Nigerian scam or Goldman Sachs investment?

The new Goldman Sachs / Nigerian flag logo.

The investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs sent out a secret pitch to their wealthy clients to see who might be interested in buying Facebook stock. The Wall Street Journal thought the pitch sounded awfully similar to fraud emails (also known as 419 scams) sent from Nigeria.

So here’s a game: Can you tell the legitimate pitch paragraphs from the fraudulent pitch paragraphs?
1) First, I must solicit your strictest confidence in this transaction. This is by virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential and ‘top secret’. I am sure and have confidence of your ability and reliability to prosecute a transaction of this great magnitude involving a pending transaction requiring maximum confidence.

2) When you have a chance I wanted to find a time to discuss a highly confidential and time sensitive investment opportunity in a private company that is considering a transaction to raise additional capital.

3) We are looking forward to doing this business with you and solicit your confidentiality in this transaction. Please acknowledge the receipt of this letter using the above numbers. I will send you detailed information on this pending project when I have heard from you.

4) For confidentiality reasons, I am unable to tell you the name of the company unless you agree not to use such information other than in connection with your evaluation of the investment opportunity and to keep all information that we reveal to you strictly confidential.

5) If you agree to these restrictions either by responding to this email or verbally on any subsequent telephone conversation that we have, I will send you an email confirming your agreement to be subject to these restrictions and, on that basis, will provide you with a summary of the investment opportunity.‪



A Nigerian scam letter

First, I must solicit your strictest confidence in this transaction. This is by virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential and ‘top secret’. I am sure and have confidence of your ability and reliability to prosecute a transaction of this great magnitude involving a pending transaction requiring maximum confidence.

We are top official of the federal government contract review panel who are interested in importation of goods into our country with funds which are presently trapped in Nigeria. In order to commence this business we solicit your assistance to enable us transfer into your account the said trapped funds.

The source of this fund is as follows; during the last military regime here in Nigeria, the government officials set up companies and awarded themselves contracts which were grossly over-invoiced in various ministries. The present civilian government set up a contract review panel and we have identified a lot of inflated contract funds which are presently floating in the central bank of Nigeria ready for payment.

However, by virtue of our position as civil servants and members of this panel, we cannot acquire this money in our names. I have therefore, been delegated as a matter of trust by my colleagues of the panel to look for an overseas partner into whose account we would transfer the sum of us$21,320,000.00(twenty one million, three hundred and twenty thousand U.S. dollars). Hence we are writing you this letter. We have agreed to share the money thus; 1. 20% for the account owner 2. 70% for us (the officials) 3. 10% to be used in settling taxation and all local and foreign expenses. It is from the 70% that we wish to commence the importation business.

Please, note that this transaction is 100% safe and we hope to commence the transfer latest seven (7) banking days from the date of the receipt of the following information by tel/fax; 234-1-7740449, your company’s signed, and stamped letterhead paper the above information will enable us write letters of claim and job description respectively. This way we will use your company’s name to apply for payment and re-award the contract in your company’s name.

We are looking forward to doing this business with you and solicit your confidentiality in this transaction. Please acknowledge the receipt of this letter using the above tel/fax numbers. I will send you detailed information of this pending project when I have heard from you.


The Goldman Sachs pitch


When you have a chance I wanted to find a time to discuss a highly confidential and time sensitive investment opportunity in a private company that is considering a transaction to raise additional capital.

‪‪For confidentiality reasons, I am unable to tell you the name of the company unless you agree not to use such information other than in connection with your evaluation of the investment opportunity and to keep all information that we reveal to you strictly confidential. All I can tell you is that it is a private company, but that its stock trades in a limited manner on certain private markets.

If you are a participant in trading on private markets, you may wish to decline receiving information about this opportunity because of the restrictions that will be imposed on you, which I will now describe.

‪If you agree not to use information that we reveal to you (including the name of the company and that the company is considering a transaction) other than in connection with your evaluation of the investment opportunity and to keep all such information strictly confidential until the information has become public, I will be able to disclose the name of the company and provide you with more information about the company and the investment opportunity.

‪In addition, certain information we will reveal to you about the investment opportunity and the related transaction will constitute material nonpublic information about this private company.  US federal securities laws impose restrictions on certain securities trading on the basis of material nonpublic information.



However, even after such 6 month period has elapsed, trading in the company’s securities will remain subject to federal securities laws and you will need to determine at the time of any transaction, in consultation with your advisors and based upon the prevailing facts and circumstances, whether purchasing or selling the company’s securities would be in compliance with such laws.

‪If you agree to these restrictions either by responding to this email or verbally on any subsequent telephone conversation that we have, I will send you an email confirming your agreement to be subject to these restrictions and, on that basis, will provide you with a summary of the investment opportunity.‪


The game answers: 1) Nigeria  2) Goldman Sachs 3) Nigeria 4) Goldman Sachs 5) Goldman Sachs

- Goldman Facebook Pitch Or Nigerian Email Scam? NPR>>- You Decide: Goldman’s Facebook Pitch or Nigerian Email ‘Opportunity’, The Wall Street Journal>>
- Snopes on the Nigerian Scam>>

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