Luke Skywalker sat before his new computer, the second one that is, and flexed his fingers in anticipation. He still needed to go online and go read those reviews on podracing games. There had been one thing he had enjoyed doing on Tatooine and that had been speeding through the canyons and shooting at womp rats. Sure, his old airspeeder couldn't compare to a podracer in terms of speed, but he had pushed it to its limit. Zipping around the dangerous curves with the hot wind in his face had been thrilling and he was eager to try his hand at virtual podracing.
"This time I have set up your email with an automatic spam box, Luke." Vader had told him earlier in the day after giving Luke the new computer. "Now you shouldn't have to worry about getting junk emails. And if you do get an email from a strange person, just delete it."
Luke had nodded his head. Truthfully, he had never heard of a spam box or a spam filter before. And how could his email know which messages was spam and which might be ones from people he knew? What if Lando decided to send him a letter for some reason, not that Lando knew his email address, but still...he just couldn't see how it worked.
Wasting little time, Luke quickly signed onto the Intergalactic Web. Clicking on his email box, he was disappointed to see that is was empty. His blue eyes shifted around the screen and he quickly found a little tab marked SPAM. Curious as to what junk mail he might have received since yesterday, Luke clicked on it. "It can't hurt to just LOOK at the messages titles, can it?"
Agreeing with himself that it was harmless, Luke saw many more claiming he won or could win cash, free items or gift cards. "Ha! I know better than to click on you know, scammers!"
Luke laughed and sneered at the messages in the SPAM box as he reached for his big bowl of Mini Cocoa Death Stars cereal. The stuff made a great snack dry from the box and he had started eating it as if it were cookies or crackers, popping the little round black balls into his mouth. Hyper after munching on the stuff, he bounced slightly in his chair and kicked his legs about. He was about to close the spam box when he realized one of the messages had a different title, HELLO FRIEND.
"I wonder who emailed me?" Luke asked as he moved the mouse to hover over the title. Part of the return address was visible but it meant nothing to him, as he didn't really know his friends' email addresses. Could it really be from Lando or some other friend? And if it was, was it OK to open it to look? "Well, I guess as long as I don't click on any links in it I should be OK..."
And so Luke clicked on the title, opening the message.
Dear Kind Sir,
With warmest regards I send you this letter. Please excuse my bad language as Basic is not my native tongue. My young daughters and I desperately need your assistance, as we are stranded here on the horrible planet of Nal Hutta, home of the monstrous Hutts. My husband, who has recently passed away after arriving here, has dragged us here against our wishes. I had no choice but to obey him, as he was a very vile and strong man. I never wished to marry him, but my father forced me into it and now I am stuck here without friends to call on for aid. I have heard of your great deeds and do hope you will come to my assistance.
My late husband was a wealthy man and has left us a handsome sum of forty million Basic Credits. The credits are in an account that I can access but I am truly fearful that my late husband's crooked business partners will soon steal this right from under my nose, leaving me and my daughters beggars on the street or worst. You see, they have many connections with the local authorities and I have none, so this is very possible. I wish to leave this horrid swampy place so we can start a new life of our own, but need outside assistance in moving the forty million credits off world. I would be willing to give you twenty percent if you will help me in this endeavor. Time is running out and I don't know how long it will be before I lose the money forever.
I hope I can trust you to help me. Please reply as soon as possible, as our lives and livelihood are at stake. My daughters are only five and seven. They deserve better than growing up in this horrible cesspool of corruption. I hope someday they can run free in grassy fields of wildflowers and be free of this swamp.
Please, won't you help me save my babies?
Luke read the letter once, twice and a third time. He was sure he had never met a Nina Yowizaa before but as a Jedi surely he should help her? His math may be a tad rusty, but the computer told him that twenty percent of forty million was eight million dollars. Surely she wasn't offering him eight million dollars, was she? That sounded insane, more insane than the other bogus offers he had clicked on just yesterday.
"But I guess she is desperate to get off Nal Hutta." Luke said as he remembered how vile Jabba the Hutt had been. The Hutts were an intergalactic race of criminals. They did anything they wished, more or less.
After skimming over the letter a fourth time, Luke realized she hadn't specified where on Nal Hutta she was stuck. "Hmmm.... it would be very difficult to send a rescue ship without knowing an exact location..."
Luke punched the REPLY button.
I am deeply sorry to hear of your husband's death. I would be pleased to help you escape Nal Hutta, as I know firsthand how vile the Hutts are. Please tell me your location so I may arrange a proper rescue.
Luke reread his short note and smiled. He would be a proper Jedi and help an innocent woman and her daughters escape the Hutts. He would get Han involved once he had a better location, the name of a city or town. He wouldn't even need the eight million she had offered. He hit SEND and he watched his letter disappear into cyberspace.
A short time later he was alerted that he had a new message. To his surprise, it was from Nina.
I am so happy that you want to help me. I was sure that my poorly written message would go ignored, but you have restored my faith that there are still kind and helpful people in this galaxy. Everyone here is so vile and cruel. I hate to think what this horrible environment is teaching my poor babies.
