company.

Companies use a lot of energy trying to increase the employee satisfaction. That’s nice of them, but let’s face it-work sucks. If people liked work they’d do it for free. The reason we have to pay people to work is that work is inherently unpleasant compared to the alternatives. At OA5 we recognize that the best way to make employees satisfied about their work is to help them get away from it as much as possible.

An OA5 company isn’t willing to settle for less productivity from the employees, just less time. The underlying assumptions for OA5 are:

  • Happy employees are more productive and creative than unhappy ones.
  • There’s a limit to how much happiness you can get while you’re at work. Big gains in happiness can only be made by spending more time away from work.
  • The average person is only mentally productive a few hors a day no matter how many hours are “worked”.
  • People know how to compress their activities to fit a reduced time. Doing so increases both their energy and their interests. The payoff is direct and personal –they go home early.
  • A Company can’t do much to stimulate happiness and creativity, but it can do a lot to kill them. The trick for the company is to stay out of the way. When companies try to encourage creativity it’s like a bear dancing with an ant. Sooner or later the ant will realize it’s a bad idea, although the bear might not.

Staying out of the way

Most people are creative by nature and happy by default. It doesn’t seem that way because modern management is designed to squash those impulses. An OA5 is designed to stay out of the way and let the good things happen. Here’s how:

  1. Let the employees dress any way they want, decorate their work places any way they want, format memos any way they want. Nobody has demonstrated that these areas have any impact on productivity. But when you “manage” those things you send a clear signal that conformity is valued above either efficiency or creativity. It’s better to get out of the way and reinforce the message that you expect people to focus on what’s important.
  2. Eliminate any artificial “creativity” processes in the company, such as the Employee Suggestion Plan or Quality Teams. Creativity comes naturally when you’ve done everything else right. If you have a good e-mail system, a stable organization chart, and an unstressed workplace the good ideas w2ill get to the right people without any help. The main thing is to let people know that creativity is okay and get out of the way.

What does an OA5 manager do?

“Staying out of the way” isn’t much of a job description for a manger. So if you want to be a manager in an OA5 company you’ll need to do actual work too. Here are the most useful activities I can think of for the manager:

  1. Eliminate the assholes. Nothing can drain the life force out of your employees as much as a few sadistic assholes who seem to exist for the sole purpose of making life hard for others.
  2. Make sure your employees are learning something every day. Ideally they should lean things that directly help on the job, but learning anything at all should be encouraged. The more you know, the more connections form in your brain and the easier every task becomes. Learning creates job satisfaction and supports a person’s ego and energy level. As an OA5 manager you need to make sure every person is learning something every day. Here are some ways :
  • Support requests for training even when not directly job related.
  • Share your own knowledge freely and ask others to do the same, ideally in small digestible chunks.
  • Make trade magazines and newspapers available
  • If the budget allows, try to keep employees in current computers and software. Make Internet connections available.
  • Support experimentation sometimes even when you know it’s doomed (if the cost is low).
  • Make teaching a part of everybody’s job description. Reward employees who do a good job of communicating useful information to co-workers.

Collectively all these little things create an environment that supports curiosity and learning. Imagine a job when after you’ve screwed up your boss says, “What did you learn?” instead of “What the hell were you thinking?”

  1. Teach employees how to be efficient. Lead by example, but also continuously reinforce the following behavior in others:
  • Do creative work in the morning and do routine, brainless work in the afternoon. For example, staff meetings should be held in the afternoon (if at all). This can have a huge impact on people’s actual and perceived effectiveness.
  • Keep meetings short. Get to the point and get on. Make it clear that brevity and clarity is prized. The reward for brevity is the ability to leave at 5 o’clock with a clear conscience. Every company says that brevity is good but only an OA5 company rewards it directly.
  • Blow off low priority activities and make it clear why. Don’t be sucked into an activity because it’s the polite thing to do. If it’s a “one off” activity, say no. Say why you’re saying no. Be direct.
  • Respectfully interrupt people who talk too long without getting to the point. At first it will seem rude. Eventually it gives everybody permission to do the same, and that’s a tradeoff that can be appreciated. Remember, there’s a reward-you get out at five.
  • Be efficient in little things. For example, rather than some Byzantine process for doling out office supplies, add $25 a month to each employee’s paycheck as a “supply stipend” and let employees buy whatever they need from their local store. If they spend less, they keep the difference.
  • If you create an internal memo with a typo, just line it out and send it. Never reprint it. Better yet, stick with e-mail.

