Nigerian Official Blames The Victims Of Nigerian 419 Advance Fee Scams

from the blame-the-victim dept

It still amazes us that people still fall for so-called Nigerian advance-fee 419 scam emails. I'd actually noticed that I'd stopped getting such emails offering me millions for helping smuggle gold out of the country, but in the last week there's been a new bunch of them -- and apparently people still fall for them. According to a Nigerian diplomat in Australia, he's just as amazed, and thus thinks the victims are equally to blame and deserve jailtime. He claims that the government "frowns" on these scams, and spends plenty of time trying to track down the scammers -- but we've been reporting on Nigerian gov't claims for years and years and they never seem to get very far in stopping the scammers. But, still, he claims that the victims are equally at fault.

While it's true that most of these scams prey on people's greed (they're basically roping people into "stealing" money), it's a bit extreme to claim they should be thrown in jail for being conned. If you read a book like Drake's Fortune, which describes a similar scam nearly a century ago that was incredibly effective, you realize how easily people are fooled into these things. And we've even seen cases where victims still believe the scammers after they've lost everything and the whole scam has been explained to them. That's how thoroughly convincing these scams can be.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Lucretious, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 5:15pm

    No doubt he should be listened to as Nigeria is such a well run country that its officials must know what they're talking about....

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 5:20pm

    What????
    Does this mean I'm not gonna get my money back??!!

    Dang~!

     

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  3.  
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    Graychin, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 5:44pm

    You can't cheat an honest man (W. C. Fields)

    I'm really not a "blame the victim" kind of guy, but Mr. Nigeria has a point. All the Nigerian scams have one thing in common - the victim believes that he is participating in a criminal conspiracy to steal money that really belongs to someone else.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 5:51pm

    Greed is a powerful tool

     

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  5.  
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    Bill W, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 6:11pm

    Drake's scam

    Yes, and it was some of my own ancestors that got taken in that scam. It's amazing how much people will put out to get "free money!"

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 6:12pm

    Re:

    cocaine is a hell of a drug

     

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  7.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 6:39pm

    Re: You can't cheat an honest man (W. C. Fields)

    To be fair, the way it's usually phrased, it sounds like you're helping someone get out from under an injustice. But I can see why the Nigerian ambassador doesn't see it that way.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 7:42pm

    I think stupid people should be lined up against a wall and shot!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 7:48pm

    can I go first?

     

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  10.  
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    Spectere, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 8:20pm

    The victims deserve jail time?

    I'm certainly not saying that people who fall for 419 schemes really deserve much sympathy. After all, it's a scam whose success is driven by playing on the greed of others. And, really, given how much publicity these scams (mostly due to the proliferation of das Interwebs and the ease of accessing information about things like this) have gotten there's absolutely no excuse to fall for them. However, saying that they deserve jail time is a bit much. I'd say the scammer, in this case, is doing a fine job punishing his/her victims.

    I think the diplomat should have considered his words a bit more carefully because, really, they're way out of line. You just don't say things like that when you're representing your country.

     

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  11.  
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    boodyboo, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 9:00pm

    Hooray for Nigerians! Now where's my Anus laptop?

     

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  12.  
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    chuffamocco, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 2:48am

    A muppet is a muppet

    And you won't believe people do get suckered twice. People of this and that law firm will contact victims telling them they've caught the scammers and if they'd like to recover their money, they should work with these lawyers. They ask for 20% up front. You know what happens afterwards.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 9:01am

    Re: The victims deserve jail time?

    Truth is hell.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 9:39am

    Re:

    Yes! the Clique Mob is gonna get you! LOL

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 1:15pm

    I hate to admit it, but I've been known to frequent a dating site or two in my lifetime. The first time I was contacted by this amazingly HOT @ss girl (which should have set the internal alarms off right there, hehehe) and we talked. After the second e-mail she started telling me she loved me. Well this DID set off my alarms, but I wanted to see where it went. Would you f_cking believe that she started telling me she couldn't get out of Nigeria (which, once I read I knew, much to my chagrin, that I had been conned by some rib-showing spear throwing monkey eating African dude across the world) because she got paid in money orders so could I loan her $700. I said I didn't have the money and never heard from her again.

    If you read the story carefully, you'll notice that there should have been alarm bells going off at three different sections. Two of them I caught, but that first one got by me.

