Fake Nigerian e-mail parody targets SCO CEO McBride

Fueled by the ongoing legal battle between Unix vendor The SCO Group and IBM, someone in the open-source community has apparently decided that the whole situation is a mockery in need of mocking.

In the past several weeks, a fake e-mail has been circulating and has been posted on numerous Web lists that purportedly comes from the keyboard of SCO CEO Darl McBride himself. The parody mimics a popular Nigerian e-mail scam that regularly appears in in-boxes everywhere, right down to the all-caps delivery and the tearful pleas for help. The message title even uses the same header as the Nigerian messages: "YOUR URGENT ASSISTANCE REQUIRED."

Through a spokesman today, McBride declined to comment on the parody e-mail.

The fake message has been posted on several Web sites, including England-based Internet consultancy Netcraft Ltd. and NewsForge. Netcraft's Web site has been inaccessible since this morning.

Here is part of the text of the parody e-mail, which includes references to the SCO/IBM legal fight:

DEAR SIR/MADAM:

I AM MR DARL MCBRIDE CURRENTLY SERVING AS THE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE SCO GROUP, FORMERLY KNOWN AS CALDERA SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL, IN LINDON, UTAH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I KNOW THIS LETTER MIGHT SURPRISE YOU BECAUSE WE HAVE HAD NO PREVIOUS COMMUNICATIONS OR BUSINESS DEALINGS BEFORE NOW.

MY ASSOCIATES HAVE RECENTLY MADE CLAIM TO COMPUTER SOFTWARES [sic] WORTH AN ESTIMATED $1 BILLION U.S. DOLLARS. I AM WRITING TO YOU IN CONFIDENCE BECAUSE WE URGENTLY REQUIRE YOUR ASSISTANCE TO OBTAIN THESE FUNDS. ...

MY ASSOCIATES AND I OF THE SCO GROUP ARE ... THE FULL AND RIGHTFUL OWNERS OF THE OPERATING SYSTEM SOFTWARES KNOWN AS UNIX. OUR ENGINEERS HAVE DISCOVERED THAT NO FEWER THAN SEVENTY (70) LINES OF OUR VALUABLE AND PROPRIETARY SOURCE CODES HAVE APPEARED IN THE UPSTART OPERATING SYSTEM LINUX. ... THIS GIVES US A CLAIM ON THE MILLIONS OF LINES OF VALUABLE SOFTWARE CODES WHICH COMPRISE THIS LINUX AND WHICH HAS BEEN SOLD AT GREAT PROFIT TO VERY MANY BUSINESS ENTERPRISES. OUR LEGAL EXPERTS HAVE ADVISED US THAT OUR CONTRIBUTION TO THESE CODES IS WORTH AN ESTIMATED ONE (1) BILLION U.S. DOLLARS. ...

I HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE MANDATE BY MY COLLEAGUES TO CONTACT YOU AND ASK FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE. WE ARE PREPARED TO SELL YOU A SHARE IN THIS ENTERPRISE, WHICH WILL SOON BE VERY PROFITABLE, THAT WILL GRANT YOU THE RIGHTS TO USE THESE VALUABLE SOFTWARES. ... IT IS OUR RESPECTFUL SUGGESTION, THAT YOU MAY BE IMMEDIATELY A PARTY TO THIS ENTERPRISE, BEFORE OTHERS ACCEPT THESE LUCRATIVE TERMS, THAT YOU SEND US THE NUMBER OF A BANKING ACCOUNT WHERE WE CAN WITHDRAW FUNDS OF A SUITABLE AMOUNT TO GUARANTEE YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THIS ENTERPRISE. AS AN ALTERNATIVE YOU MAY SEND US THE NUMBER AND EXPIRATION DATE OF YOUR MAJOR CREDIT CARD, OR YOU MAY SEND TO US A SIGNED CHECK FROM YOUR BANKING ACCOUNT PAYABLE TO "SCO GROUP" AND WITH THE AMOUNT LEFT BLANK FOR US TO CONVENIENTLY SUPPLY.

KINDLY TREAT THIS REQUEST AS VERY IMPORTANT AND STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL. I HONESTLY ASSURE YOU THAT THIS TRANSACTION IS 100% LEGAL AND RISK-FREE."

The message has also been posted on the rec.humor.funny newsgroup.

In March, Lindon, Utah-based SCO sued IBM for US$1 billion, alleging that IBM illegally put Unix code belonging to SCO into the Linux open-source project to benefit IBM's sales. The lawsuit was later amended and now asks for more than $3 billion in damages. IBM countersued SCO earlier this month.

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