At the least, a very small number of valid email addresses, an even smaller number of postal mailing addresses, and a vanishingly small number of financial interactions.
That's actually a little different. When people are desperate they are willing to go with emotion instead of rationality. That's why they travel overseas for miracle cures even though rationally what they are doing doesn't make any sense at all.
There is also the greed factor which is somewhat similar and why people go for "to good to be true" things if the price is low enough.
There is a blogger who I will not name that has chosen to go with godaddy $9 hosting for his quite popular blog (he used to pay $100 for a VPS or something like that) and he truly believes that gd will give him unlimited everything at that price point just because that's what the site says. While he is not particularly savvy in terms of hosting and technical things (by his own admission) his greed (if I can call it that) makes him overlook and ignore the obvious.
I'm sure someone can point out the exact psych principles that are involved here.
Source: personal experience (Bluehost, not GoDaddy)
Reading "unlimited bandwidth" doesn't imply that's not the case unless you know from experience or hearsay that there are heavy conditions.
Same thing with "lonely girls in your down", how am I to know that's not true on face value in this particular area and that rather it's a common come-on.
I think we like to think optimistically and assume people mean what they say in general.
And gullible needs to be emphasized. A lot of people seem to think scammers only get the greedy, which is not true. For example, how are fake charities targeting the greedy? Or the grandparent scam? 
They can be bad people, some of their number may have murdered people, but I don't think that makes any and all actions toward them justified.
2. Madoff's 'customers' mostly believed that he must be doing something not quite kosher, but they thought they could still make money off of it.
This is a significant thing. My anecdotal understanding (from talking to my wall st friends) is that his clients basically thought he was screwing someone else (with his trading operations) so that his fund could do so well.
I wonder if this effect also takes hold in Nigerian emails scams. Would their success rate go up if they implied they were screwing someone else out of the money?
It also discourages you from reporting it once you have sent off any money.
Ultimately it becomes a carrot/stick - if you send more money you will get closer to the pay out BUT if you don't send more money we will reveal your role to the police/banks in your country.
His victims' greed worked against them in the same way that greed works in a Nigerian scam.
It should me noted that the particular format of scam discussed in this paper (the templates/models are called formats) is along the line of inheritance and criminal government officials. However, it does not address other formats such as lottery/employment/relationship scams to mention a few.
This 'reason' given in the conclusion might be one data point but far from being 'The reason' Why Scammers Say They are from Nigeria.
Thanks submitter for putting the quotation marks around Nigerian scammers because I did not see anywhere in the article that certified the letters calming to be from Nigeria were actually from Nigeria.
A final note: Scams (including those originating from Nigeria/by Nigerians) are of international dimensions; therefore assuming a scam would have to be unraveled eventually since the money MUST be eventually sent to Nigeria is false. Therefore there is no compulsion to always eliminate those that are false positives to the word Nigeria. Other false positives can be used without eliminating the very same people all the time.
The answer to the 'research question' would be more accurate/inclusive if got form a qualitative method than quantitative.
"This 'reason' given in the conclusion might be one data point but far from being 'The reason' Why Scammers Say They are from Nigeria."
Agree. There is certainly no discussion of any conversations with actual scammers to see if that is the reason they do what they do or what they are thinking. And as far as copycat crimes go, it would make sense that someone would mimick an existing ubiquitous scheme rather than coming up with an entirely new and unique location in the world. Most people who kill themselves of course choose a method that they've heard other people use and it is well known that there are crime waves that start with a single incident. Lastly there is no data available to show what happens if you don't choose nigeria as your location to back any of this highly academic analysis up.
Of course this paper and analysis could be used with many things. Take dating for example. Is it better to go on a first date dressed to the nines or dressed at 70% (arbitrarily picked to prove a point) your best dressed look? I could take that and get someone to write a paper which shows that you have a higher chance of getting married if you dress at 70% on your first date since you will weed out many people that aren't attracted to your average looks. But the fact that I can present an academic paper showing that doesn't make the fact true without something more to back it up.
I think the hackers challenge is to present a story that is credible enough. Claiming to be from a country that is perceived to be mismanaged and corrupt by the target audience helps. Linking it to some real event such as some real coup makes it even more credible. But finally, once someone gullible enough follows up - if you have a nigerian accent or ask them to mail to a nigerian account, claiming to be from some other place will make maintaining that credibility very difficult. I believe that is primarily why nigerian scammers pretend to be Nigerian, and Iranian scammers pretend to be Iranian.
If you feel this person's anecdote is not helpful, it miht be better to reason against it directly rather than engaging in meta-debate. You risk re-opening a debate about that post rather than the current topoc.
Let X = claim to be Nigerian, and Y = earn money using a "419" scam.
The article says that while it may appear foolish to do X if you want Y,
an economic argument shows that doing X in fact leads to more Y.
The scientific or analytical part of the article is solely the part about
X leading to more Y.