    Moral of the story, don't try to date people who are prettier than you.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 3:46pm

    i'm not surprised that the nigerian guy blames the victims for the scam, if you aren't greedy and amoral, you won't even think of participating in a 419.

     

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  17.  
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    Cixelsid, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 4:15pm

    Not surprised...

    this is still a country that blames rape victims.

     

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  18.  
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    Mitur Binesderty, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 5:03pm

    Suckers

    Man, people are stupid. You have to know what is real and what is fake. For instance I won the European Lottery and I KNOW that's for real... right?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 8:16pm

    As Dave Ramsey says:

    If it's to good to be true, then IT"S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

    People are dumb, greed gets them every time

    now if you want to make real money, send me $5 and I'll show you how to make millions.......

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 11:37pm

    Re:

    Ramsey is the bomb!

    He would say these people paid some stupid tax.

     

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  21.  
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    Fred Ritz, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 4:14am

    Nigerian offical blames Victims

    How about drugs? we have been trying to erradicate drugs use for a long time and it is worst every year. and yes I blame the victims also they want to forget their problems and so do the victims of the scams what is the difference?

     

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  22.  
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    commonsense, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 5:58am

    Similiar to Democrats!

    Once the scam is revelaed they still believe their party leaders!

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 9:01am

    Durg users want to forget their problems? That is the lamest thing I've ever heard. Drugs are fun and I don't have any problems created or solved by them. You just get done watching Reefer Madness or something?

     

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  24.  
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    Sparky, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 11:18am

    Something for nothing. One born everyday. If it sounds to good to to be true..

    I just thought I would add age-old lines to the mix.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re:

    and pussy is a mother fucker.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 2:33pm

    Fixed it for you....

    Similiar to Republicans!
    by commonsense - Aug 24th, 2008 @ 5:58am
    Once the scam is revelaed they still believe their party leaders!

     

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  27.  
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    John, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 3:23pm

    E-mail and critical thinking

    I think e-mail tends to turns off people's ability to think critically. How else can you explain why people will blindly forward e-mails about "missing children" (some of whom were found 10 years ago) and the latest "virus report" (issued by AOL and CNN).

    Let's think about this: if someone on the street came up to you and said, "Hey lucky recipient, I'll give you $5 million if you give me $2,000." Would you give him the money or would you walk away, knowing it's a scam? Then how does receiving an e-mail make the message any different?

    Then, there's the idea where the simplest explanation is probably the correct one. Which one of these is more likely:
    1) You were selected in a random drawing to receive $5 million just by helping some foreign family. Even though you were selected as a winner, the e-mail you receive never mentions you by name and the message has been cc'ed to a number of other "lucky winners" whose e-mail addresses are similar to yours.
    -OR-
    2) You've received a spam e-mail from people who want to steal your money.

     

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  28.  
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    jade, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 4:38pm

    scams

    I have known a few people who, with the onset of senile dementia, began beleiving these scams. It takes time for the families to legally get control of their elder relatives' assets (for good reason, there need to be safeguards in the process) and I beleive that the scammers know full well that they are preying upon that population, during that specific window of opportunity, when the critical faculties are diminished, and before the bleeding of assets can legally be controlled by a caretaker.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 6:10pm

    ...but Morshef needs my SSN, address, and a $50,000 coverage fee to send me my $500,000 in inheritance money that he wants to split with me from his uncle...

     

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  30.  
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    Jailer, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 6:25pm

    A fool and his/her money

    Mr. Nigeria makes a valid point, not politically correct though. Give the man some credit. Foolishness has its drawbacks, like the wages of sin is death. The wages of financial foolishness is misery/debt/lesson learnt. A fool and his/her money are lucky to even have met. Away with the idiots.

     

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  31.  
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    Cliff, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 1:33am

    Blame the churches

    After all they have persuaded billions that you CAN be chosen as if by magic, by an invisible benefactor of whom there is no evidence at all.

