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419 Emails From A Cultural Perspective 463

dasboy writes "The LA Times has an article entitled I Will Eat Your Dollars about Nigerian 419 scammers that presents some of the cultural basis for the crime. They follow some young men in Lagos who toil over computers all-day and long into the night to snag a new victim. They even have a fight song entitled 'I Go Chop Your Dollars.'" From the article: "Scammers, he said, 'have the belief that white men are stupid and greedy. They say the American guy has a good life. There's this belief that for every dollar they lose, the American government will pay them back in some way.' What makes the scams so tempting for the targets is that they promise a tantalizing escape from the mundane disappointments of life. The scams offer fabulous riches or the love of your life, but first the magha has to send a series of escalating fees and payments. In a dating scam, for instance, the fraudsters send pictures taken from modeling websites."
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419 Emails From A Cultural Perspective

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  • by geomon ( 78680 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:08PM (#13845119) Homepage Journal
    Then it probably is. An email from a young, great looking, hard bodied male/female who is rich and has gobs of cash to spend on *you* is probably NOT for real.

    More likely is that you will find someone who has your same interests and general income level, whom you will start a relationship with and then waver in and out of interest with.

    That's real life.

    Of course I still buy an occasional lottery ticket.
    • by antonyb ( 913324 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:11PM (#13845156)
      More likely is that you will find someone who has your same interests and general income level, whom you will start a relationship with and then waver in and out of interest with.

      Nothing like aiming high, huh?

      • by geomon ( 78680 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:18PM (#13845224) Homepage Journal
        Nothing like aiming high, huh?

        Its called 'human nature'.

        Some of the friends I went to college with had plenty of money and great looking girl friends of the type most geeks and social outcasts would worship for their stunning beauty. My more-well-off friends would meet these women and be infatuated with them. Several months would go by and they would be oogling another beauty across the courtyard.

        The same is true for my geek friends. They had girl friends who were not stunning, but attractive and smart. They would have been a great companion for anyone. The geek friend would also be infatuated for a few months and then suddenly would be eyeballing another woman in the computer lab.
    • > That's real life.

      Indeed. Real life is that the nigerian scammers are criminals, and deserve to be locked up and/or shot. Not looked at as some kind of cultural escapism that is the necessary end result of a boring life. Get them up off their asses and not indulging in criminality, or jail them. No other options should be considered.
      • by schon ( 31600 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:45PM (#13845460)
        scammers are criminals, and deserve to be locked up and/or shot. Not looked at as some kind of cultural escapism that is the necessary end result of a boring life.

        Exactly. This whole article seems to be nothing more than sociopathic guilt transference - they know what they're doing hurts other people, so they come up with excuses about their victims in an attempt to mask their guilt.

        I'm surprised they didn't use the phrase "everybody does it".
        • by xappax ( 876447 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:23PM (#13845850)
          I don't think anyone (except them) would claim that their excuses are a fair justification for stealing from gullible, often not-so wealthy americans, but that doesn't mean we should ignore them.

          Understanding the social and economic context that this sort of crime takes place in is important, especially if we want to combat it. Poverty and lack of education, while certainly not justifications for crime, are often part of the cause.

          Much like muslim terrorists, I think it's always better to have an understanding of what's going on with the people who try to screw us over so hard, instead of just imagining them as mustachio twirling villains who are out to get us because, well, they're the bad guys.
          • Understanding the social and economic context that this sort of crime takes place in is important, especially if we want to combat it.

            While true, it doesn't really help if all you're doing is navel-gazing. Case in point:

            Poverty and lack of education, while certainly not justifications for crime, are often part of the cause.

            This is true for most crimes (not all of course - some are committed by the rich and priveliged) so it's really nothing new. Constantly bringing it up is just over-analyzing the proble
          • Re:Bad Guys (Score:5, Insightful)

            by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:59PM (#13846179)
            Much like muslim terrorists, I think it's always better to have an understanding of what's going on with the people who try to screw us over so hard, instead of just imagining them as mustachio twirling villains who are out to get us because, well, they're the bad guys.

            That is the most insightful thing I have seen in a while and totally agree...