A culture of efficiency starts with the everyday things that you can directly control: clothes, meeting lengths, conversations with co-workers and the like. The way you approach these everyday activities establishes the culture that will drive your fundamental activities.

What message does a company send when it huddles its managers together for several days to produce a Mission statement that sounds something like this:

“We design integrated world-class solutions on a worldwide basis”

Answer: it sends a message that the manager’s can’t write can’t think and can’t identify priorities.

Managers are obsessed with the big picture. They look for the big picture in Vision Statements and Mission statements and Quality programs. I think the big picture is hidden in the details. It is in the clothes, the office supplies, the causal comments and the coffee. I’m all for working for the big picture, if you know where to find it.

Finally- and this is the last time I’m going to say it- we’re all idiots and we’re going to make mistakes. That’s not necessarily bad. I have a saying ” Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

Keep your people fresh, happy and efficient. Set a target and get out of their way. Let art happen. Some times idiots can accomplish wonderful things.

Along with all the smiles and groans and winces and good entertainment, I’ve learned a lot from Adams and Dilbert along the way. Congratulations to Scott for a tremendous run, and I’m looking forward to the next 25 years, or as long as Adams feels motivated to keep Dilbert coming.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

Ekstra News ain der East Side! (1908)

NYC History In Pictures

© AP Photo/New York City Municipal Archives, Department of Bridges/Plants & Structures, Eugene de Salignac. Spotted at Distractify.

I love this photo, titled “Workers dig along Delancey Street, 1908.” It was taken a year before my father was born, and reflects a New York of which I only experienced whispers as I was growing up there in the 50s and 60s. But there were still hints and shadows, so the picture calls to me.

I love the fact that the Yiddish of New York was so heavily influenced by English that the sign is almost a direct transliteration of the English text, with little bits of  German/Hebrew thrown in.

With all its incredible history, warts and all, I ❤ NY. I wish only that I could afford to live there in the style to which I have become accustomed (meaning, comfortable and safe.)

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Packaging Snake Oil

I’ve posted numerous times about health-related scams and sleazy marketing. For this reason, I have no small sense of irony spending time as a temp worker for a local nutraceutical company that serves many herbal and health-food concerns. Today I spent 8 hours helping to package about a million capsules of… wait for it… garcinia cambogia.

Temp work is fine, I guess. It’s pretty mindless work, although it can be physically demanding, and it provides some income where there would otherwise be none. But as one works, one’s mind drifts to the customers who will be buying this stuff at grossly inflated prices, thinking that this is the magic bullet to help them lose weight; it’s not, and they won’t. They’re just throwing money away on a powdered fruit product of dubious value.

Petroleum

From “Lucky Luke 18 – In the Shadow of the Derricks”

008

Competition was also lively in the 1740′s among some half a dozen proprietors marketing a form of crude petroleum under the name of British Oil. Early in the decade Michael and Thomas Betton were granted a patent for “An Oyl extracted from a Flinty Rock for the Cure of Rheumatick and Scorbutick and other Cases.” The source of the oil, according to their specifications, was rock lying just above the coal in mines, and this rock was pulverized and heated in a furnace to extract all the precious healing oil. (Old English Patent Medicines in America, George B. Griffenhagen and James Harvey Young. Found at the Gutenberg Project.)

