Friday, October 21, 2005

419 From the Other Side of the Fence

There is an interesting article by Robyn Dixon of the LA Times, who interviewed an allegedly former 419 (Advance fee fraud) scam artist named Samuel. He describes a murky world of cybercafes, where the Nigerian fraudsters congregate and send out the infamous e-mails. According to the article "they even have an anthem "I Go Chop Your Dollars," hugely popular in Lagos, which hit the airwaves a few months ago as a CD penned by an artist called Osofia:

"419 is just a game, you are the losers, we are the winners.

White people are greedy, I can say they are greedy White men, I will eat your dollars, will take your money and disappear.

419 is just a game, we are the masters, you are the losers."

For the video, click here.

Samuel goes on to describe the long lost riches and the dating scams, as well as the money some have made off these schemes. You can read the entire article by going to:

''I Will Eat Your Dollars''

The lyrics of this song might be offensive to some, but it is probably reality to many in Nigeria.

Quite simply, in Nigeria, 419 is a means to escape poverty. For years, foreign companies have made themselves and a "select" few Nigerians extremely rich (via vast oil reserves). Meanwhile the majority of the population lives in conditions that would make a "welfare recipient" in the West appear wealthy. In fact, the CIA estimates that 70 percent of the country lives in poverty, despite the fact that they are a member of OPEC and the eleventh largest producer of petroleum in the world.

To a Nigerian, their perception of these companies is probably just what the song states, or "greedy white men."

There is another headline that has been hitting the press about Microsoft and the Nigerian goverment working together to end scams. Neil Holloway (President Microsoft Europe) said "It's the first-ever agreement Microsoft has signed with an African country to aid law enforcement efforts. Microsoft's aid will include providing information to law enforcement in addition to training. The company has already been working with Nigerian authorities over the last three to six months. We think we have a responsibility to make an impact in this particular area."

Hopefully, the Microsoft Computer Security types have received additional training in self-defense, or have been augmented by other security types, preferably former special forces personnel. Here is the latest CIA Travel report: U.S. State Department's Travel Warning - Nigeria. My understanding is that the oil companies, who have billions invested in Nigeria, have a large budget for security there.

The Nigerian government has also made numerous headlines lately in it's battle against 419. Numerous arrests have been made and money has even been returned to victims. After years of bad press (a lot of it from 419), they do seem to be trying to take measures to improve their image in the world.

Still, the majority of the people live in standards that we couldn't even imagine in the West. I fear, if this problem (which is probably the cause) is allowed to continue, there will always be a steady stream of willing recruits into this seedy business.

Unfortunately, these actions by the Nigerian government and Microsoft only address the suffering created in the West by 419.

If we really want to address the problem of 419 in Nigeria, we probably should take a look putting pressure on the government over there to provide a better standard of living for their people. I would challenge all the foreign companies doing business in Nigeria (particularly from the petroleum industry) to take this to heart.

Microsoft is a newcomer in Nigeria and there is no doubt they are doing a lot of charitable work around the world. I salute them in their efforts and hope their partnership with the Government of Nigeria reduces the amount of suffering created by 419. I would hope that Microsoft and (others) also take the time to address the reason that 419 is a means of escape for many young Nigerian's, like Samuel.

It would be sad that if in the end, they "too" were perceived as "greedy white men."

If anyone is interested in a Nigerian view of corruption in Nigeria, click on the title of this post.

