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  #1  
Old 01-26-2011, 01:43 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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What's the straight dope on Nigerian email scams?

Thanks, SDMB. Thirty years on the internet and I finally get a Nigerian email. I was feeling left out.

But now that I'm in the club, can somebody tell me how these things are supposed to work? How does somebody who can't spell plane correctly manage to post hundreds of emails?

Are these things supposed to be real? Is there somebody who really expects people to fall for this? Or is it just trolling or viral marketing for some website?
  #2  
Old 01-26-2011, 01:52 PM
running coach running coach is offline
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You send them your banking info, they clean you out.

And yes, people fall for this everyday, else they wouldn't bother.
  #3  
Old 01-26-2011, 01:52 PM
SpoilerVirgin SpoilerVirgin is offline
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Snopes will give you the background on how the scams work.

Sadly, not only are they real, but people have fallen for them to the tune of millions of dollars, and in once case being murdered in Nigeria. For an excellent analysis of how one person fell for the scam, read this New Yorker article.
  #4  
Old 01-26-2011, 02:07 PM
Mikemike2 Mikemike2 is offline
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Yes, these really get people, greed never fails to get victims, no matter how many times these frauds are exposed. Usually how they work is that arrangements are made to "transfer" the money to the victim, but some small fee for paperwork or to grease the right palm comes up just before the millions can be released.

If you do a search there are a lot of people who ruthlessly play with these scammers by seeming to be going along with the scam, while making asses of the scammers and making them go through all kinds of hoops and wasting the scammer's time.

Last edited by Mikemike2; 01-26-2011 at 02:09 PM.
  #5  
Old 01-26-2011, 02:07 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Some people suspect that the poor grammar and misspellings are, at least in part, deliberate, to make the "mark" feel smug and superior to the simpleton that is trying to get help with their illicit windfall.
  #6  
Old 01-26-2011, 02:07 PM
Derleth Derleth is online now
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Finally, the economics of email work such that it's more than worthwhile to send your message to a million people if you think there's a 1-2% chance of one of them responding in the way you want. It's all about playing the odds, and the fact email is really, really cheap to send.

This is where groups like Bait-A-Mugu and 419 Eater come in: They respond to emails as if they're hooked, but instead play the scammer for a while before releasing him, wasting his time and skewing the economics away from profitability. They know enough to do this safely (never go anywhere they tell you to go, never give them real information, etc.) and the results can be quite humorous. (You wouldn't believe what those criminal morons will do until you see some of the pictures they got from them.)
  #7  
Old 01-26-2011, 02:11 PM
beartato beartato is offline
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They expect people to fall for it because people have. I have been in internet cafes in Western Africa with dozens of people who sit there for hours at a time, sending out these emails. It's a low-tech operation: You encounter lots of people who will start begging for money in a hassling way; when you say no, they will ask for your email address, just to "send blessings". This is also done by housekeepers at hotels, boat tour operators, and so on. They start talking to you, they give you there (questionably authentic) sob story, they ask that you "just give me only" your email address, so they can keep you updated. They will sell the email addresses they collect to the kids who go to the cafes to write the emails. It rarely seems to be the Nigerian Prince, anymore; most of those I get purport to be from a lady with six kids or something. Who's falling for it? You always hear people say the elderly, but I think a lot of it is people who went on vacations in third world countries, listened to all the advice about not pulling your wallet out on the street or giving to beggars, but now feel guilty about it.
  #8  
Old 01-26-2011, 02:23 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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I'm not asking if any email frauds ever work. I'm wondering if such transparently bad ones are expected to work.

Look at the example in Snopes:
Quote:
The source of this fund is as follow; During the last military regime here in Nigeria, the government officials set up companies and awarded themselves contracts which were grossly over-invoiced in various ministries. The present civilian government set up a contract review panel and we have identified a lot of inflated contract funds which are presently floating in the Central Bank of Nigeria ready for payment.
Bullshit, but articulate bullshit that at least sounds like something a businessman would write.

Now look at the email many of us received today:
Quote:
The Fund is currently in a suspense account awaiting claim, the bank made a public notice that they are ready to release this fund to any of his relatives abroad. THEREFORE, by virtue of its nature as being utterly CONFIDENTIAL, top secret should be maintained please!,because i am still in the active service i do not need any form of implication especially now i am in the verge of my retirement to endanger my carear at last!.Since we got the information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come over and claim his money because we cannot release it unless some body applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines and laws.
This sounds like something written by an over-imaginative ten year old. If I received a letter like this from my bank, talking about legitimate business involving my existing account, I'd still suspect it because it was so poorly written.

