The Perfect Mark

By Deane Barker on May 10, 2006

The Perfect Mark: Here’s a gut-wrenching story in brutal detail about how a seemingly intelligent man got caught up in a Nigerian 419 email scam. The Nigerians were mercilessly brazen — sucking more and more money out of this guy right up until the end, and beyond. And he fell for everything.

What’s interesting is that it’s not just the mark’s money they take. They con the mark into passing counterfeit checks. This is what gets their conifdence up — they get a $400,000 check from Nigeria, are allowed to deposit it, then wire the money somewhere else. That must really get them believing that the Nigerians are legit.

When Worley got off the phone with [the bank investigator], he was enraged.

“I hate being taken advantage of by you evil bastards,” he wrote to Nduka. “This is all lies?” He went on, “Your day will come that you will be judged by God, and so will I. And I am ashamed, and shamed, and an embarrassment to my family, who are so precious and Godly people. What a terrible model of a Christian that I am. Thoughts of suicide are filling my mind, and I am full of rage at you despicable people. I hate living right now, and I want to die. My whole life is falling apart, my family, my ministry, my reputation and all that I have worked for all my life. Dear God, help me. I am so frightened.”

In May, 2005, Worley went on trial in U.S. District Court in Boston on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and possession of counterfeit checks.

Worley’s overseas correspondents, whose real identities he never knew, disappeared, and were never located or charged. With them went more than forty thousand dollars of Worley’s money and nearly six hundred thousand dollars from the checks. […]

Very, very sad. Via MetaFilter.



  1. not to start religion/faith/christianity bashing, but I think we found the crux of the problem:

    His only question was how Mbote had found him, and he seemed satisfied with the explanation: that the South African Department of Home Affairs had supplied his name. When Worley attributed this improbable event to God’s will, Mbote elaborated on the story to say that Worley’s name was one of ten that he had been given, and that it had been pulled from a hat after much prayer by someone named Pastor Mark.
  2. I saw that too, but the fact is, this guy just wanted to believe it was true, and he took that information as “proof” of it. It was the power of suggestion. There was some tenuous faith-based relationship to something he desparately wanted to believe, so he believed it.

    It all started with this guys gullibility, and his narcissim. Based on my reading of it, he wanted to be important. He wanted to matter more. He wanted to pay off all his children’s debts. Etc.

  3. This guy has been convicted and is on his way to the ol’ Graybar Hotel — he still thinks it’s real! You could say he’s naïve, but I think Deane had it right: he’s a narcissist. He wants to believe he’s so important that powerful people want his help.

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