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Times Are Tough For Nigerian Scammers 232

The Narrative Fallacy writes "The Washington Post reports that online swindling takes dedication even in the best of times but succeeding in the midst of a worldwide economic meltdown takes patience, resolve, and hard work. 'We are working harder. The financial crisis is not making it easy for them over there,' said Banjo, 24, speaking about Americans, whose trust he has won and whose money he has fleeced, via his Dell laptop. 'They don't have money. And the money they don't have, we want.' US authorities say Americans — the easiest prey, according to Nigerian scammers — still lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year to cybercrimes, including a scheme known as the Nigerian 419 fraud, named for a section of the Nigerian criminal code. 419 is cemented in Nigerian popular culture. and the scammers, known as 'yahoo-yahoo boys,' are glorified in pop songs such as 'Yahoozee,' which gained even more fame after former secretary of state Colin L. Powell danced to it at a London festival last year."
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Times Are Tough For Nigerian Scammers

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  • breaking my heart (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sun.Jedi ( 1280674 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:19PM (#28999931) Journal
    I only wish the reason was because our education was getting the job done.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 )
      I was going to make a post that indirectly pointed out that "Internet Scams" would be a little out of place on a Class Schedule, but then I realized that school calls it "English 101".
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:19PM (#28999933) Journal
    If these Nigerian scammers were any good, they'd be working at Goldman Sachs, not pulling penny-ante internet operations...
    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @11:02PM (#29000171) Journal

      If these Nigerian scammers were any good, they'd be working at Goldman Sachs, not pulling penny-ante internet operations...

      What makes you think the difference has anything to do with differences in ability and is unrelated to geographic opportunity?

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @11:42PM (#29000373) Journal
        My post was a combination of whoring for "funny" and impotently expressing my displeasure with Goldman's more or less perfect execution of regulatory capture.

        If anything, I suspect that the Nigerian scammers are, on the whole, smart, motivated and fairly unprincipled, guys working in a tough competitive market. I have no love for scammers, and I'd be delighted to have them all hunted down; but underestimating the capabilities needed for crime, particularly fraud based crime, is just silly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jhol13 ( 1087781 )

      Are you implying guys in GS are any good?

      I do not know GS particularly, but the idea is the same: few get money (bosses), no real money is involved ("dyed money"/"futures") and the customer are lied.

    • by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @12:40AM (#29000615)

      Damn straight. Nobody scams better.

      USA! USA!


    • Which would also entitle them to a government bailout. Problem solved. Bonus saved.
  • by OakDragon ( 885217 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:20PM (#28999941) Journal

    I would have suspected that Americans might have fallen prey more easily. Hard times can lead to more desperate measures.

    Or maybe people are turning off their Internet service...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I don't think the number of victims has decreased, just the payouts.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Buried way down in paragraph six of the Post article:

      Now financially squeezed, Americans succumb even more easily to offers of riches, experts say.

    • by ahabswhale ( 1189519 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @12:44AM (#29000623)
      Nah, Americans are just fucking stupid. Our education system breeds retards who aren't expected to think more than what "OMGWTFBFF" text message they are going to send next. Set low expectations and that's what you'll get, so we got it. And if you think I'm just trolling or flame baiting, do some google searches and see what simple shit questions the typical American can't answer. It's shocking. FYI...I'm an American.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        do some google searches and see what simple shit questions the typical American can't answer. It's shocking. FYI...I'm an American.

        it's amazing how dumb you can make someone look when you write questions with the idea of seeing how dumb you can make them look. (Some dumb British comedian even made a movie about it a few years back.)

        Most of the questions you'll see asked are simply irrelevant to an American's life. And as such, if you ask them right off the head, they often as not won't have an answer. This is not a sign of poor thinking -- it's a sign of INTELLIGENCE.

        Want to really test American IQ? (Or, hell, anyone's IQ, for that

  • by assemblerex ( 1275164 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:31PM (#28999987)
    Hello I am a Nigerian judge Mumbasa Mfune III. I am collecting funds to create a task force to reclaim lost monies in Nigeria.

    If you have lost monies in Nigeria, for the low donation of $2500, I can reclaim ALL lost assets.