That's why I feel that "danielsunho" whoever he is, does not expect anyone to send him their banking information. I figure he's either a troll or somebody who's trying to get people to email him for some other purpose.
  #9  
Old 01-26-2011, 02:36 PM
beartato beartato is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I'm not asking if any email frauds ever work. I'm wondering if such transparently bad ones are expected to work.
Yes, because people may think that the writer's first language is not English.

Also, I don't know about anyone else, but I receive a lot of emails from English-speaking members of my own family (Oh, Aunt Jill) with similarly poor grammar, spelling, and enthusiastic punctuation. The fact that they regularly write like this makes me think they're less likely to question it than people like Dopers. Throw in some enormous GIF images of sparkly kittens and sunflowers and parts of it could pass for any of the potluck invitations I receive.
  #10  
Old 01-26-2011, 02:42 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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But the real scammer really isn't fluent in English. I suppose the workaround is to just copy another scammer's pitch. But there are so many of pitches and you hardly ever see an exact duplicate, although of course the broad strokes are similar. It reads like it was composed by a semi-literate fraud because it was composed by a semi-literate fraud.

And they can't just "clean out your bank account" if you send them your bank account number. Rather, what usually happens is they send you a check, you deposit it, the check clears, you send them their 20%cut and you keep the 80%. Then in a week the bank says the check wasn't valid, and you're out all the money you sent to Nigeria.
  #11  
Old 01-26-2011, 02:46 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
And they can't just "clean out your bank account" if you send them your bank account number. Rather, what usually happens is they send you a check, you deposit it, the check clears, you send them their 20%cut and you keep the 80%. Then in a week the bank says the check wasn't valid, and you're out all the money you sent to Nigeria.
Or they require a few thousand dollars to "grease the wheels", bribe officials, whatever, before the millions can be released. Hence the common term "advance fee fraud".
  #12  
Old 01-26-2011, 02:49 PM
Mr. Kobayashi Mr. Kobayashi is offline
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This type of scam is nothing new - the 'Spanish Prisoner' con dates from the 19th century. E-mail adds a modern twist on the con, giving the scammers a wider target base.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Prisoner

Last edited by Mr. Kobayashi; 01-26-2011 at 02:49 PM.
  #13  
Old 01-26-2011, 03:10 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
But the real scammer really isn't fluent in English. I suppose the workaround is to just copy another scammer's pitch. But there are so many of pitches and you hardly ever see an exact duplicate, although of course the broad strokes are similar. It reads like it was composed by a semi-literate fraud because it was composed by a semi-literate fraud.

And they can't just "clean out your bank account" if you send them your bank account number. Rather, what usually happens is they send you a check, you deposit it, the check clears, you send them their 20%cut and you keep the 80%. Then in a week the bank says the check wasn't valid, and you're out all the money you sent to Nigeria.
That's kind of my point. How is a semi-literate who can't spell simple words or punctuate a sentence going to be able to manage a relatively sophisticated international check fraud? This guy doesn't sound like he could manage to open a checking account. Criminals of that intellectual caliber usually stick to something simpler like mugging people or robbing convenience stores.
  #14  
Old 01-26-2011, 04:13 PM
purplehorseshoe purplehorseshoe is offline
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Awww, I finally got one of these less than a year ago after feeling sorta left out, too. I get all sorts of other spam sometimes! I felt absurdly happy to finally be in the club, too.
  #15  
Old 01-26-2011, 04:20 PM
Bijou Drains Bijou Drains is online now
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My credit union has signs up warning people about these scams. It seems hard to believe that people fall for them but it happens.
  #16  
Old 01-26-2011, 04:31 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
That's kind of my point. How is a semi-literate who can't spell simple words or punctuate a sentence going to be able to manage a relatively sophisticated international check fraud? This guy doesn't sound like he could manage to open a checking account. Criminals of that intellectual caliber usually stick to something simpler like mugging people or robbing convenience stores.
So, there's a correlation between intelligence and the ability to communicate fluently in written English?
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Old 01-26-2011, 04:32 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
That's kind of my point. How is a semi-literate who can't spell simple words or punctuate a sentence going to be able to manage a relatively sophisticated international check fraud? This guy doesn't sound like he could manage to open a checking account. Criminals of that intellectual caliber usually stick to something simpler like mugging people or robbing convenience stores.
As I said upthread, don't take the spelling and grammar at face value.