Snake-oil salesmen have been around since the dawn of time. Sometimes they took the guise of shamans or medicine men – now they’re just con men and marketing specialists. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am a proponent of optimal nutrition including an adequate intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and co-factors, and there is a significant body of peer-reviewed science that documents beneficial effects from many natural sources: fruits, vegetables, plants, herbs, chemicals (think of aspirin), and so on. I have nothing against natural remedies, especially when there is adequate proof to show that they are effective. What rubs me the wrong way more than anything are the outrageous claims touted by advertorials and infomercials, picked up on by celebrities such as Oprah and Dr. Oz, and marketed in multiple millions of dollars to the gullible proletariat.

The nutritional industry is a trillion-dollar scam waiting to happen, and very little of what is sold imparts benefit commensurate with price paid. Add to that the fact that the landscape is so unregulated that one can claim almost anything as long as you include the standard disclaimer that your product is not intended to cure, prevent, diagnose or treat any disease, and that your claims are not approved by the FDA. That makes nutritional labeling similar to the CAN-SPAM act… you can get away with selling the moon as long as you word it right.

Let’s look at another product: Galaxy juice marketed by Joy Life international, a Chinese MLM company.

From their web page:

——–

GALAXY HIGH IMPACT JUICE BLEND

  1. Boosts energy levels in a novel way
  2. Contains a unique proprietary blend of antioxidant ingredients that may slow-down the aging process
  3. Enhances ability to focus and concentrate
  4. Taken with breakfast, this product has the singular unique property of reducing stress and in some manner enhances a positive outlook for the rest of the day
Ingredients:  Water, Super Fruit Blend: (Acia, Pineapple, White Grape, Pomegranate, Red Raspberry, Aronia, Red Grape, Cranberry, Elder-berry, Plum, Red Sour Cherry, Mangosteen, Goji), Chicory Root Extract, Xylitol, Super Food Blend: (Barley, Cayenne Pepper, Buckwheat, Flaxseed, Alfalfa Sprout, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Soy Isoflavones (40% Extract). Garlic 4:1, Wheatgrass 33:1), Antioxidant Blend: (Green Tea Extract, Alpha Lipoic Acid, DMAE, Idebenone, Ascorbic Acid), Citric Acid, Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate.
——–
If this stuff boosts energy levels, it does so because of the natural sugars contained in the fruit blend, which is hardly novel; but I especially love the “in some manner,” which conjures up visions of handwavium and unobtainium. Don’t ask questions, it just works. Remember that Chinese medicine has largely been marketed to a Chinese population, a large percentage of whom are essentially ignorant of modern scientific realities. Were it not so, the rhinoceros would not be an endangered species today.
In Bernard Read’s translation of the 1597 Chinese materia medica “Pen Ts’ao Kang Mu”, the complete section on rhinoceros horn (“the best is from a freshly killed male animal”) reads as follows, with no mention of any aphrodisiac qualities:

“It should not be taken by pregnant women; it will kill the foetus. As an antidote to poisons (in Europe it was said to fall to pieces if poison were poured into it). To cure devil possession and keep away all evil spirits and miasmas. For gelsemium [jasmine] and snake poisoning. To remove hallucinations and bewitching nightmares. Continuous administration lightens the body and makes one very robust. For typhoid, headache, and feverish colds. For carbuncles and boils full of pus. For intermittent fevers with delirium. To expel fear and anxiety, to calm the liver and clear the vision. It is a sedative to the viscera, a tonic, antipyretic. It dissolves phlegm. It is an antidote to the evil miasma of hill streams. For infantile convulsions and dysentery. Ashed and taken with water to treat violent vomiting, food poisoning, and overdosage of poisonous drugs. For arthritis, melancholia, loss of the voice. Ground up into a paste with water it is given for hematemesis [throat hemorrhage], epistaxis [nosebleeds], rectal bleeding, heavy smallpox, etc. (Found at Save the Rhino)

But how is Galaxy juice being represented to their sales force, and hence by the sales force to potential customers? As an anti-cancer agent. Now, if US reps don’t want to run afoul of the FDA, they won’t say anything about that in a direct manner, but have a look at some of the slides from their own inspirational Powerpoint presentation:

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slide-41-728[1]

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slide-43-728[1]

