US Convicts Nigerian 419 Email Scammer

from the well,-if-Nigeria-won't-do-it... dept

For years, the Nigerian government has insisted that it's cracking down on the notorious advance fee 419 scammers out there, but the scams continue. And, yes, they come from places other than Nigeria, but it really has become something of an industry in parts of Nigeria. There are even songs mocking dumb Americans who fall for the scams, and Nigerian officials have also been known to blame the victims of such scams. Indeed, many (though, not all) of these scams do play on the victim's own greed, so there's some element of questioning just how much of a "victim" they really are. But what's amazing is how totally taken in by these scams most victims are. In fact, there are stories of the victims of these scams who -- despite being told that it's a complete scam -- still believe that they're just one step away from getting the stolen money owed to them.

So it's interesting to see that the US gov't has now convicted a Nigerian citizen of running such a scam. Apparently, he used a single email address for over ten years (miklymyx@yahoo.com) and was able to convince lots of strangers to simply hand over money to him, promising to get them a fortune in return. What's amazing isn't just the convincing part, but the fact that he was able to use that one email address for so long so effectively.

Every time we see stories about people falling for Nigerian 419 scams -- including Harvard professors and Ronald Reagan's neuroscientist -- we're amazed that there are still people who fall for these types of scams. However, it seems these sorts of scams have worked for generations. There's a fantastic book called Drake's Fortune, that covers an almost identical scam that was massively successful for a small group of scammers about a century ago. Somehow, it seems likely that we'll still see people falling for these scams in another century as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 9:14am

    419 scammers are scum to be sure, but blaming the victim isn't a bad idea either. It takes a special brand of stupid to fall for one of these.

    Perhaps while going through his financial records, they can track down the "victims" and force them to go through financial responsibility training. There is a perfectly legal way to throw away large sums of money. It is called the state lottery. If you're going to be careless with your money, you may as well give back a bit to society.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 9:15am

    So hold on a second, a court in the United States convicted a citizen of another independent country of violating US law outside of the US? Or is this allowed due to a treaty Nigeria signed?

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 9:20am

    stupidity tax

    only people who are greedy and stupid lose money in these scams... what's the problem with that? With luck, loss of economic resources may make it harder for them to produce offspring.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 9:20am

    I wonder if this would work? ...Yeah, it probably would

    Helo sir or madamm,

    I am Prince Xyxlplox of the former planett Pluto. When Pluto lost its planet status, my citizens rebeld. I wish to transfer my vast fortun of Plutonian gold to earth but I ned an account to deposit it in as I am not a citizen of Erth,, If you transfer to me a small fee of $$150 i will be able to verify your account asnd tranferr the fortune. For your help, you wil recieve 10% of my 150 Trillion $$$ funds.

    -Prince Xyxlplox

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 9:24am

    Re: stupidity tax

    As I pointed out in 1., State Lottery is a better Stupid Tax because there is a chance the money will be reinvested in your community. In 419 scams, it goes overseas and stays there.

     

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  6.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 9:25am

    Re:

    "There is a perfectly legal way to throw away large sums of money."

    It's also perfectly legal to give all your money to a scammer, of course.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re:

    Heh. Is it just illegal for him to accept it?

     

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  8.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes. He's engaging in fraud. The victim is engaging in poor judgment, and there's no law against that.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ok ok, how about: There is a more constructive way to throw away large sums of money?

     

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  10.  
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    Robert Ring (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 10:03am

    I had kinda thought these scams had mostly gone away, but then I got an email a couple weeks ago about someone wanting to contact me for "a personal financial matter involving $35 million."

    It really is mindboggling that people still fall for this crap. If I lived in Nigeria, I'd probably be writing songs about gullible Americans, too.

     

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  11.  
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    Richard (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 10:04am

    The best approach

    You can have lots of fun with these scammers

    See http://www.419eater.com/index.php

     

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  12.  
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    Karl (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 10:34am

    Xymylkim

    miklymyx@yahoo.com

    Did they catch him by getting him to say his name backwards?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    33DegreesNorth, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 10:57am

    LOVE 419's!

    Come on, have you ever read the scam emails? They are the most entertaining emails you will ever read! Hell, I almost want to send them a few bucks just for the entertainment value alone! I collect them!

    Honestly, if someone falls for one of these scams, there's not much you can do to protect one from ones self!

    ~33

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 11:09am

    Re: LOVE 419's!

    "Honestly, if someone falls for one of these scams, there's not much you can do to protect one from ones self!"

    These people invariably die from cracking open a bottle of household cleaner and chugging because they think brightly-colored liquid = fruit-flavored drink.

     

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  15.  
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    Big Mook, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 11:36am

    These have been around a long time

    First 419 scam I encountered came in via Telex! Most of the people reading this blog won't know what that is, but it just shows that the scammers have always adapted to the latest technology and there are always gullible, greedy people who have their BS detector disabled.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Jim Mann, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Wow this is gone

    Wow, thank god we are getting rid of these guys. But its at the point that they are soo much of a parody. Like a begger on the street begging for cash except with alot more money and much bigger lies. So sad, be gone with them! Lol, I saw one at mcdonalds, the guy looked terrible. www.mcserved.com

     

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  17.  
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    anymouse (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 12:07pm

    The next big scam.....