            Like the UK Transit bombings when someone says "Maybe they bombed us because we have troops in Iraq?" they get shouted down as providing excuses for the Terrorists, but the fact of the matter is that people just don't wake up one morning and say "Well I am going to blow myself up today for no good reason!"

            Whatever reason they may have is actually important to the situation, but I stress it is not excusable to go and murder, steal, and scam people, but if you want to defeat the enemy you must know their motives.

            It is how the detective and intelligence catches these criminal... To psychologically understand who this person maybe and also recognize signs of another possible criminal.

            And it irks me to no end when I see police or soldiers refer to the enemy as "the bad guys" with no respect to understanding why they do the things they do. Sure it is there job to kill or apprehend the criminal/enemy, but these people are doing it for reasons that may seem justified in their own eyes.

            If you sit back and recognize these justification you might have a better chance of avoiding and preventing being scammed, assaulted, or surviving the attach when it happens.

            As Sun Tzu said "Know thyself, know thy enemy and win the battle every time.". (paraphrased)
            • Re:Bad Guys (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:36PM (#13846475) Homepage
              Whatever reason they may have is actually important to the situation, but I stress it is not excusable to go and murder, steal, and scam people, but if you want to defeat the enemy you must know their motives.

              The problem is many people don't understand the difference between an explanation (why something happened) and an excuse (why what happened is okay).

              This has led to the belief that understanding terrorists is the same as excusing the terrorists.

              This has led to us not understanding the terrorists, and thus being ineffective at fighting them.

              I have a real problem with any life view that makes failing to solve problems a requisite outcome.
            • Free will to blame (Score:3, Insightful)

              by spun ( 1352 ) *
              People don't like to acknowledge these kinds of arguments because they seem to say that people are influenced by their environment, instead of acting with perfect free will, where every decision comes entirely from the individual will and is unaffected by reality.

              If this kind of argument was true, then maybe there is no real merit in making good decisions. You didn't make the right decisions because you are good, smart and hard working, you made those decisions because of circumstances beyond your control.
            • Re:Bad Guys (Score:3, Interesting)

              by PsiPsiStar ( 95676 )
              As Sun Tzu said "Know thyself, know thy enemy and win the battle every time.". (paraphrased)

              Sun Tzu was giving advice to generals, not soldiers. He also emphasized that in battle, fleeing should not be viewed by one's troops as a possibility. You fight close to home or with your back to a mountain, and your strength will be doubled. In ancient warfare, most casualties occurred during a willy nilly retreat rather than actual battle.

              To put it another way, one strategy in a game of 'chicken' is to throw your s
        • by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @03:46PM (#13847084) Journal
          One of the first things you must do to hurt strangers is to dehumanize them, war propaganda is a classic example of this. Anti-abortionists portray pro-choice folks as "baby murderers", Muslim extremists portray all Westerners as "immoral perverted satanists", Iraqi insurgents are all "freedom hating terrorists", etc. Serial killers are notorious for referring to their victims as "things".

          These conmen in Nigeria can work without bothering their consciences by just dismissing Americans as gullible and rich fools who deserve to be ripped off. Maybe if they saw how real the damage was that they inflicted on the desperate some of them might think twice. The ones without consciences, lock 'em up.
      • The scammers are making decisions that will benefit them while damaging the lives of people who lack the intelligence or information necessary to avoid having their money taken from them.

        Now replace the word 'scammer' with the word 'corporation', or even 'politician'. Those new sentences might not always hold true, but you can't tell me you'd be suprised to read either of them and hear that the end result was a resignation or a slap on the wrist.
    • young, great looking, hard bodied male/female who is rich and has gobs of cash to spend on *you* is probably NOT for real.

      Boy, you must have a low opinion of the people who frequent this place!

      I got an email like that just yesterday! She was hot, she was great-looking, and she wanted to spend gobs of cash on ME. Of course, she's my wife, I provide the "gobs of cash", and we're going on a trip to the coast leaving tonight, but...

      Whatever. It can happen. I mean it. Slashdotters, don't let disparaging slobs l
      • Whatever. It can happen. I mean it. Slashdotters, don't let disparaging slobs like the parent get you down! Cool, good-looking geek-chics ARE out there!

        This message was brought to you by the 419 Industry Consortium.
  • Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by lucabrasi999 ( 585141 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:09PM (#13845130) Journal
    They say the American guy has a good life.

