Monday, September 3, 2012

Nigerian Scams Are Not For You

You've probably received or seen one of these:
a terminally-ill Nigerian prince / director of a massive corporation / dieing nun / disgruntled US soldier contacts you urgently, asking you to move a large sum of money, promising you can keep a share. All they need is your credit card number and banking PIN...
It looks like a scam, sounds like a scam - of course it's a scam. But who on earth actually believes these things? If you've ever wondered why these scams are so blatant, here's why...if you were just too smart for the scammer and saw through the tricky plot - it simply means you were never the target in the first place.
A recent study has found that email scammers really aren't interested in appearing believable...because it would just be too expensive if everyone fell for it.
The research conducted by Microsoft - "Why do Nigerian scammers say they are from Nigeria?" - found that the OTT scam email, complete with typos is a simple cost-effective way of weeding out intelligent people, leaving only the dumb and dumber to hit.
Principal researcher Cormac Herley: "Our analysis suggests that's an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims, the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce the false positives. By sending a mass email that filters out all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select."
It seems to work. Just last year a Nigerian man was jailed for 12 years after scamming US$1.3 million. In 2008 an Oregon woman lost $400k to a similar scam. Every month or so, someone goes down in a screaming heap here in NZ, bemoaning their recently-raped bank account.
So next time you open a scam email and think to yourself: "Why do they bother?", live happy in the knowledge you're not the target at all!
Which is a bit of a shame really, coz the current total I'm due to collect via Nigeria so far is over $4.1 billion!!!

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