The famous Nigerian prince scam has been going on for a couple decades, but people are now accusing an American of perpetuating a scam on Nigerians. Who is that American?
The openly gay star of the TV show “Empire” claimed late last month that two white President Trump supporters yelled racist and anti-gay slurs at him and shouted “This is MAGA country!” before punching and kicking him, pouring bleach on his head, and looping a rope around his neck.
His bizarre story started falling apart more rapidly when police took two black men into custody, Nigerian brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo. The men are extras on “Empire” and have some sort of relationship with Smollett, according to police.
The Chicago Police then released the brothers, citing “new evidence” that had them wanting to question Smollett again. Numerous CNN and CBS law enforcement sources have said that the men admitted to attacking Smollett but said he paid them to do it as part of a hoax. Officially, the Chicago Police have not confirmed that and say Smollett is still being treated as a victim in this case.
Now CBS Chicago has revealed what their sources told them was the amount Smollett had allegedly promised to pay the Osundairos to stage the fake attack on him.
How much? Only $4,000 a person.
According to CBS sources, the men were initially paid $3,500 a person before they left for Nigeria right after the attack. They were promised $500 each upon their return. Police picked them up at the airport right when they got back, so even if they were going to be paid that money, they probably won’t get it now.
Commenters on Twitter sarcastically pointed out that this might be the first case of an American scamming Nigerians.
Headlines involving Nigerian scams usually look a little more like this:
$4,000 also seems like a very small amount to accept for instigating a nationally talked-about attack on what would become a very high-profile actor. Considering that Smollett has now hired a top defense attorney, a high-profile PR firm, and a crisis management consultant, he’s probably had a lot more than $8,000 in savings.
CBS’ sources also told them that Smollett rehearsed the hoax attack with the brothers beforehand.
Chicago Police made it clear on Sunday that they “are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released.”
As for a potential motive, CBS Chicago investigator Brad Edwards said that his sources told him that the attack was plan B after a threatening letter Smollett received didn’t have its desired effect. Just over a week before the attack, Smollett showed police a threatening letter with the return address “MAGA.”
“When the letter didn’t get enough attention, he concocted the staged attack,” Edwards said, repeating what his sources told him.
The threatening message was made out of letters cut out of a magazine and was sent in an envelope filled with white powder that ended up being aspirin.
CBS sources say a magazine was taken from the Osundairos’ apartment as a piece of possible evidence. According to TMZ’s sources, which have not been entirely reliable in this case, police found multiple magazines with pages torn out of them and were seeing if they could connect the brothers to the letter.
Smollett’s lawyers continue to maintain that their client is completely innocent.