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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Apr 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?

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