    Walk a mile in my shoes, buddy. You'll find out it ain't all peachs 'n cream.

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hogwash McFly ( 678207 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:13PM (#13845169)
      And your shoes find out what it's like to walk a mile...
    • Re:Really? (Score:3, Funny)

      by mrchaotica ( 681592 )
      I should hope not! Walking a mile through peaches and cream would suck!
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

      by cyber0ne ( 640846 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:15PM (#13845187) Homepage
      Walk a mile in my shoes, buddy. You'll find out it ain't all peachs 'n cream.

      A friend of mine from another country once said he felt sorry for me because I have Bush as a president. I responded, "Me? Hell, I feel sorry for you. At least I'm not subject to his foreign policy."
    • That's true. I'd be really pissed too if someone took my shoes.
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:18PM (#13845229) Homepage Journal
      Foo: They say the American guy has a good life.

      Bar: Walk a mile in my shoes, buddy. You'll find out it ain't all peachs 'n cream.

      Yeah. You've got it bad, here in America (I assume) with "the run-down, teeming streets, the grimy buildings, the broken refrigerators stacked outside, the strings of wet washing. It's the kind of place where plainclothes police prowl the streets extorting bribes, where mobs burn thieves to death for stealing a cellphone, and where some people paint "This House Is Not For Sale" in big letters on their homes, in case someone posing as the owner tries to put it on the market."

      Oh, my bad. That's the description (from the FA) of the conditions of the folks who you're asking to "walk in your shoes". There's no way anyone from the US, Canada, or Europe (including myself) could even concieve of what it's like to live in such conditions with no way out.

      Wrong is wrong, and the young man profiled in the article has more guts than most to see that and turn his back on it. But to completely ignore the factors behind the bad behavior is counterproductive at best. "Root causes" (of crime, poverty, terrorism, etc) may be overrated, but it's hard to defeat an enemy if you don't know his motivation.

      Or maybe Slashdot dropped the [sarcasm] tag from your post...
      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

        by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr&mac,com> on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:30PM (#13845339) Journal
        You've got it bad, here in America (I assume) with "the run-down, teeming streets, the grimy buildings, the broken refrigerators stacked outside, the strings of wet washing.

        Have you ever been to West Virginia?

        -jcr
        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Anonymous Meoward ( 665631 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:19PM (#13845815)

          Have you ever been to West Virginia?

          You mean the state with the motto "Thank God for Mississippi" ?

      • what it's like to live in such conditions with no way out.

        You mentioned a way for them to build a better life yourself! Sell someone's house while they're still in it. I never liked my current neighbors much, anyway. brb
      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:48PM (#13845512)
        But the scammers aren't the poor people living in those conditions! On the contrary, they're the rich and educated Nigerians -- if they weren't, they wouldn't have the knowledge and resources to perpetrate the scams (e.g. speaking English and having enough money for Internet access). See Section 5 of this [419eater.com] for details.
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Viper Daimao ( 911947 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:26PM (#13845305) Journal
      Walk a mile in my shoes, buddy. You'll find out it ain't all peachs 'n cream.

      Doubtful. You most likely have a personal computer that you can call your own, or perhaps your family's. You probably eat well, have a closet full of clothes to choose from, get a free education (high school), or pay(have payed for) for a good quality education if you're in college. Chances are that you own your own car, or can use on of your families cars. Given the current US unemployment percentage (5.1%) you most likely have a job. You spend your free time on niche news websites such as slashdot. I could go on, but the point is, you (and I also fit into all of those above claims), that we have a good life compared to most the rest of the world, regardless of where we fit in on the American class system.

      Now, that all being said, it is in no way an excuse for these immoral scams. Stealing is wrong no matter what and these people prey on the old and poor who are ticked into this scam. What they do is unexcusable, and their reasoning offered in the article is just that, excuses for behavoir they know is wrong.
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

      by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:37PM (#13845383)
      You'll find out it ain't all peachs 'n cream.

      Not at all. Wednesday is Spaghetti Day!

    • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 )
      "Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you'll be a mile away, and you'll have his shoes."

      I don't know who said it, but it's the first thing I think of these days when people talk about walking a mile in someone else's shoes.

