Published on June 20th, 2012 | by James Johnson0
Nigerian Email Scams Sound Phony On Purpose, Study Finds
You have probably received dozens, possibly thousands of Nigerian email scams over the last decade and your first thought has likely been “they can’t be serious.” It turns out those scams are ridiculous on purpose.
According to a recent Microsoft researcher report the “Nigerian Scams” come right out and say they are from Nigeria and then make outrageous claims about millions of dollars being given away so they can find their way to the most truly gullible internet users.
Once scammers have received return emails they know their ideal target has been reached.
It turns out that the final process of collecting information and scamming people out of their hard earned money actually takes a lot of time and some cash on the part of the scammer, by getting rid of smart people they ensure a much smoother process.
Microsoft researcher Cormac Herley wrote in his findings:
“[I]f the goal is to maximize response to the email campaign it would seem that mentioning ‘Nigeria’ (a country that to many has become synonymous with scams) is counter-productive. One could hardly choose a worse place to claim to be from if the goal is to lure the unwary into email communication…
“Since gullibility is unobservable, the best strategy is to get those who possess this quality to self-identify. An email with tales of fabulous amounts of money and West African corruption will strike all but the most gullible as bizarre. It will be recognized and ignored by anyone who has been using the Internet long enough to have seen it several times. It will be figured out by anyone savvy enough to use a search engine and follow up on the auto-complete suggestions [of search engines]. It won’t be pursued by anyone who consults sensible family or fiends, or who reads any of the advice banks and money transfer agencies make available. Those who remain are the scammers ideal targets. They represent a tiny subset of the overall population.”
When I’m bored I like to lead on Nigerian scammers, in several cases I even gave them the address to the State’s attorney’s office so they would pay to overnight me Fedex documents to sign and send back with my social security number and $500 they expected for processing. In another incident I actually gave a fake Western Union number but told the fraudster I sent the money to a location 45 miles from their base of operations so they would drive out of their way.