    Hi,

    I'm an artist signed to a label under the RIAA, and I have recently been informed of a large copyright settlement coming my way. Unfortunately if I don't shelter these funds from the RIAA, they will take their standard 95% cut and leave me with little to nothing for my starving grandchildren to live on. This is where you come in, if you can act as a patsy for me, I will have the settlement wired directly to your bank account, once you have received the funds, you can keep 50% for your troubles, and wire the rest to me at iscammedyougood@hotmail.com

    Failure to comply with my request will result in you being a party to the copyright lawsuit, and you will be fined for over $40 billion dollars, because we can create data showing that your IP address was involved.

    Thanks for your time,
    The new MAFIA

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 12:18pm

    Re:

    the fraud occurred against us citizens over electronic means in the us. federal fraud doesnt matter where you are at least part of the fraud occurred in the us.

     

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  19.  
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    Richard (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    Re: The best approach

    You can even make money off them!

    See http://www.419eater.com/html/joe_eboh.htm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Tom Landry (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    if it weren't for the 419 scammers we wouldn't have the infinitely entertaining 419 baiting sites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Tom Landry (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Re: The best approach

    go to "The trophy room"

    the best.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    DJ (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 1:15pm

    Love the TV commercials

    I love the TV commercials that depict someone walking up and saying "I have a $10 million check here for you and all I need is a $5000 processing fee...."

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Johnny Canada, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    The Scammer will get a fine of about $ 50,000 but that is no problem.

    he will write a cheque for $ 100,000 and the government will give him back the change. Honest :)

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Re: stupidity tax

    That would be indeed a good way to filter out the stupid from the gene pool. However we have way too many programs in place that ensure the stupid keep breeding since the Gov't pays for it, with taxpayer money of course.

     

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  25.  
    icon
    Danny (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Stuck in England

    Related. I haven't heard, so am wondering if anyone else has:

    With so many people stuck in Europe last week due to the volcano, has there been a surge of emails that say "am stuck in Europe and out of funds, please wire money to this address" kinds of scams? Seems this event is ripe for them.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    Danny (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    Re:

    I get well more than one a day, but my spam filter handles the majority of them. Two slipped through this morning, for example.

    These are real emails that came in today:

    ---------------
    This mail is to remind you of your registered package. CONTENT: Bank Draft of $720,000 USD officially registered by an Official of the United Nations. The $720,000 USD is a donation to you from the U.N through their Annual e-mails Balloting Promo. For your information the VAT and COD have been paid except the security keeping fee of $210USD and it is payable to our account department.
    Please Contact FedEx
    Delivery Department Mr. William Harrison for shipment details and requirements.
    Email: fedex.delunit2_ng@live.com
    Tel: +2348182248485
    It is mandatory to reconfirm your Postal address and telephone number:
    Full Name:
    Address:
    City:
    Postal Address:
    Phone:
    Country:
    Yours Faithfully,
    Mrs. Margaret Blair
    ©Federal Express Corporation
    All rights reserved. © 1995-2010 FedEx.
    --------------------
    SHELL INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY PROMOTIONS/PRIZE AWARD DEPARTMENT SPAIN has just concluded final draws from it's periodical promotional program An exclusive list of thousands of individual and corporate bodies were picked by automated random computer search from the internet No tickets were sold. You emerged as one of the lucky winners and you are therefore entitled to a sum of €350.000.00 Euros Only .
    See attachment for more details and procedures.

    For the security purpose,a password is required to enable you view the
    attachment.

    Password: (boy).

    Dr Ellen R..Gomez,
    Managing Director .
    Shell Petroleum Company Spain.
    No 72 Avenida Parque Grande,
    Madrid Spain.
    Email:shellpetroleumcompany@europe.com
    :shelllottery1@yahoo.es
    -----------------------

    PS: If any of you get rich from one of these, please share some of the proceeds with me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    One of the reasons for their success is because the "scammers" have learned to adapt to new technology and new content.

    Maybe the entertainment industry could learn a thing or two?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 6:16pm

    Re: I wonder if this would work? ...Yeah, it probably would

    The frightening thing... Somebody would indeed fall for it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2010 @ 5:22am

    I hadn't gotten one of those in so long I didn't even know they still made money off them. When I still had an AOL account five or six years ago I used to get a dozen a day, but by then they'd gotten so lazy they were just cutting and pasting each other's stuff for mass-mailing.

    If we make Pluto a planet again, does that offer still stand?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    SD, May 23rd, 2010 @ 6:43am

    An interesting book on nigerian scams--by a nigerian

    Sadly, people still fall for these scams. Check out 'i do not come to you by chance' by Adaobi tricia nwaubani.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/22/AR2009052203329.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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