      Anyhow, for the people criticizing this guy for whining, remember that this is the whole point of the "walk a mile..." saying. Everyone's life is filled with trouble. That's what life is. Some may have it better, and some may have

  • gasp! (Score:5, Funny)

    by hometoast ( 114833 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:11PM (#13845153)
    I demand that King Neferspamstu cease and desist using my modeling photos for financial gain. I do not waive my rights under the DMCA.
  • Delusions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hrodvitnir ( 101283 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:11PM (#13845155)
    "the American guy has a good life. There's this belief that for every dollar they lose, the American government will pay them back in some way."

    This is not a new thinking. Many crooks try to justify what they are doing by making it seem that they are not hurting anyone, at least not as much as they are.
    • I believe that many burglars rationalise their crimes by believing that insurers will pay. Same logic. They forget that some people have problems affording adequate insurance (premiums may increase anyway) and it is always a hassle to claim. The burglar forgets that, and especially the effect on an individual.

      The thing with the 419 is that the victim is being 'tricked' into an illegal act, technically, money laundering. Sometimes the victim isn't even really aware of the illegality, but they believe they

      • The thing with the 419 is that the victim is being 'tricked' into an illegal act, technically, money laundering. Sometimes the victim isn't even really aware of the illegality, but they believe they are actually helping someone.

        Which ones have you been getting? It's pretty clear from the ones I've seen that they're soliciting participation in something under-the-table. Usually they promise a substantial cut if you'll assist them in a plainly illegal transfer of money out of their country, but only after yo

    • Many crooks try to justify what they are doing by making it seem that they are not hurting anyone, at least not as much as they are.

      WMD! Freedom! =)

      Seriously though, nobody thinks they're the bad guy. I remember reading a Terry Pratchett book, where this ruler said "I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people. You're wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides."

    • Re:Delusions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chosen Reject ( 842143 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:07PM (#13845705)
      Sounds like a lot of arguments we hear about the legitamacy of pirating. "They make so much money anyway," "Yeah but they screw over the artists," "It's all crap that I wouldn't have bought anyway," etc.
  • Greed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tekn0lust ( 725750 ) * on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:12PM (#13845159) Homepage
    I would have to agree that the anonymous American is a greedy fool.

    Where else do you see people react to being in an accident like they won the lottery? Be it medical, car, workplace. Get hurt and bingo, how can I get paid.

    Tough to admit, but deep down everyone has some greed. Greed is a survival trait. Greed doesn't apply only to money, but to status, acceptance, and a miriad other indicators be them material or immaterial.

    Most scams rely heavily on the scamee forgoing rational thought to bite the lure. Nothing clouds judgement like a big payday or a supermodel.

    American's are in for a rough ride when China becomes the next superpower and greed is a major reason why.

    --signed "A greedy American"

    • Re:Greed (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gowen ( 141411 )
      Despite the obvious demerits of these fairly crass generalisations, the simple fact is there must be a fairly sizeable chunk of westerners who are initially gullible, stupid enough to trust an anonymous Nigerian emailer and extremely greedy, or these scams would have died out years ago.

      But, hey, if I wanted to castigate the moral fibre of certain sections of American life, I'd draw attention to the sort of moron who throws parties outside jails whenever there's an execution...
    • -- my high-school Economics teacher
    • Re:Greed (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kidgenius ( 704962 )
      Yes, the americans may be greedy. But what about the greed of the individuals that are performing these scams? Why is American greed seen as "bad", but these Nigerian's greed can be justified?
      • Why is American greed seen as "bad", but these Nigerian's greed can be justified?

        Nowhere in the grandparent's post was there any indication that the Nigerian's actions are justified. He was just focusing on the reasons and motives behind the victims. Who says both sides can't be greedy?

        Oh wait, I forgot that I'm posting on Slashdot (a.k.a. Binaryworld).

      • Who, other than the scammers, says it is justified?
      • I think the difference is that the scammers have a somewhat accurate idea of what they will get. The dupes are apparently so blinded by greed that they are unable to use simple logic to determine what is going to happen.

        Then again, it seems likely that a lot of scammers work real hard for no return, thinking they are going to rip off a rich american, perhaps hearing all kinds of stories about how somebody else got rich by running such a scam. They may even be taken in by other scammers who promise technical
    • "Where else do you see people react to being in an accident like they won the lottery? Be it medical, car, workplace. Get hurt and bingo, how can I get paid."

