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December 05, 2003

419 exclusive - the scammer speaks! A few days ago, Daily Summit covered what people claim is one of Nigeria's biggest industries - separating gullible foreigners from their money.

Now, we have an interview with an ex-fraudster - a motor mechanic by trade, who left Benin for Lagos in the hope of making bigger money. Here's what he has to say:

"It is about greed, yes. But it was also the economic situation. I was asked by a friend to get involved in a scam. There is so much unemployment, that it seemed to be a quick way to make money. If we had jobs we would not be doing it. Even so, there are also students at university doing it and even civil servants who want to make more money."

"Whatever you get from it, it can take months and years before you get a client. And it has to be somewhere like Lagos or Port Harcourt where you can easily make country to country calls."

"We usually did it teams. It might be one or two people. Or if it was very successful, you might have a team of eight, nine or ten. It means that when a client rings up he can speak to the 'Manager' one time, and then the next time it would be the 'Public Relations officer'."

"Some of the big boys make millions every year. For instance if you have a small team, and you can make two to three million in one go. You only need to do it two or three times a year and you are living very well. Some of them even have big company holdings, factories and filling stations to cover it up."

"When we began, we used letters. The important thing was to get genuine letterheads. Oil companies were good because everybody knows about Nigerian oil. The internet makes it much easier. You can get long lists and pick the email addresses that suit you."

"But then you would have to send out maybe 500 letters before you would get a reply. Sometimes people would get the same letter from different people and the game would be up."

"If we sense danger we lock up the premises and watch for security men. And if it gets hot, we quickly put some money aside to pay the security men. $1,000 for a policeman who earns about $100 dollars a month is hard to resist."

"Then you are in a better position. He may come to you and give a warning, 'that game is up, don't keep on with it'. Some who are caught have 'godfathers' in the government, who can shield you and provide a distraction to any investigation."

More from Daily Summit on 419 scams here...
Mick Fealty @ December 5, 2003 10:01 AM | TrackBack

Comments (21)
Imagine if this intelligence were cultivated for more honorable eCommerce...
Taran @ December 5, 2003 01:53 PM
Oh please. E commerce?

Cultures have personality traits like induviduals. Italy produced Michelangelo and Leonardo Da vinci, Africa produces failed marxist dictators and email scammers. Get used to it, it's not going to change any time soon.
Amos @ December 5, 2003 03:13 PM
And the alphabet, and the pyramids, and Nelson Mandela. Plus all world civilizations.

Get used to it, it's not going to change any time soon
Rich~! @ December 5, 2003 04:02 PM
A few years ago, out of curiosity, I initiated an e-mail conversation with a Nigerian scammer. He was smart, articulate and, once he realized I wasn't going to give him my bank account number, very friendly. He said he was a civil servant and had a son in school in England, which is why he needed to make more money. It ended when I told him it was a shame a person with his abilities had to steal from others.
Bob @ December 5, 2003 04:16 PM
Amos, you have to respect the ingenuity behind the scam. If you are stating that because Nigeria has become known for 419, then we could say that La Cosa Nostra is representative of Italy. That's hardly fair to either.

Getting into a prejudicial debate at a cultural level is no better than involvement in one of a individual level - in fact it's worse, because we could toss in the Roman Empire and Africa.

However, the intelligence required to build such organizations - given appropriate direction and infrastructure - could permit more 'legitimate' use of intelligence, to the same ends. That's the point, and if you fail to see that...
Taran @ December 5, 2003 04:54 PM
Taran -
you have a point, but are missing a bigger one -he's still a criminal. Pulling for the fellow's 'ingenuity' quietly corrodes ones' ethics.
I know that it's hard to resist having a little bit of bonhomie with a smart crook (especially if they've got a sense of homour), but with time, you'll stop thinking that a crime is in fact, a crime.

Joe @ December 5, 2003 07:07 PM

I never defended the crime. Perhaps you misread. ;)

Taran @ December 6, 2003 01:27 AM
One gets the impresion when you meet a Nigerian [weather or not it's true] that these people have never learned the diferance between right and wrong and that one should just take what one can get and hang the consequenses. My wife was in the Peace Corps in Biafra and thats the impresion she came back with and my own experiance with Nigerian imagrants confirms this
Robert Wooten @ December 7, 2003 11:03 PM

I could say the same about any country if I meet people of the same economic (dis)advantages. I ask you to tour a poor neighbourhood near you.
Taran @ December 8, 2003 07:08 PM
One gets the impression when you meet someone from Dallas [like Robert Woooten] [weather or not it's true] that they have never lerned to speel or any grammer. My wife was in the Oil Industry in Dalas and thats the impresion she came back with and my own experiance with Texan imagrants confirms this
Not Robert Wooten @ December 8, 2003 07:37 PM
Vicky @ December 8, 2003 07:48 PM
Ferpect! :)
Taran @ December 8, 2003 08:20 PM
Remember it takes two to tango?Both the scammer and his victim are crooks.Can you remember that Italy not only has the mafia as part of its culture, but has exported it to the USA?So get it right, just as majority of italians are honest people so also, majority of Nigerians are very honest people.By the way all this talk of economic reasone why the scammers get into their act is no excuse at all.The simple truth is that greed is the driving force for both the scammer and his victim.
byusuf @ December 9, 2003 11:59 AM

Agreed. But greed is also a motivational factor in regular business as well - wouldn't you agree?

Taran @ December 9, 2003 02:21 PM

Agreed. But greed is also a motivational factor in regular business as well - wouldn't you agree?

Taran @ December 9, 2003 02:23 PM
Lack of legitimate opportunities may be another factor. On the way home from Abuja I met a Nigerian Doctor who now lives and works in Dublin. He said that of all the graduates from his class only two or three stayed to work in Nigeria, and that there were more Nigerian born consultants in the states of New Jersey and New York than in thier home country.
Mick @ December 13, 2003 11:19 AM
"both the scammer and his victim are crooks".

It's a "supply & demand" 'orchestra'; if there were not idiotic naive / greedy schmucks, there would be no scammers.
Travel @ January 21, 2004 11:11 AM
nigerians are all crooks
oz baiter @ June 22, 2004 02:19 AM
No, not ALL Nigerians are crooks, but enough are that the reputation of their country has forever been tarnished and those who are honest have been painted by the same broad brush. Anyone doing any business in West Africa is a fool.
B. Pileon @ June 22, 2004 03:14 AM
I have an urgent proposition to discuss with you. Email for modalities.
Dive Fox @ June 22, 2004 12:14 PM
We both know that this wasn't written by oz, Biff. That was Outlooky/Jus10 that little shit. Jus10, you better tighten security on your rig now...

Lord Vader @ June 22, 2004 12:20 PM

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