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 Why Nigerians ?

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TheKnightWhoSaysNi
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:24 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Does anyone know why the majority of scammers are from Nigerians ? Whats so special about this country ? And what is so special about the town of Lagos, where most of them are from ?

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mrsbean
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:33 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Google for "yahoo yahoo boys" Lagos Nigeria.

You'll get a wealth of news articles like the following.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1215/p07s02-woaf.html

That focuses on the political aspects, which doesn't tell the entire tale, but it's a start. And it's a little slanted toward the idea that scammers are taking "revenge", which is not nearly as true as this article seems to think it is, in my experience. I've baited as a child of ex-pat Nigerians, and the scammers still had no problem trying to steal my money.

There's also an ingrained cultural idea that if you can "put one over on someone else" to your benefit, you're clever and you've "won" some sort of "game", which means you "deserve" your "reward".

In other words, the complete answer to your question "why" could fill several books, historical, political, anthropological, sociological and psychological.

As for Lagos, it's a big city, it has a high population, and the cops there are known to accept bribes from 419ers to turn a blind eye, for a start. Part of it's the same reason that, say, New York city has a higher incidence of crime than Mayberry.

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Scam Patroller
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:33 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

There are millions more people in Nigeria than any other African country, being the most populous, you will of course get more bad guys, they generally have better educations in Nigeria, they also have a better telecommunication infrastructure than other more impoverished African countries, when you put things such as those together, you get lads.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_African_countries_by_population

African populations in millions:

Quote:
- Africa 934,283,426
1 Nigeria 135,031,164
2 Egypt 80,335,036
3 Ethiopia 76,511,887
4 Congo-Kinshasa 65,751,512
5 South Africa 43,997,828
6 Tanzania 39,384,223
7 Sudan 39,379,358
8 Kenya 36,913,721
9 Morocco 33,757,175
10 Algeria 33,333,216

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Mugatu
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 1:43 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Excellent answer from Mrs Bean.

The reasons are many, as discussed above. For an inside look at what Nigerians think of 419, have a look at the Nigeria community forums at http://www.nairaland.com/

In particular, look in the general discussion forums on life in Nigeria. (Please don't troll, it's a genuine website for honest, everyday Nigerian citizens).
The thoughts vary from "If Americans are so stupid to fall for it, more fool them" all the way to "AFF is a serious blight on the reputation of our great country". It's pretty enlightening reading.

Corruption is a terrible thing, generally wherever you see widespread corruption in a Police Force you will find scams and cheat chemes of one description or another cropping up. The relatively high tech level in Nigeria adds to that, (again, see the Nairaland tech forums) and the low wages and standard of living add fuel to the fire.

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Stoker Thompson
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:39 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^^ agreed. However anywhere you have technology, educated people and low employment rates or low paying employment then a percent of the population will turn to this sort of thing. That's why we've seen scamming become an international pastime.
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ParaNoid
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:45 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

@Mugatu thanks for the site. Interesting cultural article that was linked there. Here is the first line in the article.
Quote:
CENTRAL Bank governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, may have incurred the wrath of the elders in the music industry with his on-going campaign against spraying of money at parties.


This historical bit was interesting too.
Quote:
In the early days, our kings sprayed with cowries in a manner that depicted their status in the society.

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Mugatu
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:57 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^ Nairaland is a pretty awesome site for so many reasons, I tend to pimp it out quite a lot here, but I make no apologies for that. I think that for anyone trying to get inside a Nigerian lads' mind, it should be required reading.

Glad you liked it, and sorry for being a little off topic.

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foxtrot911
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 8:53 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

@Bean (and Mugatu),

I think your last statement about cops taking bribes is one of the keys, though you're right, the answer is extremely complicated. Probably we could just say that there will always be people out there wanting to get something for nothing, and when the law doesn't make it more trouble than its worth, it runs rampant. So we'd probably have a large(r) population of scammers here in the US, except that most do get caught and the penalties are pretty stiff.

That argument could perhaps be rebutted, though, by looking at some European countries which have good enforcement, but still a relatively large scammer population.

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Mugatu
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:07 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^^ Indeed, but then remember that all countries are impotent at targeting AFF. It spans global boundaries, but unlike say, drug trafficking, it isn't worth the massive liaison and cost issues for the sentences involved, so it's just not actively combatted by any law enforcement in the world..

Remember also that the US and Canada etc have strict immigration policies compared to most EU countries, so your cities of Amsterdam, Dublin, London and Paris for example will always have a much higher population of scammers than say New York.