      I can think of a few countries where some people are greedy enough to scam foriegners out of thousands of dollars.

      Seriously, greed is human nature. The scammers are greedy, too. They're after a lot of money.
  • by hcob$ ( 766699 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:13PM (#13845167)
    Only greedy people fall for the "I have $18346205826.54 US, and I need someone to help me get it out of the country." So, how can you feel truly sorry for someone who is attempting to commit a crime and gets scammed out of his money?
    • It's the oldest wisdom in the con business.

      The best cons work take advantage of people who believe they are already cheating someone or doing something illegal/unethical.

      You cannot be tempted to do anything you wouldn't do anyway.
  • by mattyohe ( 517995 ) <matt@yohe.gmail@com> on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:13PM (#13845171)
    http://www.419eater.com/ [419eater.com]
     
    An informational website that helps you scam the scammers.
  • by RobotWisdom ( 25776 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:14PM (#13845175) Homepage
    Quicktime [antville.org]

    The lyrics there are helpful because the accent is hard to understand.

  • by GGardner ( 97375 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:14PM (#13845180)
    I'm sure that the scammers have tuned their art extensively, and know a thing or two about the human psyche. However, I always wondered why they promised such huge payoffs. If someone offers me $100 million dollars in easy money, all my scam detectors go off at once. On the other hand, if someone asked me to do that same thing for $20, I would probably be more willing to go along with it.
    • It's like the article said. People, and specifically the people who fall for these things are idiots. Black, or white. Rich, or poor. However nasty and bad they are, these scammer do know their targets, and that's what explains their success.
    • "if someone asked me to do that same thing for $20, I would probably be more willing to go along with it."

      But how much money would you be willing to part with in order to earn $20? Scammers don't need a lot of people to fall for their scam, they just need a couple people who think it makes sense to send a few thousand dollars so they can get millions back.
    • Once they get a dupe, they want to milk him for as much as possible. If you fell for the $20 scam, it seems unlikely they would be able to extract more than $20 from you before you realized that something was wrong and quit sending money. But if you fall for the $10 million scam, they may be able to extract tens of thousands of dollars before you realize something is wrong.

      So as long as the number of people who will be duped falls slower than 1/dollars, they have an incentive to make the amount as high as p
  • Cultural greed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:14PM (#13845185) Homepage Journal
    We have a lot of cultural greed in North America, so its understandable how some other cultures would perceive us as greedy. It's too bad they don't realize that the people they scammed do not get paid back for the money they lose.

    If I were stuck in a 3rd world country with corrupt governments and no legitimate way to feed myself, I'd be tempted to turn to scamming "rich" people too. And in North America, the middle class is rich compared to most of the world's population. In Canada it would take about 5 Earths* to sustain our current level of consumption. [*source: The Nature of Things from a few days ago.]
    • The scammers are at least as greedy, probably far more greedy than those they are scamming. Their comparitively lesser wealth is an excuse to try and justify it to themselves and others as ok, not a legit reason. I would also be willing to bet that the scammers are not the ultra-poor in Nigera, they are at least moderatly well off by Nigerian standards. That doesn't mean they are well-off by US standards, but still.

      All this talk about American greed and reimbursment is just the greedy scammers trying to con
  • Advance_fee_fraud (Score:2, Informative)

    by distantbody ( 852269 )
    "This type of scam, originally known as the "Spanish Prisoner Letter" [2], has been carried out since at least the sixteenth century via ordinary postal mail.">>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_fee_f raud
  • Scammers, he said, 'have the belief that white men are stupid and greedy.

    I think scammers give us lots of evidence of their own stupidity and greed. Some of my greatest laughs come from reading over their mail (it comes about once a week right now):

    ...I am compensating you with 10% of the total money Amount, now all my hope is banked on you and I really wants to invest this money in your country, were their is stabilities of Government, political and economic welfare. Honestly I want you to believe that

  • by dslauson ( 914147 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:23PM (#13845284) Journal
    You can only lean on cultural relativism so much.

    What I mean is, regardless of the culture you were raised in and the social climate of your environment, at some point, wrong is wrong is wrong.