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Joy Life found a willing scientist, gave him a research grant, and wildly extrapolated his results. And a bottle of this fruit/grain concoction sells for $130.00 in China. Is it worthless? Well, looking at the ingredients, it’s probably a good source of antioxidants, but it won’t cure cancer, and it’s hardly worth the end-user price. Let it also be mentioned that Joy Life sells a few other things in the USA that are highly questionable, including:
  • The “Energy Cup“, a filtration system that ‘converts everyday drinking water into ionized, alkaline water, helping sustain the body’s natural pH levels
  •  The  “Anion Emitter” which is supposed to  ‘contain semi-precious stones infused with proprietary frequencies that carry a negative charge‘ designed to ‘bring the body into balance and energetic homeostasis while restoring health and reducing pain‘
  • The “Cation Shield“, Joy Life claiming it ‘helps strengthen your body’s bio-field while bathing you with the beneficial effects of negative ions to help combat EMFs.

Things of this nature fall directly into the quackery zone, and I’m astonished that they can get away with marketing this sort of garbage.

Fortunately for me, I won’t be working at this particular outlet much longer; another opportunity has come up which strikes me as being much more upstanding and worthwhile. But the size and scope of the former enterprise made me realize once again that the business of separating people from their hard-earned cash often has very little to do with providing honest value in return.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Followup to the Irish Lottery scammer

I mentioned a scam email from a Nigerian scammer earlier, and decided to yank their chains a bit. In the process, I discovered that these Lads from Lagos were a bit more inventive than the rest of their crowd.

So I wrote to “Mr. Stephanie Hughston” (is that anything like a Boy Named Sue?) just to see how they played their game.

To: transfer-online@ntwstbonline.co.uk
From: [redacted]
Subject: Contact Mr. Stephanie Hughston Re: Irish Prize

To whom it may concern:

I have been requested by Mr. Thomas Parker, online coordinator for the Irish Lottery, to contact you regarding the claim of my prize of €700,000, which is most wonderful. Please forward further details. I have included my data for your convenience.
Sincerely yours,
Wolfington X. Analemma
Here’s what came back:
From: NATWEST BANK ONLINE <transfer-online@ntwstbonline.co.uk>
To: [redacted]

Subject: RE: Contact Mr. Stephanie Hughston Re: Irish Prize

Attention: Wolfington X. Analemma,

 Compliment of the day to you from RBS Bank, we are here to serve you better. I am Mr. Stephanie Hughston, the Operations Executive/ Officer at NatWest Bank of London. We are in receipt of your demand draft approval from IRISH NATIONAL IRELAND/UK for the transfer of your prize amount with effective, safe and secure service. This bank has been instructed by the Irish National Lottery Anniversary Department,  to transfer the sum of €700,000.00 EUROinto an account in your name, in which your funds (BANK DRAFT) will be deposited to enhance further transfer to your local bank account into your Country.

  Meanwhile Wolfington X. Analemma You may give us a call during working hours for brief explanation via communication sequel to this funds transfer from this great Institution. Where finding Banking at its best. You may call my direct line for easy communication.   <+447010089271> 

  We are mandated by the IRISH NATIONAL IRELAND/UK to transfer the sum of 700,000.00 EURO, which was indicated by Head office (Irish National Lottery Board Ireland/UK.) to receive from this bank. Note however that payment will be transferred into a temporary online OFFSHORE Domiciliary bank account with us, which we enable you transfer the funds online into your local bank account in your Country . You will be free to ascertain a limited confirmation on this account and amount as it appears. More so in view to your e-mail to us, Irish National Lottery Board has issued out your fund particulars, origin certificate forwarded to our association head department of the NatWest Bank Plc by the Company Board for fund release which has been received by the Bank. This means that you have being officially cleared for fund release by the Verification Department at the headquarters of the NATWEST Bank Plc.

  To begin the Final step of the funds transfer process, which is the Payout of your funds as the legitimate beneficiary worth 700,000.00 EURO, with regards to this; you will have to set up an online temporary account for your winning prize online transfer to your local bank account in your Country.

