Nigerian email scam is used to find only the most gullible targets

By on June 21, 2012, 12:00 PM

I’ve owned the same email address for over 10 years so it goes without saying that I’ve seen my fair share of spam messages. Even with various email rules and spam blockers in place, I typically wake up to nearly 100 junk messages in my inbox each morning.

With the exception of recent phishing tactics, the level of absurdity with regards to topics that most spammers choose has always shocked me. Are spammers complete clueless when sending out countless messages about a rich Nigerian prince that needs your help to transfer a large sum of money? I mean, surely everyone has heard of this scam, so why haven’t scammers moved on to more plausible scenarios?

As it turns out, the Nigerian scam is actually used with a great deal of intent according to a new study from Microsoft Research. From the perspective of the scammer, sending out a massive number of obviously phony emails helps to filter out false positives; those that are attacked but yield nothing.

The remaining individuals are exactly what the scammer wants – true positives, or people that are gullible enough to fall for the scam. These marks are more likely to give up personal information or flat out hand over large sums of cash to the scammer simply because they believe the scam to be true.

The sad part is that people actually fall for this all the time. Fox News notes that in 2008 an Oregon woman lost $400,000 to a similar racket after friends, family and even her bank told her it was a scam.




User Comments: 16

Got something to say? Post a comment
Camikazi said:

Stupid people will always be stupid, these things just help up find them now if there was only a way to deal with them :P

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

can we focus on tracking down scammers instead of pirates?

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"There's a sucker born every minute." - P.T. Barnum

Only some suckers seem to be considerably more gullible than others. It's mind boggling to me that someone would consider an e-mail received out of the blue, from someone they've never met - a Nigerian "Prince" no less - who has singled them out personally from the 8 billion people in the world to help them with their money "transfer" to be legit. It is just so laughable...

But then those are the people this article is referring to.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

Pirate are much more easily tracked down. (at least the ones who don't take any precautions) 99% of the time the scammers are overseas and once the money is gone there is little to nothing that law enforcement can do. I feel that most of these gullible people don't take the time to read and/or they don't continue to educate themselves otherwise these scams would be laughable.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

It's mind boggling to me that someone would consider an e-mail received out of the blue, from someone they've never met - a Nigerian "Prince" no less - who has singled them out personally out of the 8 billion people in the world to help them out with their money "transfer" to be legit. It is just so laughable...

Greed & charity - there are no easier ways to get people to part with their money or information.

Guest said:

really, you're going to cite fox news?

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"There's a sucker born every minute." - P.T. Barnum

That is so wrong on so many levels.

Guest said:

Maybe the US Government should use this tactic. The Deficit would be erased in no time.

Guest said:

As opposed to NBC? Fox News makes the effort to give balance unlike much of the MSM. Lose your unfounded prejudices.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

As opposed to NBC? Fox News makes the effort to give balance unlike much of the MSM. Lose your unfounded prejudices.

They are all slanted and contain so much opinion that it comes out lies. You're going to come out with someone else's view on the world if you watch TV news.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Its sad that people will still fall for this kind of scam. To me it seems most that do fall for it are older/elderly, and have little knowledge of how the internet and email actually work and didn't grow up with the internet/email at their figure tips. Without much of a knowledge email works, its not as mind boggling to them that some "tracked" them down, or singled them out of billions of people.

petert said:

yeah - most of the victims loose money in the scam. But there are unfortunate cases in which they can loose their life, or their freedom. There were cases in which the victim flew in Africa in order to meet the "rich prince". The victims are usually kidnapped and hold for a ransom - and eventually killed. Also, some victims were tricked by the spammers to participate in illegal bank transfers. So when the police traced the money path and found the victim - guess who serves jail time because they actually thought that strangers over the internet transfer money into people account on a regular basis and allows them to keep a small fee (because they were generous and allowed the stranger to use their bank account).

John Senchak John Senchak said:

You would not believe the personal information that I've seen given up to phishing scams on a daily basis. Are these people stupid to just hand over the information?

LookinAround LookinAround, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

As opposed to NBC? Fox News makes the effort to give balance unlike much of the MSM. Lose your unfounded prejudices.

Fox News is the leader of DSM (Divisive Stream Media). And, no, my prejudices aren't unfounded. I watch Fox News (and Fox Business Network) regularly to hear what they have to say. Ironic their tag line is "Fair and Balanced" and they have shows tagged as "The No Spin Zone". They're the king of spin and bias.

Chris Wallace let it slip in his interview with Jon Stewart when he said "We tell the other side". Because of course there are only two sides to any argument, right?! Theirs and anyone else's! LOL Which is too bad as they do have some good views but for the most part Fox and the Republicans remind me of Groucho Marx in Horse Feathers when he sang "Whatever it is, I'm against it!" (Click the link and listen to the lyrics!)

Back to topic:

People are stupid when it comes to money and they think greed. Look at how many get suckered into scams when they sell merchandise on Craigslist. And Criaglist is filled with bright red warnings on what to watch out for! But they don't read or don't pay attention! But, rather, only think they will make extra money following scam directions.

Guest said:

I tend not to watch "Main stream news" I get the feeling that im being told what to do. In fact there is so many gullible people who fall for the scams of Fox news.

ECHTECH said:

How is it that some of the most gullible people have so much money to lose?

If they are so gullible, how did they get all of their money in the first place?

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.