Please, you must help me secure my funds before I can leave Nal Hutta. I dare not withdraw it as credits as surely I'd be robbed the moment I stepped out of the bank! The same would happen if they put it on a chip for me. I do not trust these Hutt bankers all that much, either. I am sure they would be more than happy to tell some friend that I'm leaving the building with a chip worth forty million and well, you know what would happen then! And please remember I have two young daughters. I worry they might get injured in the scuffle over the credits or chips. I cannot allow that to happen to my daughters. It is that bad here. I need to send the funds to where you are, electronically. Please tell me what planet you are on now.
You are my only hope of getting off this awful planet! Please don't disappear on me now!
Luke read the letter twice and nodded. Yes, he saw her point. "Those vile Hutts! They're just the awful slobs that would rob an innocent lady on the street!"
Fingers flying over his keyboard, Luke typed a reply.
I'm on Coruscant. But I am unfamiliar with electronic transfers, as I never did that before. Could you please explain it to me?
Luke visited the video game review site and read a few reviews on podracing games, taking notes on what he read. He still was unsure which game would be best so he needed to think about it. One of them had very realistic visuals and a super-challenging course, so he was leaning towards buying that one.
Remembering Nina, he checked his email and sure enough, a new message from her was waiting.
Coruscant is very, very far away. I talked to the bank and they said it would take six thousand credits to send the forty million all the way to Coruscant. Could you please send me the six thousand credits? For helping me in this endeavor, I will happily give you twenty percent of my forty million, so that will more than pay you back for the six thousand credits.
Here is where you should send the credits:
Please hurry! I fear my late husband's business partners are moving in to steal it from me! If that happens, I fear my daughters and I will end up as slaves. The Hutts would love to have my daughters as slaves, as they are very beautiful. Here, look at this picture I took of them a few months ago. You won't let them wind up as slaves, will you?
Sending the money is very simple. Just go to your banking institution on Coruscant and tell them to send the amount to the number I gave you.
Luke, you are my only hope,
Luke blinked, his hand frozen halfway to his mouth with a Mini Cocoa Death Star gripped between thumb and forefinger. Did he read that right? "I don't believe it! She's asking ME for money when she has forty million!"
The Jedi thought of the few lousy credits he had in his pocket, just enough to buy lunch. He certainly didn't have a thousand! What did she think he was, a Sith Lord? These days it seemed the Sith possessed all the wealth while the Jedi were scrounging for a few credits. He bit his lip, unsure what he should do.
"Hmmm..." Luke pondered the problem. "Obi-Wan always said that honesty was best. Maybe I should just tell her I don't have that amount."
I would really love to help you, but I'm afraid I don't have anywhere near six thousand. In fact, I don't even have one thousand or even five hundred credits. I'm just a poor pilot really. Wouldn't you prefer a regular rescue? I'm sure we could protect you, the credit chip and your daughters if my buddies and me came to get you in person. My friend is poor, too, but he has this beated up old freighter that's pretty fast. We could swoop in and take you away from Nal Hutta.
Please let me know if this plan sounds good to you.
A short while later Luke got a new reply.
Can't you borrow the money from someone so you can send it to me? Surely you must know someone on Coruscant that has a bit of wealth? It is the capitol of the Empire, you know! There are loads of credits just floating around on that planet. Just find six thousand credits and you'd receive a huge profit in return!
I'm counting on you to come through for me.
"Geez, she'd rather I send her six thousand credits than get rescued off Nal Hutta!" Luke moaned after reading the latest reply. The Jedi ran a hand through his sandy hair, thinking. The more he thought about it, the fishier it seemed. In fact, he was starting to get a bad feeling about the whole thing. "Maybe she just wants my money and doesn't have any big account at all. Maybe she's one of those scammers and that's why her email was originally in the Spam box."
In fact, the more he thought about it the more likely it seemed.
Getting up from his chair, Luke went looking for his father.
"Father," Luke called after he found Darth Vader in one of the other rooms practicing with his lightsaber. "I think I found another scammer for you to investigate. She was asking me to send her money..."
Luke quickly explained the situation to the Sith Lord and then waited to hear his reply.
"This is a very common and often successful scam, Luke. I am proud of you for not falling for it." Vader stated as he placed his hand on his son's shoulder. "Many people in both the Old Republic and the Empire have fallen for it, some losing great sums of credits. You should NEVER send money to a stranger over the Intergalactic Web that asks for it, especially if they promise you a large profit in return. It is also very likely that this 'Nina' of yours is actually a man. These scammers like to prey on people's emotions, so they pretend they are a pretty woman."
Luke smiled, glad that this time he hadn't been tricked. Still, it was sad to hear that others had been and had believed the lies. If a thing sounded too good to be true, then most likely it was.
Author's Note: This story is based on a real scam and many people have actually lost money to it, so do be careful! Hopefully this story might save someone from being tricked.