     

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  32.  
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    Artur, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 2:45am

    many people are just stupid

    Mike, I completely disagree that these things are convincing. Most, if not all, of the people that fall for these things are just plain stupid. Greed is a factor, but I'm quite greedy myself (I play the lottery yet I have a strong understanding of statistics). But to fall for something this ridiculous is just beyond my comprehension. These are the same people that make me wish that people had to take tests to have children. I say they deserved it. If I ever fall for any such scheme (besides the lottery) then I will say "kudos, you got me" because I too will have deserved it.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 5:13am

    I tend to agree

    Con artists generally prey on the greed of thier victims and certainly that is the case here. A fool and thier money are quickly parted . . .

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 5:34am

    Re:

    I agree, as long as I'm the one who gets to define "stupid."

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 6:10am

    Re: The victims deserve jail time?

    You do if that is truly how your country wants to be represented. Look at New Orleans during the whole Katrina incident. Mayor Nagan and his winner of a police cheif were not exactly acting in the best interests of their city, but no-one did anything to stop them from making a mockery of their city and the majority of the population.

    As far as blaming the victims, what about elderly folks that get caught up in this kind of thing? They don't always know better. They think they are going to get compensated for helping someone, and all they have to do is forward a little money on the front end (as far as they know anyway). Now, I know a lot of people in churches are taught to believe in seed faith, and this plays on that faith. Do these people all deserve to go to jail? Maybe in exchange for the money, the Nigerians need to sit through about 10 years of southern baptist christian culture. They will want to kill themselves. Eureka, thats how we fix it.

     

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  36.  
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    cak, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 6:22am

    artur: I am sorry, but knowing statistics and still playing the lottery is not greed, it is plain stupidity. If you are a regular player of the lottery, why don't you work out how much you will spend over your lifetime on tickets, and what you could do with that money instead. It is often the stupid ones who claim that it is everyone else who is stupid (except for me, of course!). Plain stupidity (says while shaking his head).

     

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  37.  
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    Wolfy, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 6:25am

    We haven't exactly been breeding for intelligence in this country. It seems the more you believe the impossible (jebus died for your sins, and went up to heaven),the more accepted you are to the other morons perpetuating this type of thinking.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 6:27am

    Re: I tend to agree

    Exactly... 419 does not care about the rest of us that are not easily parted with our money... They are concerned with the 'too honest for their own good', and the 'so greedy I'm stupid' types. The rest of us staare not of any consequence to them and are as much fodder.

    The person that said that e-mail makes people stupid, you are somewhat correct in the fact that e-mail is more personal than some moron on the street coming to you and saying that you won the lottery. For the people that fall for it, they think that if they are getting an e-mail, that person had to have known the address and sent it directly to them; not understanding how spam works.

     

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  39.  
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    beset, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 7:12am

    how innocent?

    i was shocked originally by the Nigerian diplomat's comments, having seen those who fall for these schemes as innocent victims. but on reflection the penny dropped - if you took them at their word, virtually every one of these emails i've seen would offer stolen, embezzled, misappropriated or otherwise illict money, including proceeds of war crimes and proceeds of corruption. The innocent victims of these scams are indeed knowingly seeking to profit from crime. If i went house to house asking people to conceal USD 10 million I had just stolen, people would call the police and wouldn't think themselves blameless and innocent for pocketing it. Why is it any different if the money comes from Nigeria?

     

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  40.  
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    artur, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 2:38am

    @cak

    Touche!

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 8:40am

    Well that's the thing - people don't always believe it is stolen money - they think that the money belongs to the sender of the email and someone else is trying to steal it from them. They believe that they are doing someone a service and getting a hefty payment for their service. Like above, an e-mail address implies a known relationship. "They had to get my e-mail from a reputable source, it's not widely available" they say as they empty 3000 junk emails from their junk mail folder.
    As long as humanity walks on this earth there will be people who scam and people who allow themselves to be scammed. I knew someone who actually had a large jug of snake oil on top of their refrigerator. I was 12, so I thought it was badass, but now when I reflect on it, that guy got bamboozled. He probably paid like $100 or $200 for that jug of snake oil with a dead snake in it, and it probably cost the guy who made it $3 in vineger and a little time finding a snake to kill.

    You guys can psychoanalyze and place blame whereever you would like, but the truth is that this kind of thing has been around for many hundreds of years. This is just another facet to the "scam" industry and anyone who falls for it is stupid. But the people scamming are at fault too and should be dealt with when they are apprehended. Both parties are at fault; one for being naive and the other for taking advantage of that naivete.

     

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