Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Invisible Theatre presents THE NIGERIAN SPAM SCAM SCAM

Tucson Theatre Announcements List: Tucson: Invisible Theatre presents THE NIGERIAN SPAM SCAM SCAM

From: CATHY JOHNSON [mailto:cathyj@flash.net] Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 1:22 PMSubject: Invisible Theatre presents THE NIGERIAN SPAM SCAM SCAM

The Invisible Theatre
By Dean Cameron


Three Performances Only!
Mention this e-mail to buy tickets for half price!

October 18 at 7:30 pm
October 19 at 8:00 pm
October 20 at 8:00 pm

“Please help me! I am beneficiary to a fortune of 30 million dollars!!!” You’ve seen something like that in at least one e-mail a week. You’ve deleted it immediately or you’ve read it and wondered what was going on. Actor Dean Cameron did not delete the e-mail but instead began corresponding with one of the scammers. What results is an innovative and award winning theatrical event!
“Screamingly funny…”
- Los Angeles Times

Please Call 882-9721 for Reservations

Invisible Theatre
1400 N. First Avenue (at Drachman)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Do not delete this 'Nigerian Spam Scam Scam'

Do not delete this 'Nigerian Spam Scam Scam' www.azstarnet.com ®

Published: 10.12.2007

Do not delete this 'Nigerian Spam Scam Scam'

By Levi J. Long


When Dean Cameron got an e-mail from a Nigerian con artist, the actor didn't immediately trash the forwarded scam letter. Instead, Cameron turned the tables on the con man, wrote him back and turned nine months worth of e-mails into "The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam," a comedy detailing the unusual correspondence.

After more than 150 national and international shows, Tucson audiences can get a glimpse at the curious e-mail messages that make up "The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam," opening Thursday for a three-night run at The Invisible Theatre.

In the spirit of the play, the Star conducted its interview through a chat program with Cameron from his Los Angeles home.

Why did you decide to write the play based on the e-mail?

"Initially, I'd just been sending the e-mails to friends. After a couple of months, they were telling me 'You must do something more with these . . . a play or something.' So I did. We tested a version which was way too long but was a proof, a concept sort-of-thing. When the correspondence finished, I trimmed quite a bit of it and worked with Paul Provenza, the director, on the actual script."

Everyone I know has gotten one of those spam e-mails. What's been the reaction from audiences when they hear about the show?

"It's odd. When I first began performing the show a couple of years ago, I had to spend quite a bit of the intro explaining the e-mail and the scam, as not many people were familiar with it. Now folks are quite aware of the '419 scam,' as we all get several of them a week. So when someone says 'Nigerian Scam' they know what I'm talking about. But to answer your question more specifically, they love it. They're always amazed that I was able to keep this guy on the line for nearly a year, but when you see the show or read the correspondence, you see that the 'Dean Cameron' (character) I was writing as was just crazy enough and just rich enough for the scammer to hang in there."

And for nine months, "Dean Cameron" was a sexually confused Florida millionaire, who loved cats and had retained Perry Mason as a personal attorney. Why and how did you come up with this persona?

"Only my shrink understands; it just happened."

Was it hard to keep that up?

"No, frighteningly simple. The difficulty was in keeping stuff straight, especially at one point (when) I forwarded a scam e-mail from another scammer to 'Ibrahim,' my original scammer. . . . 'Ibrahim' began posing as this other scammer so then I began writing 'Ibrahim' posing as 'Donald,' knowing that it's 'Ibrahim' . . . and now as the scam has evolved with others, I have 'Perry Mason' working with another person to scam me out of money. . . ."

Wow, that's about as complicated as a 'Days of Our Lives' storyline. How did you guys communicate?

"E-mail. . . . Eventually I called 'Ibrahim' and was talking with the voice of 'Dean' and the voice of 'Perry Mason.' I also have been talking to a woman in Peru who apparently loves me and just needs a few thousand bucks for her father's operation so I called her. It's nuts. I also sent 'Ibrahim' a package of goodies."

So what's become of the real "Ibrahim" and does he know about "The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam" production?

"He does now. About six months ago, I sent him a press pack for the show. What's interesting is this: He still thinks that Perry Mason is real. So Perry has been working with 'Ibrahim' on his writer royalties for the show as, technically, 'Ibrahim' wrote half of the show. His (real) name is Josef."