    In this category, I would put anything that infringes on the rights of other human beings, including murder, assault, and, yes, simple theft.

    Justify it all you want. Yes, the people who fall for it are often greedy and stupid, but that doesn't make the act of the perpitrators any less wrong.
    • Give me a break. No one is trying to say, "Oh, in this scammer's culture, it's okay, so we have to say it's okay too or we are being racist culturally insensative pricks." The name 419 comes from the Nigerian criminal code, so it's illegal over their, too.

      Now, in a world of limited resource, one might say, well, the fact that Americans use more than their fair share means that Nigerians have less to go around, so Americans are impinging on Nigerians rights by being greedy resource hogs. If we didn't initiat
    • Nobody's justifying anything. You're making the common conservative error of mistaking an effort to understand a thing as an attempt to condone it. Righteousness and moral indignation have their place, but if you want to really understand why people behave the way they do, sometimes you just have to let it rest for a little while. There's a lot of good children's literature for those who require a moral lesson with every story.
  • by labratuk ( 204918 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:25PM (#13845295)
    But they do make great penpals. Like the guy in my sig, for instance.
  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:26PM (#13845301)
    Aren't these scams just what "social justice" is supposed to be -- stealing from people because INSERT JUSTIFICATION HERE ?

    Justifications:

    - It's their fair share.
    - They did XYZ THING in the past
    - Their ancestors did XYZ THING in the distant past
    - They have a different skin color than me
    - They have a different religion than me
    - They can afford it
    - Etc.

    The justifications aren't really relevant, BTW. They're just flavor. People steal/tax/defraud/embezzle/con because they want the money and because they can.
    • Let me pose a question. Someone sells you a bike for $10. Later that day, someone else proves to you that they own the bike and that it was stolen from them. Do you give the bike back to the rightful owner? If you refuse, and he takes it back, is he stealing?

      Now, assume that all land was originally unowned by anyone. Then it was held in common. No man owned it, but the whole tribe used it. Then someone develops the notion of private property. They put up a fence and use force to keep out the orginal users o
      • Yeah, see this one

        "- It's their fair share."

        You just did it. You tried to justify one wrong by referring to another.

        The problem is, I completely reject your concept that

        "the entire system of private property is based on theft and unfair advantage."

        Primarily, how can it be theft if (as you claim) NO ONE owned it? What you fail to consider is that some people have doen MORE than their fair share to protect their exclusive use of these resources. They found them, developed them, exploited and, most importan
      • How does this system benefit the common person?

        It produces a stable, well-defined system where "the common person" can work hard, save, and have a good life for himself and his family.

        In societies based on corruption and theft, the common man can't save, only the strong man. The strong man steals the savings of the common man and adds it to his own.

        Why should they buy into and support such a system?

        They should look at the results. Free-market, low-corruption, private-property societies work. And they wor
  • by Jonnty ( 910561 ) <(jonnty) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:27PM (#13845307) Homepage
    Kovacsics said victims can't believe that a scammer would spend months of internet chat just to net $700 or $1,000, not realizing that is big money in Nigeria and fraudsters will have many scams running at the same time. If you take that attitude, not realising money is actually worth something, I think it'd be pretty inevitable people thinking you are "greedy."
  • Dating fraud (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Safe Sex Goddess ( 910415 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:27PM (#13845310) Homepage Journal
    Dating fraud isn't new. I saw an episode of the History Detectives where they tracked down some photographs to a scam mail order bride company in Chicago during the late 1800's [pbs.org].

    The truth is people don't have time to investigate every purchase or offer they're made. And often the more desperate someone is the more eager they are to grasp at straws that purport to offer a way out of their desperation. Just watch the televangelists who sell prayer rags for debt relief.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:35PM (#13845367) Homepage
    Cripes the Ukranian dating site scams have been around for over 5 years now. I remember a friend getting sucked in on that at work paying for "fees" and then paying for "english lessons" for the girl he really liked. he was eventually bilked out of $5000.00 before he got a clue.

    The nigerians are way behind in their scams.
  • I had one of these people contact me via Yahoo IM. "She" claimed to be stuck in Africa and in need of money to get back to the USA.

    I had a lot of fun playing along. It reminded me a little of D&D. I picked a persona and then played it to the hilt, knowing all along that it was a scam.