For one thing, it can be a ploy to appear uneducated and make people think they are dealing with someone dumb and/or badly educated - after all, a dumb person can't scam me, right?

For another, often the emails are sent out by gangs of poorly paid kids and teenagers, and if they get a bite then it's the Fagin character that takes over and does the deal. These aren't one-man operations.
  #18  
Old 01-26-2011, 04:33 PM
Jas09 Jas09 is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
That's kind of my point. How is a semi-literate who can't spell simple words or punctuate a sentence going to be able to manage a relatively sophisticated international check fraud? This guy doesn't sound like he could manage to open a checking account. Criminals of that intellectual caliber usually stick to something simpler like mugging people or robbing convenience stores.
As I understand it the people writing the e-mails are not the ones running the scam - there is a "boss" if you will. Any bites get passed to him. One would assume he's the one that handles the actual money-scamming part (usually an advance-fee scam).
  #19  
Old 01-26-2011, 04:35 PM
Freddy the Pig Freddy the Pig is offline
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How is a semi-literate who can't spell simple words or punctuate a sentence going to be able to manage a relatively sophisticated international check fraud?
Without seeing your e-mail in full, it's impossible to say for sure. But in many scam e-mails, the sender doesn't pose as a person managing a sophisticated international check fraud; he or she poses as an honest simpleton, unsophisticated in the ways of finance and perhaps new to inherited wealth, who needs help from a stranger. Of course such a person wouldn't be fluent in English.

The mark can plausibly believe that he can take advantage of such a person, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for a few hours of work.
  #20  
Old 01-26-2011, 04:40 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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Many years ago, a guy in New Hampshire was scammed by a Nigerian. This guy happened to own the world's largest pile of old tires-and he was getting flack from the state and the EPA-about the dangers of this pile of rubber.
then he announced that he had the solution-he was going to sell the old tires to Nigeria for $1.00 each (how this was supposed to work, I have no idea). At any rate-the deal went sour-shortly after this, a mysterious fire started in his junkyard-and 10 million tires went up in flames.
I suspect that the guy was conned out of a lot of money-anyone know more about this incident?
  #21  
Old 01-26-2011, 04:44 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
That's kind of my point. How is a semi-literate who can't spell simple words or punctuate a sentence going to be able to manage a relatively sophisticated international check fraud? This guy doesn't sound like he could manage to open a checking account. Criminals of that intellectual caliber usually stick to something simpler like mugging people or robbing convenience stores.
Two points: first, fluency in English does not correlate directly with intellectual attainment; nor does typing skill. It's hardly necessary to compose these fraud emails in faultless English -- the victim is supposed to believe that the people perpetrating the schemes are stupid, greedy, and vain, and probably those that do fall for it are imagining that those "corrupt, backwards, Africans" can't write any better. As suggested above, the errors may be intented to promote this view. Besides, most of the scam stories are passed around, recycled, and mix'n'matched without proofreading -- the Nigerian scam industry works on volume, not quality. That hardly matters, though, because...

Second, it's not even "relatively" a sophisticated fraud. Mailing a bad check just isn't that complicated.
  #22  
Old 01-26-2011, 05:24 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
So, there's a correlation between intelligence and the ability to communicate fluently in written English?
I assume most Nigerian businessmen are able to read and write their own language.

And if there's a Fagin mastermind running this scam, why doesn't he write the letter for his underlings to send?

Last edited by Little Nemo; 01-26-2011 at 05:25 PM.
  #23  
Old 01-26-2011, 05:31 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by Freddy the Pig View Post
Without seeing your e-mail in full, it's impossible to say for sure. But in many scam e-mails, the sender doesn't pose as a person managing a sophisticated international check fraud; he or she poses as an honest simpleton, unsophisticated in the ways of finance and perhaps new to inherited wealth, who needs help from a stranger. Of course such a person wouldn't be fluent in English.

The mark can plausibly believe that he can take advantage of such a person, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for a few hours of work.
You should complain you didn't get your copy. This guy apparently spammed a whole bunch of us here this afternoon.

