May 12, 2006

Falling for a 419 scam

Absolutely unbelievable story via India Uncut (reproducing his post here in full - in italics)...

Scammed by a Nigerian

There's one thing that you can take for granted for common spam: people fall for them. If they didn't have victims, the costs of sending those mails, however negligible they may be, wouldn't be worth it for the spammers. So somewhere on the net there are people who want their thingies enlarged, who try to encash winning lottery tickets they never bought, who buy OEM software, and who help Ngbobe Obucha get his millions out of Nigeria. What are these people like, one wonders.

Well, the New Yorker relates the fascinating story of John W Worley, a psychotherapist from Massachusetts who was both victim and accomplice of a Nigerian email scam. I wonder if it's just a coincidence that Worley was a deeply religious man, for that would indicate a certain readymade gullibility. After all, if you are so eager to believe in one kind of fiction for your salvation...

I am amazed that there actually are scammers, whole hordes of them in Lagos, who are planning out these scams in great intricacy and moreso that there are thousands of people (even so-called men of “integrity and honesty') who actually fall for this too! I always dismissed emails I get like this as dead-end spam mails that go nowhere... obviously, all scam has a source and the source has an intent, which some people, in their naivete and/or greed, help them fulfill....

Particularly interesting is this paragraph from the New Yorker article..
Robert B. Reich, the former Labor Secretary, who has studied the psychology of market behavior, says, “American culture is uniquely prone to the ‘too good to miss’ fallacy. ‘Opportunity’ is our favorite word. What may seem reckless and feckless and hapless to people in many parts of the world seems a justifiable risk to Americans.” But appetite for risk is only part of it. A mark must be willing to pursue a fortune of questionable origin. The mind-set was best explained by the linguist David W. Maurer in his classic 1940 book, “The Big Con”: “As the lust for large and easy profits is fanned into a hot flame, the mark puts all his scruples behind him. He closes out his bank account, liquidates his property, borrows from his friends, embezzles from his employer or his clients. In the mad frenzy of cheating someone else, he is unaware of the fact that he is the real victim, carefully selected and fatted for the kill. Thus arises the trite but none the less sage maxim: ‘You can’t cheat an honest man.’ ”

Although I take a very serious view of such religious dogma and bigotry at my Religious Dogma compilation, maybe I should add a link to your post a tongue-in-cheek commentary on my aversion to believe-in-my-god-or-go-to-hell bigots - espcially holier-than-thou bigots who scream from their pulpits about
Satan 'going to be trying to destroy you every inch of the way.' Looks like though he took it to be God's will, Satan misled him here, huh? :)

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