    Please contact me immediately at
  • by Whatsisname ( 891214 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:32PM (#29000003) Homepage

    How did this interview take place? Why did the interviewer not do the world a favor and kill the guys on the spot, or at least identify him to authorities that will shut them down?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      because when all is said and done, the Interviewer gets to fly back to his airconditioned condo in New York, drink expensive Hawaiian coffee and tool around in his BMW. The Interviewee gets to stay and sweat like a pig in the swampy hellhole called Nigeria, where he gets to slap some stupid jitney driver in the unending clusterfuck they call traffic, and suck down a lukewarm coke in the muddy concrete and cardboard dump he calls home, as the interviewer operates from the "there but for the grace of god go
      • by LearnToSpell ( 694184 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:50PM (#29000099) Homepage
        I don't know... living in New York myself, sweat like a pig in the swampy hellhole, where he gets to slap some stupid jitney driver in the unending clusterfuck they call traffic, and suck down a lukewarm coke in the muddy concrete and cardboard dump he calls home sounds exactly like here. You get those locales backwards or something?
      • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @12:24AM (#29000565)

        1) The correspondant writes for the WASHINGTON post, and SHE lives in SOUTH AFRICA. Where does it say anything about New York?
        2) I think you seriously overestimate what a print journalist makes.
        3) I think you seriously underestimate the conditions the Nigerian scammers (and the middle/upper class in their country) live in

        Did you evern RTFA at all before you spouted your drivel!?

        "young men with fancy cars, designer clothing and beautiful girlfriends -- scammers all"

        "In good months, he said, he has made $30,000, which he blew on clothes, hotel rooms and Dom Perignon at "VVIP" clubs. These days, he lamented, proceeds are down 40 percent."

        Yeah. Cry me a river. Poor starving Nigerian scammer, who I'm sure makes more in 3 months than the journalist made in a year. I bet it was LUKEWARM Dom Perignon, though! The agony!

        • by raehl ( 609729 )

          Ok, so a bad month is, what, $20k? So $240,000 a year? And down 40% of that is still $136,000 a year?

          In NIGERIA?

          Dude probably owns a village or two by now.

        • I bet it was LUKEWARM Dom Perignon, though!

          Uh... is lukewarm Dom Perignon for some reason cheaper than cold?

          I'd assume lukewarm dom would be just as expensive, but then again, I would have assumed that no one would actually buy booze for over a hundred dollars a bottle, regardless of how much money they scammed online.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:53PM (#29000125) Journal
      Probably for (in the broad sense) the same reasons that an undercover cop doesn't attempt to arrest the mob boss, and a spy is a diligent worker, not a slacker, at whatever facility he is infiltrating.

      Journalists, ideally, are a society's way of getting and broadly disseminating certain types of information. In this case, the value of the public knowing more about Nigerian scammers is easily higher than the value of one scammer possibly getting a slap on the wrist, or even a bullet in the face. There are all sorts of situations where doing the proximate "right thing" will mean losing the broader advantage: taking down the little fish and missing out on the expose of the little fish's boss.

      This is especially true in situations where the journalist is operating against the currents of official interest/motivation. If the feds, either here or in Nigera, really cared(about anything other than the highest profile and most exceptional or publicly emotive cases) they'd find it trivial to hunt down large numbers of these guys. Just get a whole bunch of spamtrap accounts, scattered randomly across common webmail services, ISP email offerings, and the like. When the inevitable submissions come, act like marks until you have enough info to track the guys down. In general, interest is limited. Thus, raising interest/awareness in the issue, and possibly helping people protect themselves more effectively, is a lot more valuable than just identifying some minor player who could have been identified already if anybody cared. (In the context of internal political reporting, the situation is similar. Corruption at the low levels is generally a symptom of much more serious high level corruption, and exists because the powers that be don't care. Raising the issue of a single corrupt cop or DMV chair warmer, or whatever, is nice; but is like trying to empty a lake with a shovel. You really want journalists to go for the core of the problem.)
      • Journalists, ideally, are a society's way of getting and broadly disseminating certain types of information.

        Namely, their employer's opinions.

      • by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @01:10AM (#29000685)

        The FBI et. all don't actively pursue Nigerian scammers for the simple reason that they cannot pursue Nigerian scammers. It has nothing to do with "taking down the boss". If those Nigerians lived in the US they would be in jail. Period.

        First, the US cannot go after Nigerian scammers because they live in frickin Nigeria, the US has no authority there and at best can only exert a moderate amount of pressure to encourage Nigerian officials to pursue the scammers.

        Second, every US citizen has the right to be a dumbass. There was a story here on /. a few months ago of a woman who sent around $450k to a Nigerian scammer. She blew her husband's retirement on it even. The entire community knew it was happening, and tried to stop her, told her she was being scammed, hell the sheriff even asked her to stop, but there was nothing they could legally do to stop her from pissing her money away. She was convinced each time that she was just "one more payment" away from getting those millions of dollars. Where the hell her husband was this whole time I have no idea, but if someone wants to be a dumbass nobody has a right to stop you unless you are doing something illegal.

        Getting scammed is not illegal.