Here's what he sent:
Quote:
Dear Friend,

I am Mr Daniel Sanuho, the Director incharge of Auditing and accounting department Bank of Africa. Am contacting you for an urgent beneficial transaction, I have the opportunity of transferring Fifteen ( $5.6m) from an account that belong to one of our late customer from the Lebanoon who died long ago in Plan crash.I want to inquire from you if you can handle this transaction for mutual benefits/life opportunity for you and me.

The Fund is currently in a suspense account awaiting claim, the bank made a public notice that they are ready to release this fund to any of his relatives abroad. THEREFORE, by virtue of its nature as being utterly CONFIDENTIAL, top secret should be maintained please!,because i am still in the active service i do not need any form of implication especially now i am in the verge of my retirement to endanger my carear at last!.Since we got the information about his death, we have been expecting his next of kin to come over and claim his money because we cannot release it unless some body applies for it as next of kin or relation to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines and laws.

In that regard, i decided to seek your consent for this prospective opportunity. Have it at the back of your mind, that the transaction does not involve any RISK, and does not need much engagement from you, since i am familiar with this kind of transaction being an insider.Necessary modalities will be worked out to enable us carry out the fund claim under a legitimate arrangement. I have resolved to offer you 40% of the total fund if only you will understand and follow up my instruction because it will only required a foriegn Account to transfer the fund, 10% for any expenses that may be incurred during the process of executing this transaction and 50% percent for me.

I will give you more details about the transaction when I receive your affirmative response, reply me at (email address deleted)

Thanks

Yours sincerely,
Mr. Daniel Sanuho
So this guy is claiming to be "the Director incharge of Auditing and accounting department Bank of Africa". Does this letter in any way look like it was composed by a professional banker? Like I said above, I'd be shocked to get a letter this poorly written from an official at my bank.
  #24  
Old 01-26-2011, 05:36 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I assume most Nigerian businessmen are able to read and write their own language.
English is not the native language of most Nigerians, even if it is the national language.

From Wiki:


Quote:
Even though most ethnic groups prefer to communicate in their own languages, English, being the official language, is widely used for education, business transactions and for official purposes. English, however, remains an exclusive preserve of a small minority of the country's urban elite, and is not spoken in rural areas. With approximately 75% of Nigeria's populace in the rural areas, the major languages of communication in the country remain national languages, with the most widely spoken being Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
Even for the elite, English is not their birth language, but usually something taught in school.

Last edited by Colibri; 01-26-2011 at 05:37 PM.
  #25  
Old 01-26-2011, 05:37 PM
pravnik pravnik is offline
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Old thread explaining the stilted writing style of Nigerian scams (which I'm amazed I could find):

Do Nigerians really talk like that?
  #26  
Old 01-26-2011, 05:50 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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I'm not talking about a letter being written in an excessively formal fashion. I'm talking about a letter being written poorly.

A confidence scam is based on convincing the victim that the con-man is legit. He has to sell himself and make the victim believe the lie. So if a con-man is trying to convince you he's a banker, he's got to sound like a genuine banker.

Am I the only person who doesn't think a genuine Nigerian banker would write this poorly?
  #27  
Old 01-26-2011, 05:51 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Here's what he sent:So this guy is claiming to be "the Director incharge of Auditing and accounting department Bank of Africa". Does this letter in any way look like it was composed by a professional banker?
I've traveled quite a bit in Africa (including Nigeria), and while this particular letter is a bit extreme, it's not that far off how official correspondence can sometimes sound. As has been said, even for professionals English is not their native language - and much of their correspondence is with other Nigerians who also are not native speakers. What sounds like odd phrasing to us may simply be conventions for them. They are not going to see how bad it looks to us.

On the other side, the people who fall for these kinds of scams 1) may not have great English language skills themselves (although the well-educated are certainly not immune); or 2) don't expect people in third world countries, even professionals, to be that fluent in English.

