Thursday, July 06, 2006

Is it Fair to Blame Nigeria for the World's Fraud Woes?

I recently read an article, where many Nigerians were upset about a series of stories done by CNN. The reason they were upset was because they felt that the story depicted that all Nigerians were corrupt. This made me reflect that there are many of out there - who when a fraud is discovered - seem to automatically classify it as being of "Nigerian" origin.

This evening, I came across a story from the Online Journal: "New version of Nigerian phishing e-mail scam promises jobs, riches, poker and great lunches" - which is essentially calling "phishing" a Nigerian scam. After reading it, I started to understand why Nigerians might find some of this offensive. To read the article: Click Here.

This inspired me to do a little digging.

Since I've done a little research on phishing, I decided to refer to the Anti Phishing Working Group and their most recent report (May), which coincidentally reported a "all-time" record of recorded "phishing attempts."

Nigeria isn't even listed in their "top-ten."

According to the APWG:

"In May, Websense Security Labs saw a continuation of the top three countries hosing phishing websites. The United States remains the on the top of the list with 34.1%. The rest of the top 10 breakdown is as follows: China 15%, Republic of Korea 8.17%, France 3.94%, Germany 3.38%, Japan 2.65%, Malaysia 2.59%, Canada 2.37%, Italy 2.02%, and Brazil 1.7%."

If the APWG is correct - then how could phishing be called a Nigerian scam?

Advance fee - which is also referred to as 419 - has taken on many forms and is a worldwide problem. A lot of it originates in Europe, Canada and even the United States. Lottery scams - which are one form - seem to be coming from Canada, or Great Britain and Romance scams from Eastern Europe are a huge issue.

Recently one of the bogus tools, used in advance fee scams have been counterfeit, or altered money orders. People are tricked into cashing these items and wiring the money back to a "fraudster." According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - they are being produced (the counterfeit items) in Eastern Europe and West Africa. So far as the altered items - they seem to be produced in the U.S. Prison System and are used primarily in Romance Scams.

I did mention West Africa - but only as one source - and Nigeria is only one of the countries in West Africa. So far as the "other sources," we can look to points of origin that aren't even anywhere near Nigeria, including the United States.

Interestingly enough, what many term as "Nigerian Fraud," wasn't invented in Nigeria and can be traced back to 1588 AD - what what is known as the "Spanish Prisoner Letter."

Another fact - which many of us - fail to "recognize" is that Nigeria is doing something about their problems with fraud. In fact, some might argue that they are pursuing it more "aggresively" than in many of the other countries mentioned in this post.

In recent years, Nigeria has led a very public campaign against corruption within Nigeria. President Olusegun Obasanjo formed the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has been extremely aggressive in fighting fraud in Nigeria. Recently, they were taken off a money laundering "blacklist" and for a list of stories - where they have made an impact - link, here.

There is little doubt that Nigeria realizes it has a fraud problem and that there are "good guys" over there fighting the "good fight."

They key to winning the war is for the "good guys" to work together and go after those who are bad.

So far as the rest of us - the next time we run across a scam on the Internet - perhaps we should take a deeper look at it's point of origin. Not only is it unfair to blame the world's fraud problem on Nigeria, but it confuses efforts to bring forth resolution.

4 comments:

Chxta said...

Hi, I am Chxta, Nigerian citizen. I must commend you for a job well done, I have gone through your entire blog, and I must say great work on this post.

I'd reproduce it on my own blog and hope the word spreads.

T.L. Stanley said...

Good post. I would like to say that it is not be fair to say the Nigerian citizens are all criminals. On the other hand, all of the e-mail schemes I get are from Nigerian sources.

So, this begs the question: Do the internet criminals use Nigerian addresses?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Thanks for the article. It was quite refreshing. I am happy to find someone who is actually viewing things from a rational perspective. We Nigerians are not the worst perpetrators of these crimes and we are recording a lot of success in fighting these corrupt people. It is a bad image for us. It takes people with insight like you to spread the word. The word is; Nigeria is NOT out to scam the world.

Anonymous said...

thanks, Dickson. EFCC and Nigeria appreciate the critical support of good people like you, out there.

Osita Nwajah
Head Media & Publicity
EFCC