The author then conjectures that Nigerians must continue claiming to be
Nigerian because they have somehow come to realize that it is good
The grandparent's conjecture is that Nigerians continue claiming to be
Nigerian simply because they still expect the money to be deposited into a
Nigerian account, they still speak with a Nigerian accent, etc.
Both are reasonable conjectures, and analytical part of the article
is consistent with either one.
> We consider a population of N users, which contains M viable targets. By viable we mean that these targets always yield a net proﬁt of G when attacked, while non-viable targets yield nothing. Each attack costs C; thus attacking a non-viable target generates a loss of C
This supposes that the viability of targets is boolean: you're either gullible or you're not. But isn't it possible that targets' viability (or profit potential) is a function of the sophistication of the attack?
After the family learned that she had given $250k to this guy, we stepped in and put a stop to it. She was embarrassed, and ashamed... and kept talking to him. We found out later that she had given him more money, after their "relationship" had continued for a number of months.
FTA, unsophisticated attacks select for unsophisticated targets. As the likelihood of a payday from a given target increases, so too does the sophistication until an equilibrium is reached and increased effort no longer yields increased rewards.
I watched a coworker send money to Nigeria once for a Teacup Yorkie - $900 for a pedigreed dog including air transport seemed like proof of the victim's internet shopping savvy and unsolicited warnings from the workplace were ignored.
What was amazing was how well the scammer read the victim. The dog was to board a 10 am flight and arrive in ATL at 2:30. The email arrived at about 10:15 notifying the victim that another $400 was needed for customs but that the dog could still make the flight.
Two of us working hard managed to convince the victim not to send the money - I think that the possibility of a dog flying from Nigeria to a baggage carousel in Atlanta in three hours finally made it through the filter. But it was a close call.
The victim was a savvy college graduate with a good job which required a lot of responsibility and hard knuckle negotiations with contractors and vendors on a regular basis. The attacker was extremely sophisticated in their pitch. It's why the victim trusted them and didn't verify anything.
Exactly. There's so much social stigma attached to being a scam victim that it literally disables one of our defenses: self-doubt.
Presumably it's possible to compile a statistic that factors in all the game-theoretic elements, so that on a per-attack basis the population can be assumed static like this, even if actual targets are changing over time.
It's to get a ballpark number.
Anyway, I find the title of section 3.2 rather fetching: "If attacking everyone is not profitable slope must be greater than unity"
Take that, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ships_of_the_Culture_se...
I actually spent more than an hour on the phone with some of the call-you-up-because-you've-won-something-but-you-can't-have-it-unless-you-give-us-money scams once. I repeatedly gave them a bogus credit card number and insisted it ought to work. I got passed from person to person and was asked with varying degrees of politeness and barely suppressed aggravation to repeat the number backwards and forwards, and was I sure it hadn't expired, and did I possibly have another credit card, etc.. I was very polite and cheerful, agreeing graciously with every request to be put on hold or transferred. Hold times are great to get the giggles under control.
When the last guy they transferred to me asked if I was toying with them (I'm pretty sure I covered my giggle with a decent enough cough, but maybe not), I asked him if I could phone my bank to find out what the problem was and call him back. Out of the question, of course. I asked if I could check with my bank and if they'd please call me back in 10 minutes. He agreed, but I never called my bank and he never called back.
What I wish I had got in there somewhere was something like "it really ought to work, I used it yesterday to pay for postage on a parcel from Nigeria."
The overall idea is that it is helpful for them to present an image that less gullible people will immediately write off as a scam, so as to reduce the responses to a set of people that are gullible enough to be profitable to pursue.
The ideal scenario for these people is to be busy all the time dealing with the most gullible potential victims rather than chasing people who will balk at sending them money. Any more responses than they can deal with, and they'd be better off filtering out more of the less gullible people by making their initial approach more likely to send poor targets running.
Presenting themselves as Nigerian is one way of increasing the odds of triggering alarm bells with the less gullible people, but by no means the only alternative.
There's also every reason to assume that a reasonable number of scammers are simply clueless and try these scams because they think they'll make money, not because they've actually found a method that is viable for them, so you'd expect to see a reasonable chunk of scammers that don't do the optimal thing anyway.
If malicious types didn't find a way to circumvent your code such that they could use you as a relay for their junk, they would at least be able to use your auto-responder to try DoS or joe-job someone else (potentially leaving you with a large bandwidth bill and a collection of explaining/apologising to do).
The scam has evolved into other forms, for example, the variant where a decent looking guy on a dating website communicates with an older foreign woman for months, before he then goes somewhere where he is "kidnapped" by terrorists and they need a few thousands to release him, or where he cannot pay his bills because he lost his wallet.
The scammers are like people creating viruses - they are evolving, becoming more subtle and adapting to the internet. The mass email thing is a known exploit, and I doubt it is profitable for them anymore.
On the other hand, increasing noise will lead to even more sophisticated attacks and increasingly cunning attackers - evolutionary pressure in action.
What to do ?
Please avoid introducing classic flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say about them."
But I am definitely not alone in making this observation: