The Motivation Behind 419 Scams

 

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Adaora ReportsNigeria; capitol: Abuja; location: West African coast.

Monday, November 25, 2002  

The Motivation Behind 419 Scams

Money. not color   Colonialists not to blame

A contradiction: Oil wealth, yet poor

Corrupt leaders: past and present

Lack of accountability

The North has ruled Nigeria for 36 out of 42 years of independence, be it military or democratic. There have today thousands of retired soldiers and their civilian accomplices sitting on billions of dollars stolen from public coffers.

Could the exclusivity of the south in the 419 fraud business be explained away as their way of getting back at the northerners for this? Obviously,  majority of the scammers could do without the funds generated from it. However, there is a strong need in them to get even richer and as the national cake remains as elusive as ever the money has to come from somewhere else. Anger (over how despite all his intelligence and sophistication the northerners remain the 'kingmakers') is the motivation. So, the drive to get a cut of a foreign cake through 419 is born, bringing the country's name into disrepute. Thereby, avenging the south on two fronts - make billions and discredit the nation in the process. This to the chagrin of successive leaders.

Money. not color

The 419 scam is not limited to the ones perpetrated on non-Nigerians. There is internal 419 too, this is a modified version of the international scam but it is an advanced fee fraud nevertheless. 

It is fact that foreigners have been abducted and killed in Nigeria, however, this has more to do with money than the color of their skin. In the cases involving oil workers, their Nigerian counterparts were among those kidnapped and in some cases killed. This was over compensation denied to landowners by oil companies for degrading their land. A Nigerian expatriate visiting the country stands as much chance of being robbed or killed as a white person. The only difference might be that in the case of the latter the skin color makes the individual more vulnerable. All the criminals see is or $ and not the color of the skin.  Majority of Nigerians are very warm and friendly and do not have a morbid hatred for white people due to historical reasons.

Colonialists not to blame.

Today as at the dawn of independence on 1 October 1960 Nigeria is plagued with political instability, corruption, fraud and embezzlement. Over the years Nigerian analysts have tried to lay the blame on the colonialists for the state of the country. However, that analysis is totally wrong and cannot be backed up. While it is fact that Britain - the colonial masters had stripped the country, they left good legacies too. Examples are clean and uninterrupted water and electricity supply. A fully trained and equipped Police Force and Army, the list goes on and on. Today what you see is just the opposite. For Nigeria there is little hope of change but this not due to lack of resources.

A contradiction: Oil wealth, yet poor

Nigeria is endowed with natural resources so vast that it would have made it a very beautiful country if only it had good governance to handle her natural endowment. Nigeria has oil reserves of over 22 billion barrels and there a lot more oil fields that are as yet untapped. It is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries (OPEC). In 2000 Nigeria was the 5th largest supplier of crude oil to the USA. The fact is that Nigeria is an oil rich but at the same time one of the worlds poorest countries. The million dollar question is, 'why so?'.

Corrupt leaders: past and present

The answer can be found in the activities of the country's past and present leaders. Corruption is socially embedded and there is no political accountability. Corruption and power abuse is one of the worst examples of Kleptocratic rule and Kleptocracy and corruption are synonymous with Nigerian governments since independence. Successive governments have used its resources to purchase support while increasingly repressing its opponents. The panel set up to examine government under the late General Abacha found that $12 billion in oil revenue had been embezzled into what was dubbed 'dedicated accounts'. To date the whereabouts of this money is unknown. This is just the tip of the iceberg as other leaders have been known to have helped themselves to much more.

Lack of accountability

With lack of adequate sanctions this state of affairs is set to continue. There is a linkage between corruption and poverty: it reduces the size of the economic cake, consequently condemning varying segments of the population to abject poverty.

 - Adaora, Editor, Fraud Aid.com Nigerian Desk

fraudaid@fraudaid.com, Attn: Adaora

 

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