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Submission + - How Absurd Pitches Help Online Scammers Find Their Marks (

Gunkerty Jeb writes: Do you find e-mail pleas for help from the Widow of late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha or Democratic Republic of the Congo strongman Mobutu Sese Seko unconvincing or downright silly? That may be the point, according to Microsoft researcher Cormac Herley.

The outlandish claims of Nigerian Letter Scams — or "419 scams" serve a critical purpose: they do a great job of separating the skeptics from the suckers, allowing the scammers to focus their energies on the latter group. That's the conclusion of a new paper published by Microsoft Research and scheduled to be presented on June 25th at the Workshop on the Economics of Information Security (WEIS) 2012 Conference in Berlin, Germany.

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How Absurd Pitches Help Online Scammers Find Their Marks

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"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much nearer the truth. -- Alfred North Whitehead