Shipping not included

As part of my Bahia Street volunteer work, I set up a storefront on Greeting Card Universe last year. The site sells some charming original cards designed by Fio, of the Bahia Street Center. Every once in a while, I check in on the site, but it mostly takes care of itself, a “nickel-generator” for Bahia Street. Cards sell, and small amounts of commission money go to my favorite nonprofit.

So I was a bit puzzled to get a garbled email the other day, with “Greeting Card Universe Feedback” as the subject. The person’s name was Abuga Jones — is that a man or a woman?

I’m interested in purchasing some Christmas card as a gift to some of my customers …..i will need like 50 pieces, could you kindly give me total cost………I will be responsible for the shipment of the card from your location using my private Shipping Company.So I want you to calculate for me what will be the total cost of the order the card,tax if included so once I have your reply for the total I will remit my credit card for you to charge for the total that you can have the order book right away.this is because i’m not in the state presently on offshore and i will not be back till 2 weeks time. I await your reply soon.

It sounded kind of weird, but I put that down to a non-English speaker, and I wrote back a polite reply:

Thank you for your interest in Bahia Street’s Brazilian Christmas cards. At the current time, we’re only offering them through Greeting Card Universe. They can send personalized cards out on your behalf, or you can order one batch of 50 at a discount.

best regards,

Margaret “Meps” Schulte
Bahia Street public affairs

I wasn’t expecting a reply, but Abuga wrote back fairly quickly:

Hello Thanks for the mail can you calculate 50 for me and let me know the amount and don”t worry about the shipping i will take care of that myself ok

“What an idiot!” I exclaimed to Barry. “I don’t want to be rude, but this person just doesn’t get it! Do you think it’s a scam?”

“Maybe, but it can’t hurt to tell them how much 50 cards would cost. Maybe they can’t do math,” said Barry, helpfully.

“Sure,” I muttered, “a business owner who can’t calculate the cost of a bunch of greeting cards.”

I sighed, and typed this out:

On Greeting Card Universe, 50 cards is $114.50, or $2.29 apiece. However, I can’t help you place the order. You’ll have to do that at

Finally, today, my friend Abuga revealed his hand. I was laughing so hard, I could hardly read this out loud to Barry:

Hello Margaret

How are you this morning i got the email you write to me and i ‘m so glad you gonna sale Greeting Card Universe for me I’m so much okay with the price of the Greeting Card Universe …..I will like you to know that the price is not a problem and i want you to know that i don”t have time because of my work to be doing that right now if you know that you want to help me i will send your my card information the price is not a problem which the $114.50.

More so you don’t have to worry about the shipping cos have already registered
with a shipping company that will come and pick the Greeting Card Universe up with a cooling van after you have done with them.

Christmas card cost $114.50
Shipping cost $850
Total cost $1100


Let me know if this suit you if yes you can get back with me with this following information so i can remit my card to you.


I await you quick reply…….

Barry and I once read an article about Nigerian scammers, and it described them as young men who get up in the morning, dress in nice clothes, and go to the Internet cafe, where they sit around with all the other nicely-dressed young men, sending scam emails. I can picture the fellow on the other side of my email exchange, sitting in one of those cafes, hoping that I will simply accept his fraudulent credit card payment and then wire the bogus “shipping charge” to his “shipper.”

Poor guy, he must be a beginner. Sure, people fall for this sort of thing, but they usually do it because of greed, and that means offering them thousands or millions of dollars. A woman in Oregon sent $400,000 dollars to a scammer over several years, because she was convinced that she’d get back $25 million. She became so obsessed, the only thing that stopped her from sending more money was that the police told her she’d be charged with money-laundering if she didn’t stop.

One reason she kept sending the money was the encouraging emails from George Bush and the President of Nigeria. That would set off my bullshit detector. As it is, “Abuga” has set off my bullshit detector with an $850 shipping charge on 50 greeting cards.

Unless I’m going to take up scambaiting as a time-consuming hobby, I think it’s time for me to stop writing back to Abuga. However, I’m considering sending this parting message:

Dear Abuga,
I don’t think the cooling van will be necessary. These are Brazilian Christmas Cards. They do not come with snow.

One thought on “Shipping not included

  1. I tend to delete most of those scams. “Scambaiting” does sound like an appealing hobby, though. I could find a use for some of my less “positive” traits without getting a conscience problem about it.

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