For some of the bad press on the internet regarding 419, here are some sites courtesy of the 419 Coalition (US) :
419 Fraud (US)
419 Legal (South Africa)
African Anti-Fraud Control Agency (AAFA) (Norway) (Norway)
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) (US)
Anti African Scam Commission
Artists Against 419 (US)
Australian Institute of Criminology
Avant Solutions Inc. (US) (US)
Bart De Wolf's Site (El Salvador)
Brian Wizard Inc. - 419 Novel Available Now - (US) (US)
California Society of Certified Public Accountants (US)
Canadian Council of Better Business Bureaus
Classic Car Fair (New Zealand) (US)
Consumer Protection Association of America
Crimes of Persuasion (US)
Data Wales (Wales, UK)
Delaware Scam Victims (US)
eBay Scamkillers (US)
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) (Nigeria) (Nigeria)
Email Scams and Frauds (Dr. Robert J. O'Hara's site) (US)
Fighting back at Nigerian 419 Advance Fee Fraud Scammers (UK)
Financial Scandals Website (UK)
Forensic Services SA (South Africa)
FraudAid (US)
Freeman Institute (US)
G2 (US)
Globrocks Information Systems (US) (US)
I Need a Trustworthy and Honest Business Partner (Denmark)
Idaho Department of Finance (US)
InterGOV (US)
International Investigation Services (IIS) (Iceland)
Internet Crime Prevention and Control Institute (US)
Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) (US)
Internet Scambusters E-Zine (US)
Involution.Org (US)
Lads Of Lagos (US)
London Metropolitan Police (UK)
Loss Prevention Concepts Ltd. (US)
Ministry of Fair Trading, Government of Western Australia
Money From Africa Letter Collection (Poland)
Monitor das Fraudes (Brazil-Portuguese Language)
Monks of Adoration (US)
Motherland Nigeria (US)
Mr. Ugo Watt's Scam Baiter Pages (UK)
National Association of Credit Management (NACM) (US)
National Criminal Intelligence Service (UK)
National Fraud Information Center - Internet Fraud Watch (US)
Nigeria 419 Scam (US)
Nigeria Master Web (Nigeria)
Nigeria Scam Alert (US)
Nigerian Business Proposal (.com) (US)
Nigerian Fraud Email Gallery (US) (US)
Nigerian Letters (Australia)
Nigeria Master Web (Nigeria)
Nigerian Nightmare (US)
Nigerian Scams (WONST) (US)
Nigerian (India)
Offshore Finance Canada Magazine/Ezine (Canada)
PeaceProject (US)
Pennsylvania Attorney General (US)
Phonebusters (Canada)
Policia Judiciaria (Portugal-Portuguese language)
Poppage1 Site (Canada-India) (US)
Quatloos! (US) (Brazil-Portuguese Language)
Regulatory Intelligence Agency (RIA) (Vanuatu)
Romance Scam 419 Yahoo Group (US)
RCMP/GRC Royal Canadian Mounted Police (English & French language) (US) (UK)
Scam o Rama (US) (US)
ScamWatch (US)
Scam Victims United (US)
Scott Bidstrup Site - Onsite Personal Viewpoint on Nigeria (US) (Sierra Leone)
Silicon Valley Business Law (Law Offices of Thomas Gross) (US) Urban Legends Reference Pages (US)
South African Police Service (South Africa)
Southwest Georgia Com (SOWEGA.COM) (US)
Spam, Scams and Hoaxes (US) (US)
Stop 419s (UK)
StorOslo Sikkerhetstjeneste AS (Norway)
Svensk 419/Nigeriabrev-site (Sweden-Swedish Language)
The Big Scam (Sweden)
The Internet Project (TIP) (Australia)
The Nigerian Scam Buster
The Nigerian Muse (Dr. Mobolaji Aluko) (US & Nigeria) (US)
United Nigeria Association Tulsa (UNAT) (US)
United States Department of Commerce International Trade Administration
United States Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs
United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement
United States Department of the Treasury FinCEN
United States Embassy Nigeria
United States Federal Bureau of Investigation
United States Federal Trade Commision
United States National Archives and Records Administration
United States Postal Service
United States Secret Service
United States Senator Russ Feingold
Venture Research Institute (US)
Virginia Attorney General
War On Spam (US)
Waruno Mahdi's Website (Germany)
Web Police (US) (US) (UK)


EKENYERENGOZI Michael Chima said...

this your article would be better appreciated as a rejoinder to to the newspaper report I read earlier today.

Again, send a copy to Rebecca MacKinnon, who is a
Research Fellow, Berkman Ctr. for Internet & Society
"The world is talking. Are you listening?"

I also invite you to join our network Global Voices On Line.

Ayannali said...

I have seen alot of fraud coming out of Nigeria.

This is good information to have.

I have linked this site to my blog and also fowarded it to some of my friends at work

John said...

Hi Ted,

This was just the pits, great work and what a coincidence, I was planning to publish about the same interview on my blog, instead I will write a review on yours and refer people to it.

Thanks again John