419 Scams - The Real Scammers
The Motivation Behind 419 Scams Will the 419 Sanction Threat Work?
Monday, November 16, 2002
Moslem North not involved The Southern elite • The real reason
behind Nigerian scam letters
There has been some speculation in the western media about the destination of money acquired from 419 advanced fee scams. Among some of the wild theories put forward by some analysts is the terrorist connection. This is not only far-fetched but highly unlikely. The background and most importantly religion of the perpetrators make this connection improbable. At least in Nigeria.
Although this type of crime originated in Nigeria, it has now spread to many other countries in various forms but the objective remains the same - to relieve the victim of money without giving anything in return. Some of those operating from other African countries are identified as Nigerians because they carry Nigerian passports. It is not very difficult to obtain this document for the right 'fee'.
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Moslem North not involved
To explain the improbability of Nigerian 419 scammers funding terrorism I would go into the make up of the country. Nigeria has over 120 million inhabitants spread over 36 States and a Federal Capital Territory (Abuja). It has over 250 ethnic groups and about the same number of dialects. The three main tribes are Hausa/Fulani (Moslems) in the North, Igbo (Christians) in the Southeast and Yoruba (mainly Christians) in the Southwest.
The Hausa/Fulani Moslems of Northern Nigeria are largely backward economically, educationally, infrastructurally, industrially. Although there is universal free education in the country, they rarely complete elementary school and will more often than not send their children to Arabic schools to study the Koran instead. Most follow the strict Islamic code of Sharia that espouses amputation of limbs for stealing and the stoning of women to death for committing adultery. Women are subjugated and do not have the same rights as men.
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The Southern elite
In the South the picture is a stark opposite. The Igbos are the most educated in Nigeria and are known for their aggressive entrepreneurial endeavors. They bore the full brunt of the 1967-1970 Nigeria civil war when the entire southeast was raised to the ground by the Nigerian army. Within 8 years of the war ending everything was rebuilt and they continue to prosper. The Yorubas follow very closely behind the Igbos. They are mostly academicians and have excelled in various fields.
The majority of the 419 scammers come from the Southeastern/ Southwestern of Nigeria. It is very difficult to say precisely why. One theory is that the sheer complexity, audacity and 'intelligence' required to plan and execute this crime is way beyond the faculties of the illiterate Northerners.
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The real reason behind Nigerian scam letters
Poverty is not the reason why people indulge in 419 because a large percentage of them are already wealthy in their own right (not through 419). They employ people to scam for them while using their legitimate business as a front. Lower down the ladder, you get the newly qualified professionals who are caught up in the 'get rich quick syndrome' pervading southern Nigeria in current times. This group would rather wait for the maturity of one scam than work their way up the employment ladder.
Why do they do it, I hear you ask? Because the input is miniscule and the returns astronomical. If a scammer sends out 2000 letters or emails, with a response of 1% or lower, s/he has hit the JACKPOT!!! As long as some greedy individuals continue to respond, they will stay in business as they are always one step ahead of they law.
The money from these crimes finance mainly drug trafficking, mistresses, property, exotic cars. It is all about ostentation, ostentation and more ostentation. There is a story about one of them that had so many cars that his palatial mansion resembled a car dealership. His wife use to drive a car to color co-ordinate what she was wearing. If she drove a different car everyday it would take over six months to drive all the cars.
There certainly is no terrorist connection. The religion of the perpetrators make it highly improbable. Even if there were Northern Nigerian advanced fee fraudsters (which is doubtful), their fanaticism is not sophisticated. The typical Nigerian is too selfish for that kind of sponsorship.
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- Adaora, Editor, Fraud Aid.com Nigerian Desk
firstname.lastname@example.org, Attn: Adaora
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