Quote:
Like I said above, I'd be shocked to get a letter this poorly written from an official at my bank.
You might not be, if your bank account was in Lagos.
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Old 01-26-2011, 05:52 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Am I the only person who doesn't think a genuine Nigerian banker would write this poorly?
How many actual Nigerian bankers (or for that matter actual Nigerians) do you know?
  #29  
Old 01-26-2011, 05:57 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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So you feel that letter is reflective of the writing skills of a genuine Nigerian banker?
  #30  
Old 01-26-2011, 05:59 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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So you feel that letter is reflective of the writing skills of a genuine Nigerian banker?
That's not what I said.
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Old 01-26-2011, 06:01 PM
beartato beartato is offline
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Am I the only person who doesn't think a genuine Nigerian banker would write this poorly?
How many Americans and Canadians do you know that would write this poorly? There's a decent amount out there. Educated people are instantly going to see this as a scam, and the grammar and punctuation as ridiculous. Isn't that what you did? What about people who aren't that smart... and therefore probably the target of this scam?
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Old 01-26-2011, 06:17 PM
SmithCommaJohn SmithCommaJohn is offline
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So you feel that letter is reflective of the writing skills of a genuine Nigerian banker?
I don't know.

But that's not really relevant. Some people, perhaps those with limited education and exposure to the writings of highly educated individuals, might assume that the stiff, overwrought, and excessively formal writing style is just how "official" communications are written.

Yes, those scam emails are extremely poorly-written. But apparently, it's good enough to hook a very small percentage of recipients, and that's all it takes to make the scam profitable.
  #33  
Old 01-26-2011, 07:37 PM
Zamander Zamander is offline
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So you feel that letter is reflective of the writing skills of a genuine Nigerian banker?
Nemo, the point of these scams is not to persuade you or appear credible to you. Or to most people at that. It's just that if these people send enough emails, someone might and do take the bait. So I think your approaching this whole issue from the wrong direction. If everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone of millions and millions of receivers of these emails were as astute as you, the scammers would not continue trying it.

Last edited by Zamander; 01-26-2011 at 07:39 PM. Reason: Spelling, durn it!
  #34  
Old 01-26-2011, 07:54 PM
wmfellows wmfellows is offline
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That's kind of my point. How is a semi-literate who can't spell simple words or punctuate a sentence going to be able to manage a relatively sophisticated international check fraud?
Fluency in written English says fuck all about ability to manage sophisticated processes. I've known West African businessmen with atrocious French or English, but managed to keep logistics chains moving with stunning relative efficiency.

Quote:
This guy doesn't sound like he could manage to open a checking account. Criminals of that intellectual caliber usually stick to something simpler like mugging people or robbing convenience stores.
You're making a number of erroneous assumptions:
(i) That your standards of English mean something relative to Nigerian (it remains mostly Nigerian) culture and education
(ii) The perception of criminality.

In any case, your judgement is far off on this.

[QUOTE=Nametag;13398795]Two points: first, fluency in English does not correlate directly with intellectual attainment; nor does typing skill.[quote]

Quite.

Quote:
It's hardly necessary to compose these fraud emails in faultless English -- the victim is supposed to believe that the people perpetrating the schemes are stupid, greedy, and vain, and probably those that do fall for it are imagining that those "corrupt, backwards, Africans" can't write any better.

I don't think the errors are as such intentional, but the managers of the schemes do not see any real payoff in polishing the English versus mass production (as I note you noted):
Quote:
Besides, most of the scam stories are passed around, recycled, and mix'n'matched without proofreading -- the Nigerian scam industry works on volume, not quality. .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I assume most Nigerian businessmen are able to read and write their own language.
Their own language usually being Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo, not necessarily. Most write in English, of highly variable quality.

Quote:
And if there's a Fagin mastermind running this scam, why doesn't he write the letter for his underlings to send?
No. Why bother?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I'm not talking about a letter being written in an excessively formal fashion. I'm talking about a letter being written poorly.

A confidence scam is based on convincing the victim that the con-man is legit. He has to sell himself and make the victim believe the lie. So if a con-man is trying to convince you he's a banker, he's got to sound like a genuine banker.

Am I the only person who doesn't think a genuine Nigerian banker would write this poorly?
I've met genuine Nigerian bankers from the public sector whose writing in English was rather approximative unless effort was put into polishing.

As Colibri says, Nigerians use English extensively inter-ethnically, but it is Nigerianised.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
I've traveled quite a bit in Africa (including Nigeria), and while this particular letter is a bit extreme, it's not that far off how official correspondence can sometimes sound. As has been said, even for professionals English is not their native language - and much of their correspondence is with other Nigerians who also are not native speakers. What sounds like odd phrasing to us may simply be conventions for them. They are not going to see how bad it looks to us.
Right, for say a low-to mid level local banker even, there is not that much call on him to write non Nigerian style (or necessarily exposure).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
So you feel that letter is reflective of the writing skills of a genuine Nigerian banker?
Someone working in state service, yes. Or low level in a private bank.

