by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
419, nigeria

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 ( 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.

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


    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.
    Tel: +2348182248485
    It is mandatory to reconfirm your Postal address and telephone number:
    Full Name:
    Postal Address:
    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

    Password: (boy).

    Dr Ellen R..Gomez,
    Managing Director .
    Shell Petroleum Company Spain.
    No 72 Avenida Parque Grande,
    Madrid Spain.

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

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