ACCOUNT TRANSFER FORM
First Name________________
Last Name _______________
Residential Address_______________
Country Of Residence______________
City_____________
State________________
Zip Code________________
Valid Telephone Number________________
Office Telephone Number_______________
Date Of Birth ______________

NOTE: A SCAN COPY OF ANY OF YOUR IDENTITY CARD IS ALSO REQUIRED (PASSPORT OR DRIVER LICENSE)

   You are required to fill and send the form above to this office as soon as possible. On the above instructions, we solicit your co-operation to enable us dispense our duties and obligations swiftly. Thanking you in anticipation for your cooperation. Accept our felicitation and your immediate response is expected. We await your response. We thank you for your trust in our Banking System.

Thank you for your patronage.
Have a nice Day.

NATWEST BANK UK
London Branch Address:

45 Fulham Broadway,

London, UK,

United Kingdom

Telephone:  
+44 701 008 9271
Branch Banking Timing

Monday-Friday: 09:00 – 17:00

Saturday: 09:00 – 12:30

Sunday / Bank Holiday: No Banking
If this guy’s from London, I’m from Madagascar. The English is typical Mugu-ese, which is no surprise – and of course, the phone prefix is (44 70) which goes to somewhere else in the world. I send the requested information, along with a bogus driver’s license.
To: Mr. Wolfington X. Analemma
From: Mr Nashit Khan
Ref: Online Account Opened,Proceed with transfer online!

 
Attn: Mr. Wolfington X. Analemma
Dear Client,
Sir/Madam,


Thank you for contacting the NatWest Banking Institute London , At NatWest we seek to delight all our customers.Your questions and comments are important to us. Your mail has been received.
 

 I would like to say congratulations once again as your new account has been successfully set-up and credited. This is a notification to inform you that your account has been created/setup online from our transfer department to enable you transfer your funds to your nominated account online.


Please Note that you have a temporary Offshore Domiciliary account, the reason is because you are not our full client banking with us and because your account opening was free.


All temporary users must transfer their funds within two weeks,for this account is a temporary account. if it exceeds two weeks,your account will be inactive and can’t access statement of your account.


To Avoid this, all transfer must be made on time.

Here are the details of your Offshore Domiciliary account. You are required to Log into your internet Online Banking.

Here are the procedures to log in:


1: 
Click Here

Then click on  ” Click here to enter “

2: When the Pop up Window Display please enter your Account Number and Pin.


ACCOUNT NO:  
0777121047
PIN : 949

If this procedures are followed orderly,you won’t find it difficult to Log in. After you have successfully log into your account, you are to click of transfer and wait while a new page opens for you to input your bank account receiver details and click on transfer to proceed for your online transfer.


On the above instructions, we solicit your co-operation to enable us dispense our duties and obligations swiftly. Thanking you in anticipation for your cooperation. Accept our felicitation and your immediate response is expected. We await your response


We thank you for your trust in our Banking System. Do have a wonderful day as we look forward to providing you with all the best of our service. We await your swift response in other for we to proceed with your transactions.


Have a nice Day.

Regards,

Mr. Stephanie Hughston

NATWEST BANK UK

London Branch Address:

45 Fulham Broadway,

London, UK,

United Kingdom

Telephone:  +44 701 008 9271

Branch Banking Timing

Monday-Friday: 09:00 – 17:00

Saturday: 09:00 – 12:30

Sunday / Bank Holiday: No Banking
Just as a point of interest, notice that it’s hard to tell if the email is from Stephanie Hughston or Mr. Nashit Khan. I followed the indicated link, and got the following screen:
NatWest1
Clicking on the appropriate link I am taken to an official-looking popup:
NatWest2
which, when I have entered the “data” they provided me, sends me to another website:
ScamBank
Wow, it really looks like they’ve deposited a bunch of money into this account. Most of the Nigerian scammers don’t go to the trouble of setting up phony websites like this. At any rate, I click on the “transfer money” link and I get this:
ScamBank2
with an official-looking progress bar, but then this happens:
ScamBank3
Well, they didn’t mention anything about a “COT Code,” so I dutifully contact my “account officer:”
Greetings,
I have done as you recommended, however when I attempt to make the transfer I am presented with a screen that asks for a COT code. Please advise how to proceed.
-Wolfington X. Analemma
And back comes the “money shot:”
From: Mr. Stephanie Hughston
To: Mr. Wolfington X. AnalemmaRef: COT Code requirement by NatWest Bank.

