The General, The Famous Psychiatrist and “Different Nigerians”

By | March 2, 2006

You don’t have to be dumb to fall for Nigerian email scams. According to a suit filed by a renowned psychiatrist’s son, Dr. Louis A. Gottschalk lost perhaps $3 million over 10 years to scammers from Nigeria. As the LA Times puts it:

The court documents, filed last month in Orange County Superior Court, allege Gottschalk even traveled to Africa to meet a shadowy figure known as “The General.” Gottschalk — who at 89 still works at the UCI campus medical plaza that bears his name — said in court papers that the losses were caused by “some bad investments.”

The tale is an awfully familiar one, made worse by the sums involved and the apparent fact that we are talking about a renowned psychiatrist. As the son’s attorney put it: “While it seems unlikely, even ludicrous, that a highly educated doctor like [Gottschalk] would fall prey to such an obvious con, that is exactly what happened,” according to court papers.

According to the son’s account, the scam dates back to 1995:

A year later, Louis Gottschalk traveled to Africa to meet “The General” and other Nigerians “to show them that he was sincere so he would get the money.” Another court document said he also traveled to Amsterdam to meet the Nigerians. Soon afterward, his son said Gottschalk admitted to him that he had lost $300,000 and that FBI agents concluded that he had been a victim of an Internet scam.

But, as in many of these cases, that didn’t stop him. Throwing good money after bad, caution to the wind but not the towel, Louis Gottschalk, according to his son

kept clandestinely wiring money to the Nigerians at least until last fall. Guy Gottschalk said that when he confronted his father in October, Louis Gottschalk said, “Don’t worry, everything will be all right on Thursday because I will be getting $20 million.”The son said his father also told him he’d get the money this time because these were “different Nigerians.”

They always are.

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5 thoughts on “The General, The Famous Psychiatrist and “Different Nigerians”

  1. Martin Overton


    Your article is bang on, you don’t have to be stupid to fall for these scams, just greedy or as those that run these scams call them ‘wad’ which means rich, greedy people.

    Furthermore, it is not always only the greedy victim who suffers there are often innocent bystanders who end up being part of the ‘collateral damage’. On the 19th of February 2003, a Nigerian diplomat was shot dead in Prague by a Czech pensioner who allegedly had been taken in by ‘The Game’(see

    More cases like this can be found in an article I wrote for Virus Bulletin, entitled ‘Out of Africa’. A PDF version of this article can be found here:

    This is an authorised copy of the article which was kindly supplied by Virus Bulletin and is used with their permission.

  2. Jeremy Wagstaff

    Thanks, Martin. I’ll check that out. Have you seen Nigerian scams mixing with worms, trojans etc? Any sign these guys are getting more sophisticated in that sense?

  3. Martin Overton


    I personally haven’t seen malware being used by the 419ers aka ‘The Boys from Lagos’. However, a number of Phishing scams have tried to install key loggers via known exploits as well as via social engineering tricks to get the target to infect their computer.

    Back to the 419s, the following article covers the most advanced 419 I’ve seen so far:

    And this article covers the way that Phishers are using tricks that the 419ers use:

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