“Dear Beloved Friend”: Nigerian flimflam men discuss the ins and outs of the Internet hustle

As it turns out, this is still a thing.

If you’ve ever wondered about who’s at the other end of all those scam emails filling up your spam folder then this story is a must-read. A chance encounter with a former Nigerian email hustler afforded Mother Jones contributor Erika Eichelberger a chance to report on the inside world of Nigerian email fraud. I’m equal parts fascinated and creeped out at these career criminals’ casual descriptions of their industry’s standard business practices:

“Whenever we want to fraud somebody, we will know what you are worth,” Danjuma says. “Where are you working?” Even “how much you have in your account.” They glean all this information just by developing a tight relationship with the dupe. If the mark is worthwhile, the scammer works up “a level of trust,” Danjuma continues. “Maybe the person doesn’t have a husband, and the person is looking for a husband in Nigeria…

The two fraudsters make most of their money duping fellow Nigerians. (They insist that tricking people is not the same as stealing. “We don’t thief,” Danjuma says.) They told me about one elaborate scam, called Elawala (or “Let’s go” in Igbo, one of the languages spoken in Nigeria), that they occasionally pull on their countrymen. It involves a taxi cab, a “juju man,” magic charms, and a huge bag of cash (and it’s way too complicated to explain here). Another go-to scam involves a taxi cab, a French man, a locked box filled with gold, and very expensive pliers. (Ditto.)”

Whoa. Let’s hear it for the spam filter, yeah?


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