Sure the highest levels are polished, but that drops off.
  #35  
Old 01-26-2011, 08:56 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Originally Posted by Freddy the Pig View Post
Without seeing your e-mail in full, it's impossible to say for sure. But in many scam e-mails, the sender doesn't pose as a person managing a sophisticated international check fraud; he or she poses as an honest simpleton, unsophisticated in the ways of finance and perhaps new to inherited wealth, who needs help from a stranger. Of course such a person wouldn't be fluent in English.

The mark can plausibly believe that he can take advantage of such a person, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for a few hours of work.
That's the only plausible explanation I've heard for the poor English in those emails - otherwise they'd just get someone who spoke English well to write one email and then copy it. That wouldn't be difficult.

The scammers want the email to sound like it's from someone who's come into money and had no means of accessing it without your help. They have to appear vulnerable, so that the recipient will both feel sorry for the sender and think that they don't have the nous to con them.

For the vulnerability part: If you saw someone begging and they were in a suit and speaking in a prestige accent, would you be more or less likely to drop them a quarter than the next bloke down in rags with a non-prestige accent?

For the not-gonna-con-me part: there's a reason most car salesmen don't speak in prestige accents.

Then you have to remember that you might be clever and worldly-wise enough to know that genuine Nigerian heirs and bankers have much better English than that (they do - I've known a few, and their English isn't always perfect but it's pretty good and they'd have someone check over important correspondence), but these email scams are not aimed at clever, worldly-wise people.

I've also seen at least one TV show which claimed that a lot of these scams weren't actually from Nigeria at all, but were organised by people in countures like the Netherlands where the main beneficiaries could definitely speak English very well. Can't find a cite for that, though.

TV shows are hard to search for; The One Show in the UK had a piece on people who were scammed, including an ordinary pensioner who, when she died, had 30,000 (no typo) letters in her house from people asking her for money, because she responded often enough to become a target for loads of them.
  #36  
Old 01-26-2011, 09:13 PM
qazwart qazwart is offline
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David Pogue has an interesting story about a particular victim of a Nigerian scam. It wasn't Pogue who got scammed, but the person who was suppose to be buying his house for cash. Sad, but interesting story.
  #37  
Old 01-26-2011, 09:33 PM
Princhester Princhester is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
So if a con-man is trying to convince you he's a banker, he's got to sound like a genuine banker.
The scam is aimed at the clueless. They may well not know what a genuine banker sounds like, any more than they know that a scheme that sounds too good to be true, usually is.
  #38  
Old 01-26-2011, 10:02 PM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Princhester View Post
The scam is aimed at the clueless. They may well not know what a genuine banker sounds like, any more than they know that a scheme that sounds too good to be true, usually is.
In the One Show episode that I mentioned but can't cite, one of the main victims had Alzheimer's, but it takes a while to diagnose and even longer to stop the poor bastards from having control over their own finances. Alzheimer's sufferers these days often have access to email too.

My step-nan sold my Grandad's war medals and his first wife's wedding and engagement rings for pennies - I mean literally pennies, an amount nobody in 2001 would have accepted, nobody in their right mind, that is. That shows to me that some vulnerable people can be conned no matter how crap the con is.

So the scammers don't have to try hard at all; they just need to be persistent until they hit the right mark.

But still, the reason they write like illiterates is because it makes the marks easier to find.
  #39  
Old 01-26-2011, 10:41 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Incidentally, because I've worked in Africa and my e-mail is floating around there I get every imaginable type of these letters. I've received letters in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and even Chinese. Most of them have exactly the same kind of deficiencies as the English versions.

The first Nigerian letter I received, back in the early 1990s, was a real paper letter. Back in the early days, I received them by fax as well.

It seems to me that the relative frequency of letters from bank officials or government functionaries has dropped a great deal from 10-15 years ago. Back then, almost every letter was like that. Then for a while most of them were from widows or daughters of some famous figure or general. (I've received a letter from the widow of Yasser Arafat, for example.) I also got letters from soldiers in Iraq who came upon a trove of Saddam's gold. Now it's much more frequent to receive letters from some widow or daughter of a merchant, or some poor person who has unexpectedly come into a legacy. I suspect the change is because the pose of naivete and ignorance is more credible coming from the latter.
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