Attn: Mr. Wolfington X. Analemma
Dear Client,
Sir
Compliment of the day to you.

Thank you for contacting the NatWest Banking Institute London , At NatWest we seek to delight all our customers.Your questions and comments are important to us. Your mail has been received, and we are pleased to inform you that we have received approval for the transfer of (€700,000.00 EURO) to your local nominated bank account. Sequel to the information of your files in our system and the immediate need of transfer of funds to your account.

The remittance department of the NatWest Banking Institute London hereby write to inform you that, Your transfer of funds would only be fully transferred to your account immediately the cost of handling charges/Transfer is been paid by you as the beneficiary of the funds as deposited with our bank. We shall provide you with the code as soon as you pay for its cost.

Sir, COT code is known as (COST OF TRANSFER ), It is a code that is given by the Head Department of NatWest bank to complete your online transfer of funds into your local bank account in United State . The Cot code charged for your online funds transfer into your local bank account is (€645 EURO).

Mr. Wolfington X. Analemma, the COT code will be release to you sooner we confirm your payment for cot code charge. Sir, I would like to speak with you upon acknowledgement of this email for Instruction on how to make payment for your cot code charges or via email for the payment instruction.

Note that your total amount has been insured to its real value as the funds have been deposited with a cover premium insurance bonded draft and as such funds cannot be deducted. This is in accordance with Article 44 Sub Section 144 of the England banking commission regulations as amended in the 1999 constitution. This is to protect clients and to avoid Misappropriation of funds.

On the above instructions, we solicit your co-operation to enable us dispense our duties and obligations swiftly. Thanking you in anticipation for your cooperation. Accept our felicitation and your immediate response is expected. We await your response.We thank you for your trust in our Banking System.

We await your swift response in other for we to proceed with your transactions.
Have a nice Day.
Regards,
Mr. Stephanie Hughston

When I asked how this “COT Code” is to be paid, this was the response:
To: Mr. Wolfington X. Analemma
From: Mr. Stephanie HughstonRef: COT Code requirement & Payment Instruction.

Attn: Mr. Wolfington X. Analemma
Dear Client,
Sir/Madam,
Compliment of the day to you.

Thank you for contacting the NatWest Banking Institute London , At NatWest we seek to delight all our customers.Your questions and comments are important to us. Your mail has been received and the content was well understood.

The remittance department of the NatWest Bank,United Kingdom hereby write to inform you that, Your transfer of funds would only be fully transferred to your account immediately the cost of handling charges/Transfer is been paid by you as the beneficiary of the funds as deposited with our bank. We shall provide you with the code as soon as you pay for its cost.

The cost of handling charges for your transfer of funds is €645 EURO . This cost of handling charges must be paid without delay to enable the speedy transfer of your funds to your Account. Find below the amount to make for the transfer of funds to your account:

Sum Total: €645 EURO

Sequel to your email, the total payment of €645 EURO should be paid via the nearest Money Gram outlet close to you. You are to pay a total €645 EURO only. This cost of handling charges/transfer must be paid without delay to enable the speedy transfer of your funds to your Account upon applying the cot code online . Find below the amount charge for cot code to enable the speedy release of funds to your account :

This payment for the COT is to be made out to the account department agent of our Money Gram receiving Unit, here in London,. She is the bank’s Account Officer by the Money Gram transfer Service from overseas customers only.
Please you are advices to make the payment to;

ACCOUNT AGENT DETAILS:
Name of Receiver: MRS. KATE JEFFERSON
Address: LONDON WC2A 2AE,
UNITED KINGDOM.

You are require to get back to us with the information below after payment.