    I was fascinated to learn from the article that these guys have counterparts in the USA who will try to intimidate you into paying up. I guess I didn't take the scenario far enough to get a call from some Nigerian "Guid
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:47PM (#13845490)
    [They] have the belief that white men are stupid and greedy.

    That's rather ironic. If you read 419eater or any of the other "scam the scammer" sites out there, it's pretty clear who the stupid and greedy ones are in this game.

    While I don't have too much respect for the intellect of the average American, the people who actually fall for these scams are probably the most stupid and greedy among our population, but they are a fraction of a percent of Americans. Most people have long since been trained to spot these things for what they are now and recognize that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. The Internet is no different from the rest of life in that way.

    The scammers, however, are too stupid to realize that if a scammee is asking for absurd, ridiculous acts to be documented on film, then the joke is almost certainly on the scammer.

    I have pretty much no empathy for these people, no matter how poor they are or what adversity they have faced. They have turned to common thuggery to steal that which they feel entitled to, instead of trying to earn an honest living the way we, or our parents, or our grandparents who came from equally poor backgrounds in other parts of the world did. Every time a scammer dies a miserable death, baby Jesus smiles.

    Until the entire continent of Africa learns a more constructive ethic of hard work and self-help, all the charity in the world won't help them.
  • by Safe Sex Goddess ( 910415 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:47PM (#13845494) Homepage Journal
    It's funny how we seem to get most upset when it's people who have almost nothing doing the scamming. Yet when rich folk do scamming, like the Savings & Loan scandal, Enron, Worldcom, and so on, people don't get so upset.

    I can't tell you how many times I hear about welfare fraud where someone might net a few hundred dollars a month, but these same people never once mention the corporate people who steal millions or hundreds of millions of dollars. Or corporate bosses who steal the pension plans from people who have worked hard all their careers and are left with nothing. Thank god for social security so they won't starve.

    So right now we're worried about some Nigerians stealling tens of millions a year when we've got tens of billions in medical fraud going on in this country.

    Get some perspective.

    • I disagree with your following statement:

      It's funny how we seem to get most upset when it's people who have almost nothing doing the scamming. Yet when rich folk do scamming, like the Savings & Loan scandal, Enron, Worldcom, and so on, people don't get so upset.

      Do you know how many people lost their jobs, lost their entire retirement savings account, and had to start from scratch from the Enron scandal? If you not, I'd recommend you to watch: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room [imdb.com].

      I don't know about other
    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @03:08PM (#13846770)
      It's funny how we seem to get most upset when it's people who have almost nothing doing the scamming. Yet when rich folk do scamming, like the Savings & Loan scandal, Enron, Worldcom, and so on, people don't get so upset.

      What the hell are you talking about? This is not insightful, this is class-baiting anti-business nonsense painting with a stupidly broad brush and getting the facts wrong (not that doing so ever stopped a good anti-business rant, of course). But let's say you're immune to all of the CEOs-Going-To-Jail media coverage. The reason "we" don't get so upset is because something is done about people like that. They lose their jobs, page huge (usually bankrupting) fines, and then give up their liberty as they go to actual prison. The billions and billions that are lost to petty scams, inside retail theft, check/credit fraud, identity theft... that stuff makes us mad because people are rarely caught. Profiles about people who do it are inflammatory for that very reason.
  • There are greedy and/or stupid people everywhere; and there are scammers everywhere.

    And nobody deserves it because they are stupid. What a callous statement. An old lady, who is not as sharp as she once was, get cheated out of her life's saving - HA HA!! She deserves it! Right?

    Not that I can expect any honesty, but I'll ask anyway: if you somehow could make that much money *that* easily, would you turn it down? If not, are you greedy?

    BTW: I have never been taken by any such scam. Percentage wise, I doubt m
  • by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slashdot@gmail . c om> on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:55PM (#13845586) Homepage Journal
    Is the average american stupid and gullible? Let's see what Mr. Infomercial can tell us.

    "Forget about diets! Forget about exercise! With the new fat-o-free efervescent pills, you can get from THIS (fat lady in picture) to THIS (supermodel)! Forget about those tight clothes (B/W scene shown)! Start your new, slim life, with fat-o-free! 1-900-IAMA-DUMB. CALL NOW! Our operators will be pleased to help you! And if you call in the next 30 minutes, you get F-R-E-E our how-to-lose-weight manual. (blinking)C-A-L-L---N-O-W!!!!!"

