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The first African in space needs your help to get home.

At least, according to the latest Nigerian email scam to hit inboxes. Like most, it’s utter nonsense. Unlike most, it’s a great story.

Apparently — so the scam goes — Nigerian Air Force major Abacha Tunde became the first African in space in 1979, when he made a secret flight to the Russian Salyut 8T space station. (Salyut does actually  exist, and it was the first real station in space.)

Unfortunately, the poor major got stranded at Salyut after a subsequent mission in 1989-1990. And while he’s been re-supplied by “Progrez” supply flights” (the actual spacecraft is Progress), he has been unable to come home.

And it’s been a really long time …

In that time, this well-paid cosmonaut’s salary has approached $15 million dollars. It’s in a trust fund in Lagos (doubtless because that’s where all Russian astronauts are paid). For some assistance in retrieving those funds, you, dear reader, can keep $3 million US.

Lucky you!

Unfortunately for both your wallet and the advancement of space science, this story is completely fake. It surfaced in 2004 and has recently been revived and is making the rounds yet again. Thanks to @BPMredux for bringing it to our attention.

It just goes to show that all those creative writing majors at American universities do actually have future job prospects.

Here’s the full text for your reading amusement:

Dear Mr. Sir,


I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.

In the 14-years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost $ 15,000,000 American Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost $ 3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the his trust fund we need your assistance.

Consequently, my colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total amount to your account or subsequent disbursement, since we as civil servants are prohibited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Civil Service Laws) from opening and/ or operating foreign accounts in our names.

Needless to say, the trust reposed on you at this juncture is enormous. In return, we have agreed to offer you 20 percent of the transferred sum, while 10 percent shall be set aside for incidental expenses (internal and external) between the parties in the course of the transaction. You will be mandated to remit the balance 70 percent to other accounts in due course.

Kindly expedite action as we are behind schedule to enable us include downpayment in this financial quarter.

Please acknowledge the receipt of this message via my direct number 234 (0) 9-234-2220 only.

Yours Sincerely, Dr. Bakare Tunde

Astronautics Project Manager

photo credit: pasukaru76 via photo pin cc

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