How to defeat Nigerian e-mail scams

Why don't the Nigerians say:
"We're from New Jersey"?

Nicholas Thompson in The New Yorker explains:
...Microsoft Research, a think tank run by the company, published a white paper titled “Why Do Nigerian Scammers Say They Are from Nigeria?” Many of the scammers, the report notes, are indeed from Nigeria. But they lie about lots of things (like “we have a large sum of gold”). Why not also pretend to be from a place that is not known for e-mail scams? Why don’t they make the whole scheme seem a little less ridiculous at the outset? Why don’t the scammers say they are from some place more plausible, like “New Jersey”?

The report’s answer, which involves a lot of math, is fairly simple: scammers only want really gullible people to respond to their initial query. These scams are complicated — they involve lots of negotiations, charm, and conning. Many of them fall through. If Mr. Mutumba sends out fifty thousand e-mails, it’s going to make his life much easier if his claim is so ridiculous — and so easy to debunk through Bing or Google — that only ten, and not a hundred, potential suckers respond. Scammers, like the rest of us, have other stuff to do...
Read the whole thing: The Golden Rule: A New Way to Defeat Nigerian E-mail Scams, The New Yorker>>

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