1. Name of Sender ………
2. Address of Sender ……..
3. Total Amount Sent ……….
4. Reference Number . (REF 8digit)………….

NOTE: A SCAN COPY OF YOUR MONEY GRAM PAYMENT SLIP SHOULD BE ATTACHED VIA EMAIL TO THIS OFFICE FOR REFERENCE PURPOSE.

The Money Gram service provides a flexible means of sending funds overseas and also we make such transaction in our bank, and has been specially designed to meet your business needs in terms of cost and speedy Payments are sent using an electronic bank-to-bank transfer. which is suitable for both urgent and less time critical payments and enables the secure transfer of funds from the United Kingdom to overseas beneficiaries. When we receive the above payment information we shall immediately dispense our duties by releasing the cot code to complete your transfer into your Nominated bank as applied online for your transfer.

On the above instructions, we solicit your co-operation to enable us dispense our duties and obligations swiftly. Thanking you in anticipation for your cooperation. Accept our felicitation and your immediate response is expected. We await your response.We thank you for your trust in our Banking System.

Note: Give me a call as soon as your payment is done and provide details as requested respectively. We await your swift response in other for we to proceed with your transactions.

So now we’re back to the regular protocol. “Send us money via Western Union.” If I have not repeated this advice enough throughout this blog, here it is again: NEVER DO THIS. It’s always a scam. I told the drone I’d send him the money later that day. A couple of days go by, and I get this from him:
To: Mr. Wolfington X. Analemma
From: Mr. Stephanie HughstonRef: COT Code requirement & Payment Instruction.

Attn: Mr. Wolfington X. Analemma
Dear Client,
Sir/Madam,
Compliment of the day to you.

Thank you for contacting the NatWest Banking Institute London , At NatWest we seek to delight all our customers.Your questions and comments are important to us. Your mail has been received and the content was well understood.

Sir, what is the status of your payment as earlier promised?.

NOTE: A SCAN COPY OF YOUR MONEY GRAM PAYMENT SLIP SHOULD BE ATTACHED VIA EMAIL TO THIS OFFICE FOR REFERENCE PURPOSE.

The Money Gram service provides a flexible means of sending funds overseas and also we make such transaction in our bank, and has been specially designed to meet your business needs in terms of cost and speedy Payments are sent using an electronic bank-to-bank transfer. which is suitable for both urgent and less time critical payments and enables the secure transfer of funds from the United Kingdom to overseas beneficiaries. When we receive the above payment information we shall immediately dispense our duties by releasing the cot code to complete your transfer into your Nominated bank as applied online for your transfer.

On the above instructions, we solicit your co-operation to enable us dispense our duties and obligations swiftly. Thanking you in anticipation for your cooperation. Accept our felicitation and your immediate response is expected. We await your response.We thank you for your trust in our Banking System.

Note: Give me a call as soon as your payment is done and provide details as requested respectively. We await your swift response in other for we to proceed with your transactions.

Have a nice Day.
Regards,
Mr. Stephanie Hughston

He’s wondering where his money is. Sometimes, as you have seen before, I’ll send him a bogus MTCN and scan of a Western Union receipt just to see how many times I can get him scurrying back to Western Union to pick up non-existent funds, but this time I feel like it’s time to pull the plug.
To: NATWEST BANK ONLINE <transfer-online@ntwstbonline.co.uk>
From: [redacted]
Subject: Status of Payment

Cc:

Oh, did you actually think I was going to send you some money? I’m sorry I won’t be there to see the disappointment on your face. I’ve had fun wasting your time and getting your hopes up.You are a liar, a scammer, and a criminal. May Olumba Olumba Obu send black powder, disease and death to you and every other 419 onioburu.

Dem no born you reach, mugu – u no fit comot face, just skip along.

nigerians

gameover
And their response?
cricket… cricket… cricket…
Once again, be careful out there. This one was well-crafted enough (despite the bad English, which amazingly some people won’t pick up on) to fool vulnerable or ill-informed individuals. Protect and educate your loved ones against this kind of douchebaggery.
The Old Wolf has spoken.