        Nigerian officials obviously aren't going to do more than a token attempt to go after these guys to improve US relations, because they boost the Nigerian economy. Think about it, they are getting US money by exporting idiocy. And Americans buy it in droves, unfortunately.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mochan_s ( 536939 )
          There are various forms of scams where people in the US are needed. I was in one (no, I didn't lose money, I just wanted to see where it would lead) where the scammer mailed me 6 $1000 CVS money orders by MoneyGram. I knew I would be arrested if I tried to cash the money orders. Anyway, I wanted to play along and see where it would lead but the scammer's English started deteriorating to such a point that I didn't even want to keep communicating.

          However, my point is that the scammer had someone in the US m

          • by unitron ( 5733 )

            If that stuff was sent to you via the U.S. Postal Service you should contact the local Postal Inspector. They're actual federal law enforcement officers, just like the FBI and Secret Service, and they love to catch people using the mail to break the law, any law.

        • We all say "that scam is stupid, it could not happen to me", and then I watched a video demo of the "pidgeon drop" confidence game.

          I can kinda see being taken by some scam artist where there is some face-to-face contact. The way the "pidgeon drop" works is that the con artists drop some envelope full of money behind you, the con calls your attention to it "is this your money you dropped. Part of how this work is that an accomplice walks by posing as a "disinterested third party" to build up the crucial

    • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:57PM (#29000145) Homepage

      So he would live and be able to write about it?

    • Yeah, like that would solve all the problems.

    • you might be interested in my comedy novelet, where this slashdot guy, call him whoseisname, just hates nigerian scammers and performs a social engineering experiment. He responds to several of their spam scams, gets their instructions and strings them along getting them to believe large sums of money are coming their way. But slashdot guy starts sending them responses leading them to believe one scammer group has interfered with and intercepted the funds meant for another. Thus he gets the Nigerian scam

    • "How did this interview take place? Why did the interviewer not do the world a favor and kill the guys on the spot, or at least identify him to authorities that will shut them down?"

      Case study: It's ignorance of this level that makes Americans the easiest scam targets.

    • by Coeurderoy ( 717228 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @03:37AM (#29001105)

      Great idea, it would certainly encourage all other "bad guys" to accept interviews with the medias...

      Reporters do not shoot their informant, that is the way it works...

      You could just as well ask clinton why did he not just shoot the "dear leader" in N Korea when he met him....
      (ok so he'd die, the US Hostage also, but no price is too high ? oups of course there would be that little issue with being a suicide something getting a bad press recently..)

  • The Sting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bolt_the_dhampir ( 1545719 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:39PM (#29000033)
    I wonder if any nigerian has ever tried it? By the way, about the 419's, check out [] Scambait is great!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)


      Thanks for the link.

      Monty Python's "Dead Parrot Sketch" performed by Nigerian Email Scammers. Truly priceless. Almost worth the price they were promised.

      The link. Make sure you follow the story all the way to AT LEAST the video on page 3. []

    • Re:The Sting (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kamokazi ( 1080091 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @04:08AM (#29001171)
      Yeah I did that for a while, it's a blast...I have several voice recordings of VERY pissed off east Africans :-) Never went for trophy pics or anything though. I highly recommend the Slashdot crowd checks it out...they 419eater crew runs a clean shop, they're very stringent on scambaiting for de-education of the scammers and making sure to not provide them any materials (fake IDs, etc) that could be used on real victims. They have a lot of neat tools to make the process easier and generally waste scammer time.
      • by unitron ( 5733 )

        Re: your sig

        As our way of thanking you for your positive contributions to Slashdot, you are eligible to disable Slashdot 2.0.

        You are so cruel to toy with my hopes in that way.

      • by TheLink ( 130905 )
        > They have a lot of neat tools to make the process easier and generally waste scammer time.

        Does that include AI software?
  • Evidentally, it's even possible to run low on fools. Or at least fools who have not yet been separated from their money. P.T. Barnum must be rolling in his grave.
  • by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @10:47PM (#29000085)

    There must be some kind of famine or something in Nigeria, I've received about 15 emails in the last 3 months, all from people telling me their father/brother/uncle/etc. had "caught death". Terrible!
    And to make matters worse, they can't get the money that's rightfully theirs from the banks! Honestly, something should really be done about this.

  • Scamming works, even for schemes widely known from years. Be an scammer and will be pretty rare that you get caught, in your country will make songs about you, and even the Washington post will put your name in big letters. And money flow so much that even in this troubled economic times is still profitable, even with the amount of people doing it.

    A bit remembers me the amount of people buying what is offered by spam, and making it still a profitable activity, but this one goes some levels deep into the ill
  • by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Saturday August 08, 2009 @11:13PM (#29000223)

    Anyone else see the poetic justice in some back-jungle Shaman fleecing these guys out of their hard-swindled cash?

