Monday, January 23, 2012

The Nigerian Scam: the 419

We have all heard of it by now. You get a letter from a long-lost relative and he promises you $100 million dollars if you can get him $1,000. Of course this sounds too good to be true, but every year thousands lose millions on this simple scam. It is called Advance-fee fraud, and it is prevalent around the world. The most fascinating part is another group has become the Enforcers for this fraud, the 419 Eater. The name 419 came from the Nigerian Criminal code related to this offense.

One of the funniest hours of radio I ever listened to is one of the stories from these so-called vigilanties that was told through actual audio recordings to Ira Glass. Listen to Act 1. You will really enjoy it.
Three guys who go by the names Professor So and So, Jojobean and YeaWhatever spend part of each day running elaborate cons on Internet scammers. They consider themselves enforcers of justice, even after they send a man 1400 miles from home, to the least safe place they can bait him: The border of Darfur. The three self-made enforcers tell Ira their story. For more on what they did, along with photos, maps and phone recordings, go here

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