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Nigeria - the land where phone numbers can kill

Dial 419 for Murder?

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Thanks very much to the scores of readers who emailed to alert us to the extraordinary story of Nigerian "killer phone numbers".

The BBC reports that panic is sweeping through Lagos because the highly superstitious population has got it into their heads that if you answer a call from certain numbers, you will simply drop dead on the spot.

The latest tsunami of fear follows a similar wave of panic a few years back provoked by the rumour that "a handshake could cause sexual organs to disappear". Remarkable.

We wonder though, if the 419ers haven't got a hand in this latest round of hysteria. After all, we reported just yesterday that one advance fee fraud outfit has set itself up as "INTERNATIONAL ASSASINATORS AND WORLD SECURITY ORGANISATIONS" and is sending out emails threatening to rub out anyone who doesn't cough up $40k immediately.

And what better way to ice your victims than with a quick call to their mobile? Mind you, when our team rang UK-based 419er James Cole on his mobile a couple of weeks back as part of our investigation into the so-called "United Mercantile Credit & Investment Bank", he spectacularly failed to kick the bucket as a result. We can only conclude that either Cole is not a superstitious man, or the Vulture Central phone number does not contain the required lethal combination of digits. Which is a shame, either way.

We have, however, identified one number which is certain to cause at best palpitations and dizziness, and at worst spontaneous cardiac arrest. It's that used by your credit card company to call you when you have seriously exceeded your credit limit after a particularly ill-advised bout of fiscal profligacy. ®

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