    $300 for mojo powder...probably ashes from the fire he burns his extra cash in...Turtles on a string. I love it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hours of hilarious reading, pics and audio- these guys get very creative. Freight baits ROCK!!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How can you have sympathy for anyone who falls for this crap? In Nigeria 419 is viewed as a game. Anyone who plays (poor innocent Americans) is just greedy themselves. How dumb do you have to be to think that you can get something for nothing ? I hate the fact the Nigeria is given a bad rep for this, but Americans are xenophobic to anything especially from that country "Africa". Just wait until American realize Nigeria has a large Muslim population.....

  • 6 years ago (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AnAdventurer ( 1548515 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @12:55AM (#29000671)
    in 2003 I recovered $15,000 for someone who lost their money to a web based computer scam. It was not easy and I didn't kill anyone (at the request on my client). Africa is a dangerous place. I have been doing stuff for a while, the odds of you getting all your money back are pretty much 0%. In fact I would say I did not get my clients money back, I probably got them someone else's money.
    • Your webpage says: I had 1 1/2 boxes of target ammo for that plus a Box of Buffalo Bore (for bears) and a box of Hydroshock (for people).

      Are you arming bears while you bear arms?
    • Re:6 years ago (Score:5, Interesting)

      by C0L0PH0N ( 613595 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @11:39AM (#29002771)
      In 2008, I did NOT get a 90-year-old retired friend's money back. He lost over half a million dollars to a Nigerian scammer! I felt somehow personally responsible, because about a year ago, he came over to my office to request that I fax some financial documents to a bank in Switzerland. I didn't even look at them, other than to notice that one was for $200,000 and the other $350,000. Four months later, he came over and wanted me to fax some documents to a "barrister" in London. I couldn't get the phone number to work, so I started checking on the address. I found it was a phony address, but nestled right in amongst "barrister row" in a suburb of London. I started checking on the barrister, "David Mark". Surprisingly, he didn't even change his name, and was linked to dozens of Nigerian scams. He DID use a "hotmail" address, which is a big red flag for a "barrister" :). I discovered this "barrister" was promising my friend to get some of his money back, but that it would require "$40,000" fee. Evil, this was just the scammers continuing to prey on this poor man who had already lost almost all his money. He had actually already travelled (I found out) to Amsterdam to meet with these people. He had the $40,000 in a money belt to give them, but the airport authorities wouldn't let him out of the airport with the money and deported him back to America. LUCKY! He could see the scammers on the other side of the airport lines, holding up a card with his name on it! That is how close he was to losing his last $40,000. I finally was able to convince him (it wasn't easy) that these were scammers, and that his only recourse was to report it to the FBI, and that he most likely would never see his money again. This was very very hard for him. And he was a retired ENGINEER, no dummy, a very smart person. But old people are vulnerable to this sort of thing. Please tell all your old retired friends about these scammers. They are real, very very convincing world-class scam artists. When they get a bite, they turn it over to their very best con artists, and your friends will be in real danger of being fleeced.
  • When I read the article, the thing that struck me was that the scammers are so desperate, they trying voodoo majic to boost their believability. One guy has a live tortoise hanging around his neck to boost his mojo. Sounds like a market ripe for a new product idea:

    Your sma11 unit sales got you down? Bulk up that member ship!

    Girls find you more attractive with our herbal honesty reproduction enhancer. Get more faith-time from those gullible Americans with new ultra power Premier gold medal deluxe Truth Be Told powder. Distilled from the pulverized testicles of tobacco company lawyers, this is genuine disingenuity at it's most potent concentration. Guaranteed to have them eating out of the palm of your hand, you will be invincible in email encounters. []
  • by dicobalt ( 1536225 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @01:18AM (#29000711)
    Imagine being tricked by a con artist named Banjo. I wonder if he has a friend Kazooie.
  • "which gained even more fame after former secretary of state Colin L. Powell danced to it at a London festival last year."

    Yeah, that's how all the kids decide which songs are hot nowadays.

    Secretary's of state need to be more careful, lest we have another summer like that time Warren Christopher danced to I Saw the Sign by Ace of Base.

  • They just target a different segment of the population now. When times are good they seem to focus on the not so bright who are slightly greedy with a little cash to spare. When times are tough they seem to focus more on the more vulnerable and desperate. To give an example I have been looking for a new apartment, and have been using craigslist to look for rentals. They still have deals that are too good to be true, and not just bait and switch deals from unscrupulous realtors. I ran across one where t
  • 419 Scam Baiting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @01:18PM (#29003395)
    I have noticed that it is harder to engage in this activity. I used to enjoy wasting as much of these cat's time as possible and then arranging to meet them in London and never show. Then, when I get the response, "I was greatly disappointed to see that you never arrived for our meeting," I would come up with some other excuse like a sick family member or something or other and arrange another meeting. I would do this until I heard from the scammer no more. Might be that these guys share information because my email no longer gets 419 scams. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

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