Quote:
more trouble than its worth

^ That was the key phrase you used I think. It's always risk versus reward where crime is concerned. And in the case of AFF, the risk is very low, almost negligible, for a phenomenally high reward, relatively speaking.

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foxtrot911
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:50 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

@Mugatu, Good point about immigration. That definitely is a deciding factor, but I also think that more US natives would be involved in this sort of operation were it not for laws governing it. There would be no need to cross international boundaries, though of course the operations would (and do, for the few that exist) look slightly different, since traceability becomes more of a problem (for the scammer).

Of course, here the (often dreaded) poverty argument comes into play, since some would say that poverty in large part drives scams of this sort. However, I don't think that the argument that a person engages in a scam simply because he or she is starving really holds water. The lads know what they're doing, and they know it's against the law. While poverty is certainly a horrible thing, and while Nigeria and other countries should always be the objects of our sympathy and our help, criminal activity is simply not an acceptable way for anyone, starving or otherwise, to make money. The lads know what they're doing and they know it's dishonest. I think that most, if not all of them don't do it to keep from starving - they do it for the same reason that anyone else steals, and that is greed.

Just my two cents. Better minds than mine have said a lot more than I ever will on this topic.

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BRUIN
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:56 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Somewhere I read an article, which I (alas) cannot cite, which analyzed the culture of corruption and scam which pervades Nigerian society like a cancer. The author of the article opined that both governmental corruption (which is pervasive) and the scammer subculture in Nigeria arise from the same cultural heritage. He used a phrase that stuck with me - a "reverse of the protestant work ethic", which culturally disdains hard work, of any sort, as something to be avoided where possible, and respected the individual who could control the labor, or reap the rewards, of others' work.

Does anyone recognize this reference? I did a google search and could not relocate it, but if anybody has a lead, I would very much like to re-read the article.

Bruin

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foxtrot911
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:17 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^Bruin, I also recall having read something similar but also don't remember where. Though as I remember the author was referring to a large part of Africa, and just using Nigeria as an example (though I could be wrong). Either way it's an interesting point.

Of course, we have to be careful here lest we cross the line between cultural analysis and racial slur. It's one thing to infer that a person does something because they're culturally wired that way, and quite another to say that they do something because they're of a certain race. I think care must be taken not to cross this line, even subconsciously.

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mrsbean
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 4:01 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

foxtrot911 wrote:
That argument could perhaps be rebutted, though, by looking at some European countries which have good enforcement, but still a relatively large scammer population.


I guess it may depend on what you mean by "good enforcement". Does, say, the Netherlands, have a much more effective police force with much less corruption and more resources? No contest. But Amsterdam still has a flourishing (and somewhat open) scammer population. A certain organization even takes "curious tourists" on "paid tours" of web cafes where they operate and let you watch them"work". It's not quite Lagos, but I call that pretty public.

Why? Well, again, it's probably more complicated than this, but I suspect these facts have a large bearing on it. 419 is only rarely a violent crime on European soil, and the amounts stolen are often smaller, meaning the charges/punishments will be smaller. Police are understandably reluctant to spend thousands of dollars worth of police and legal system resources and effort going after a scammer who can only be charged with a misdemeanor who will get off with a slap on the wrist, if that. When they are larger crimes that carry heavier penalties, they often go unreported, because the victim is embarrassed or has no idea who to report it to.

Also, as I understand it, a lot of the ex-pat scammers won't even be punished with jail time, they'll simply get deported. They'll be stuck on a plane and sent home.

If I knew that, for my efforts, I could probably expect the scumbag who stole granny's life savings to get a free plane ride home, I might not be so enthusiastic about redirecting resources from more violent/spectacular crimes to weeding out scammers.

And there's also that pesky, persistent myth that people who fall for scams somehow "bring it on themselves" or "should have known better". All of the above and more may prevent even the best of police departments from going whole hog after scammers. They only have so many resources, and they have to decide how best to use them.

And even with European-based scammers, it doesn't take too much effort to make the evidence look pretty thin. They can be just as anonymous in Amsterdam as they can in Lagos. Western Union is still easy to pick up with fake ID or no ID. They can still use prepaid cells registered to false identities for untraceable phone numbers, web cafes and free emails that make identifying them next to impossible. Unless a lad takes a chance with a face to face with a reliable eyewitness and/or opening a bank account in a country with decent banking regulations, he still has almost zero chance of being convicted.

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