• "The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam"
• Presented by: The Invisible Theatre.
• Playwright: Dean Cameron.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. next Friday-Saturday.
• Where: The Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
• Tickets: $25, discounts available.
• Information: 882-9721 or www.invisibletheatre.com.
• Running time: 70 minutes, with no intermission.
• To find out more about 419 scams: Go to www.419eater.com.
● Contact reporter Levi J. Long at 573-4179 or llong@azstarnet.com.
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Thursday, October 11, 2007

My Nigerian Partner

Tucson Weekly : Arts : My Nigerian Partner


My Nigerian Partner

Actor Dean Cameron tells how he managed to scam a spam scammer

Dean Cameron and Victor Isaac in The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam.
You get one almost every day: an e-mail from a stranger requesting an "urgent business relationship." The sender, a barrister or the widow or orphan of some deceased African strongman, needs help moving millions of dollars from a threatened bank account into the United States. A remarkably large percentage of it can be yours, if you open a U.S. account, put some of your own money in it and help facilitate the wire transfer.

In the immortal lyrics of Monty Python, "Spam, spam, spam, spam ..."

It's the inescapable "4-1-9" scam (named after the Nigerian statute that, ineffectively, outlawed it), a descendant of the good old "Spanish Prisoner" con. A few people fall for it and get bilked out of hundreds or thousands of dollars; one or two have even been murdered. Most of us just delete the messages ... day after day after day.

Not Dean Cameron. He wrote back and scammed the spammers.

Cameron, an actor and writer who has starred in a lot of movies and TV shows you probably haven't seen (Rockula, Ski School 1 and 2), was biding his time one day on the set of short-lived TV show Mister Sterling. Bored, he checked his e-mail. ("In the '70s, I would've been doing cocaine, but this is the new millennium," he says.) Yet again, there was Nigerian spam in his inbox. Yet again, he replied with his standard non sequitur message: "Great. Do you have any toast?"

Usually, for obvious reasons, that message gets no response. But this time, the spammer wrote back.

"He said, 'I'm so excited to hear back from you,' as if I'd written, 'Yes, I desperately want to help you!'" Cameron recalls.

Thus began a correspondence in which the spammer pretended to be Mrs. Miriam Abacha, widow of a wealthy Nigerian general, and Cameron pretended to be a lonely, mentally declining old millionaire in Florida. He wound up with 310 pages of correspondence, and even engaged in a few phone conversations--irresistible fodder for a play.

Cameron and fellow actor Victor Isaac (as the Nigerian) will present Cameron's The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam at Invisible Theatre next week, in a three-day run.

"I started screwing with these bad, scary guys, because I'm fascinated by these people," Cameron says. "The more I came to know about them, the more I wanted to learn."

And what did he learn along the way? "I found out that they were human," he says. "Once I called them, and there was one point where I could hear them walk by a group of kids playing, and it made me sad for a second. Here I am, a rich Westerner taking advantage of these poor people and making their life into a joke. But that sadness faded quickly, because I realized the person I was portraying was an older, senile person with a lot of money, and this guy was trying to take his fortune from him. These guys have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from people like our grandparents. They prey on the weak. Oh, they were very nice, very good at their job; the guy talked a very good game, and he was very pushy, like a time-share salesman."

Ultimately, Cameron came clean--once he'd written the play. "I sent the guy a press package earlier this year, and he's not happy about it," he says. "I've invited him to see the play. I've said, 'Please come to the United States, and we can sit down with an attorney and somebody from the FBI, and we can work the copyright stuff out."'

No answer yet.

Cameron says he learned something about himself during his effort to scam a scammer.

"There are hundreds of other people like me who are scam-baiting," he says, "but most of them are rather mean--really, making fun of the scammers in a crude way. It's just cheap humor. In what I did, I think I retained my grace. A couple of people have said after this show, 'You're still respectful of them in a strange way.' I feel like I'm like that in real life, a nice guy who just wants to have a good time."

Well, maybe that good time has gotten out of hand.

"A friend of mine started corresponding with a scammer," he says, "and he was kind of gullible; he didn't believe it was a scam. So I took over as the scammer, and I scammed my own friend out of some money. So it's gone full circle: I have become a Nigerian scammer. Except in that case, I was a woman from Peru."

The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19 and 20Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.$25882-9721