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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Don't Panic!: Is Nigeria finally cleaning up its crooked ways?

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In a move that threatens to make emptying your spam folder much less amusing, the Nigerian government recently launched a big crackdown on so-called "419" scammers.

The 419 scam, named for the section of the Nigerian legal code outlawing it, reportedly rakes in billions of dollars annually. It works thusly: You know those weird, obsequious, all-cap business proposal e-mails you delete (e.g. GREETINGS OF THE DAY TO YOU KIND SIR: I AM THE WIDOW OF FORMER ASSISTANT UNDERSECRETARY OF PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT PETER KUMBAYA-MYLORD-KUMBAYA AND IT IS MY GREAT PLEASURE TO WRITE TO YOU AND PRESENT MY BUSINESS PROPOSAL FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION)? It turns out lots of people actually believe the e-mails are real.

The 419 is an advance-fee scam, meaning "guy promises to send you $800,000 if you send him $1,000 to take care of the paperwork necessary to obtain the money."

But the 419 will forever be associated with Nigeria because it's the best-known Nigerian export: corruption.

Continue Reading "Don't Panic: Is Nigeria finally cleaning up its crooked ways?"

(Photo illustration by Andisheh Nouraee)

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