In my role as Agony Uncle, I thought I'd share this letter with you that one of readers has sent in. Do feeel free to offer advice as to how I should reply to it...
Dear Uncle Iain,
Please warn readers of your blog of a cruel variation of the Nigerian internet scam which is all the more plausible because the chief scammer, Mr Big, has a London address (No. 11 Downing Street).
Last year I booked flights for my family’s 2007 holidays. Mr Big immediately demanded a £344 sweetener to let our family fly (including what he called an ‘air passenger tax’). I paid it in full, but then a few weeks later (6 Dec 2006) Mr Big told me that he wanted even more – in fact he wanted another £80. He claimed it was for a ‘Save the Planet’ scheme. I thought I wouldn’t have to pay because I’d booked and paid for my flights well before Mr Big’s demand for his second sweetener. But yesterday I heard he still wants my additional £80. He refuses to listen to pleas that I booked and paid for the flights well before he made his second demand. He said I should have read the small print. He’s now demanding the money with menaces – and I must pay up or my family can’t leave the UK.
I feel so sheepish – because in 1999 the same Mr Big told everyone he was going to replace their ‘married couples allowance’ with a better system called ‘child tax credit’. But in the small print (there’s that phrase again !) he ensured there was a year’s gap of no payments between one scheme finishing and the other scheme starting. Mr Big must have laughed for the whole 12 months after pulling that scam off.
So please warn your readers. We all know my extra £80 will never fund a ‘Save the Planet’ scheme and that Mr Big will ensure it's ultimate use will never be traced. But please ensure everyone is aware of how duplicitous Mr Big’s scams are – especially as I understand he might soon change his London address. And if he does move, even if it is just to the house next-door, I’m very worried that Mr Big will try to con us with even bigger scams in the future.