Chess SCAM on the Net?

In the past couple of weeks, The Chess Drum has received notice from players about strange letters which purport to recruit chess trainers (due to "poor performance" of Nigerian players). It states that the Nigerian Chess Federation has set up the Nigerian Chess Trainers Committee (NCTC) which is chaired by International Master Fola Akintola. The letter mentions legitimate names such as IM Odion Aikhoje.

Where it gets very strange is the following statements (grammatical errors included):

"The welfare of the chess trainers would be catered for by NCF and their flight tickects to Nigeria would be arranged by the Nigerian Embassy. The trainers would be lodged in Sheraton hotels Lagos for their 2weeks stay and would each be paid $8000 for their 2weeks stay. After this 2weeks any trainer that decides he wants to stay would still be catered for by NCF, he or she would be moved to his or her own apartment, would be paid $12000 monthly and would be given citizenship."

Does $4000 per week sound too good to be true? What would you have to do?

"You are to send your name, address, bio data, fide rating and your qualifications as a chess trainer to NCTC would screen every applicant based on their credentials. Few of the chess trainers would be short listed and accepted. You would be contacted through email if you are accepted and the form of contract would be sent to you to sign, you keep a copy and fax another copy to our fax number 1-208-692-5799. After which you are to pay $980 (before thursday 7th April 2005) for :"

The letter states that this $980.00 fee will cover work permit, identification badge and mailing costs. The problem is that this process (which could normally take months) is to be completed by April 15th and the trainers are to be in Nigeria by April 17th.  The e-mail which can be read here is dated March 19th. They also have among the list of sponsor organizations such as UNICEF, Coca Cola Nigeria and the Nigerian Embassy. Strange combination indeed!

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Several Nigerian players were contacted including Bunmi Olape who penned a wonderful article about the successful Ashton-Wells tournament in Nigeria some months ago. Here is what he had to say about this letter:

----- Original Message -----
From: "bunmi olape" <bunmiolape>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2005 7:34 AM

Hi Daaim,

I received the mail concerning the job offers for chess trainers which from the mail you sent was mailed to you by IM Kriventsov. I will like you and any other person to disregard the job offer as I believe it is a scam; the only notable names among the organisers of the purported chess offer are IM's Fola Akintola and Odion which I feel they want to use to add credibility to their scam which I am sure Akintola and Odion knows nothing about. The supposed Mr. Thomas whom they mentioned as NCF secretary is false. It is a pity and sad thing that individuals like this go about tarnishing the image of this very great country showing total disregard for its image and integrity.

I will do my own findings and see if I can get the culprits behind this scam and get in touch with you.

My regards

Olape Bunmi

… and a message from a party in the letter, nails the issue shut.

----- Original Message -----
From: "odion aikhoje"
To: "Daaim Shabazz" <>
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2005 10:58 AM
Subject: Re: Chess Trainers

Hello Mr Shabazz.

I must say, it's quite disturbing to be used as a forerunner in scam such as this bogus issue about Nigerian Chess trainers, in fact to be mentioned in any scam at all is disheartening. Or maybe I should feel happy at the obvious reference to my popularity? (ha ha). 

Anyway, these things happen all the time, I feel that any chess player should immediately be able to spot the inconsistencies in the said article.  e.g: the fact that the fax/phone no quoted for the Nigeria Chess Federation or whatever is a US no. Ridiculous. Besides, I'm sure the proper contact details for the Nigeria Chess Federation are listed on the FIDE web site, easy to cross-check.

All said, it's quite annoying but I feel it's just another of those stray undesirable things running all over the internet, after all with issues like spyware and computer viruses, who gives such poor scams a second look? Rubbish.

One real trainer from the U.S. actually inquired about the details of the program and reached someone who claimed to be Fola Akintola. This person referred the trainer to Theophilus Caifus, the current President of the Nigerian Chess Federation. However, Mr. Caifus did not give a warm endorsement. He told The Chess Drum…

----- Original Message -----
From: "theo caiafas"
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2005 7:15 AM
Subject: RE: Letters in the name of NCF

Dear Mr. Shabazz!

Thanks for your email.

It is of course another scam from fraudsters who are using IM Fola Akintola  and IM Odion Aikhoje's names which they must have sourced from the FIDE Website.

Please do all that is possible to warn chess trainers round the World to  disregard such invitations.

The intention of the fraudsters is to collect the requested amount and get  the victim's bank account no and then vanish.

Please disregard.

Theo Caiafas
President NCF.

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Also read...

"Chess Trainers  Sought--By Scam Artists,",  8 April 2005.

"The Nigerian Chess Scam - Revisited,", 14 April 2005. Interesting article of a Canadian "Grandmaster" actually exchanging e-mail with the scam artists.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 8 April 2005