    As I said in an earlier post, the media and commercialized culture has "educated" the american mind into believing there are easy magical solutions for all our problems, instead of investigating the problems from the root and encouraging hard work. And if material solutions don't work, then somebody must be affecting your karma (and there we go, to the next degree of scams: If it doesn't work is because you don't have faith!).

    The apparition of 419 scams was just a matter of time. (Kinda brought it upon themselves, if you ask me)
  • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:11PM (#13845754)
    And a person from Africa contacted me... I looked at the photo in the person's profile, and imagine my surprise to find out that Tyra Banks wanted to date me!

    Apparently the fact that there was a slight distance and ocean between us didn't seem to matter.

    When I pointed out that, "hey Tyra, the copyright notice is still on the photo" (from a well known magazine), the person sadly stopped sending me messages...
  • I myself admit... (Score:5, Informative)

    by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@noSpaM.smokingcube.be> on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:28PM (#13845898) Homepage
    I have once been on one of those online trading sites (like e-bay) and someone offered a single new laptop for about 700 USD. It seemed nice enough, still in the box and the price was very good. I suspected something about the price but replied anyway. The dude said he was selling it because he was a yuppie from the UK and he ordered the wrong product but couldn't get refunded.
    I myself am from another EU-state so it had to be shipped over. He told me he was going to use this and this shipping company with 3-way system (escrow service) and take all the costs on him.

    The site seemed legit, even had some sort of certificate of a known site for e-commerce (it said on their site) but before I agreed I checked the "click here to certify" link which took me to another site saying the certificate was correct but not quite the site of the issuer. Checking the real site of the advertised certificate the site was not in their lists.

    I contacted that certificate site to verify and they said there was no certificate issued for the site so they were going to do the necessary steps. I mailed the dude saying that I wanted to use another escrow service because the site was abusing the logo of certificate issuer and that I contacted authorities and never heard from him again, his e-mail doesn't exist anymore etc.

    I was almost tricked into such scam and I understand that some are being scammed buying christmas gifts for their grandchildren. But some promises are indeed too great (like the nigerian scamming letters) and should trigger something inside any sane persons head that there is something fishy.

    My advice to anyone with online business: if it looks, hears or smells fishy, then check everything being said and promised until the bottom!
  • by yndrd ( 529288 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:31PM (#13845923) Homepage
    It's an old truism of the con artists' trade that the best kind of mark is the person who thinks they're getting something for nothing--that they're really scamming the con artist.

    This is my favorite element of the crime: taking advantage of a desire to take advantage.

    Hooray for duelling dishonesty!

    I love those Nigerian scams, if only because I like the fact that someone says, "I'm going to pull a fast one on this Nigerian yokel for all that money."
  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:20PM (#13846350)
    ... was the guy who responded to one of these emails, saying that the money would really come in handy, as he was in dire financial straits. As the series progressed, he escalated it to the point where he had killed his girlfriend (he sent the 419er a picture of her blood-soaked "body" in a bathtub), and now needed the money to flee the country. Meanwhile, the 419er is still trying to get some money out of him. One of the funniest things I've ever read on the net.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @02:48PM (#13846581) Journal
    Is that America is a society of 'Caveat Emptor' - let the buyer beware.
    We've got laws and a social order that reviles scamsters, conmen, and thieves BUT there is also a sort of Robin-Hood admiration for someone with the chutzpah and intelligence to pull this over on someone. Hollywood has been fascinated by these characters for decades: Paper Moon, The Sting, The Grifters, etc

    Let's be totally honest: when you read about some grandma or naive intarweb n00b being taken in on one of these scams, your gut reaction isn't "that darn naughty criminal!" it's "WTF? Who could be STUPID enough to fall for this nonsense?"

    It's financial Darwinism. Frankly, if someone with $200,000 to blow loses it to a Nigerian scammer, it's practically justified. If they were a different moral character, they'd blow it on drugs, gambling, the Church, or any number of the millions of expensive tarpits lying around for the unwary.

If all else fails, lower your standards.

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