Short interview with a 419 scammer

419scammerI saw the conversation in the picture on the right on BB today, so I thought it was about time to post this. A while back I got an email from a “friend” claiming to be stranded on vacation, having his wallet stolen, and asking me to send emergency money so he could get home — promising of course to pay me back on his return. This is a fairly common email scam, and the sender’s IP address was from Nigeria, so I wrote him back and engaged him in a conversation about what he was doing. He initially told me he was “a young black male of 16 yrs old and in college, living with my foster parents who don’t have any money for my upkeep so i do this to feed and pay my fees” and agreed to talk in more detail (at which point these initial details changed). Following is our conversation, presented completely unedited.


What sort of person are you?
I am 18 yrs of age, from a family of five, Parents and three kids. I happen to be the first child. I am a regular person, not handicapped.

What do you do every day?
The only things i do everyday is eat, use the internet and sleep.

Do you have another job or are you a student?
I am a student. i the money i make from the internet is helpful in funding my school needs

How did you get started with online scams?
It all started when I found out others where doing it. I believe online scams started due to the local scams out here in Nigeria. Since the internet is such a big place, people felt they could meet more people and rich one at that.

Are you part of a group of people or do you work on your own?
I work on my own, but we do work in groups most times, just to make the victims believe at least.

What would happen if you were caught?
I don’t know, I always try to be optimistic that I can never be caught.

How do you decide who to email?
I just email anybody, email addresses are everywhere all over the internet.

What type of scam works best?
The scam that works best is advanced fee fraud.

Do you have internet access at home, or do you work from an Internet Cafe?
Work at an internet cafe, its not expensive compared to what you be making. An hour is set at about a dollar

Why do you think this is so popular in Nigeria?
Cause we certainly have to eat and the leaders are not doing what they ought to.

What type of person is most likely to reply?
Old, young and most especially the greedy ones are the targets.

Will you keep doing this work for a long time, or will you quit when you have made enough money?
Really i’m not hoping to do this forever. Just trying to get some capital or something. but the majority are hoping to continue this for as long as they can. Its kind of like an option for not going into the streets and picking guns like every other country does.

What are your plans for the future?
Every thing. A Nigerian has dreams than every kid in every part of the world. I’m always aiming at the sky, just wanna be some sort of celebrity wherever i find myself. But mainly a Medical practitioner.

Do you think you are a good person?
i know its bad, Its really bad. But I know I’ll get out real soon because i’m not built for this, I have dreams.

Do you have regrets about doing this work? Is it hard to do it?
Its really hard, even harder than for us than those who do honest jobs. I can’t say i have regrets, I don’t think i’ve ever had them. i only stop at times and think like, look at what i’ve become. not really impressed with me.

Do your friends and family know what you do?
Do they know? My family don’t know, but my friends know. its hard to find any one of my friend who don’t do this. its either they do this, or they get involved in lottery.

What do you do with the money that you get and where do you tell people the money came from?
They know where it comes from. its only those that don’t know me that thinks my parents are rich or something. i use it to get a good life while it lasts and do all other projects i need to do.

I only buy stuffs online and ship to the usa and then get it sent to me in nigeria on percentage. and better the receiver sells it within the usa and sends my percentage down here. Ranging from jewelry to laptops….

How much does it cost to live in Nigeria?
3 square meals isn’t more than 30 dollars and monthly tenement rate depends on the vicinity. You know there are some developed areas and some aren’t and some are kind of middle classes. it really varies. The rich spend much while the poor spend less. The areas differ. Poor families get stucked up in little rooms at 500 USD a year i.e for a room. a room and a sitting room is 1000 USD for a year and stuffs like that.

What would you like the world to know about people who do these email scams?
Its not fun, and we kind of do this to survive. Some have this orientation; “We are trying to pay the whites back for stealing from africa”.



  1. Laura wrote:

    Hey Shannon,
    If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the rest of the Skype conversation with “Mr. Robert Dutu”:

    Monday, March 23, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Permalink
  2. Steph wrote:

    Only you Shannon, only you :)

    Pretty interesting conversation though. I get a ton of those e-mails weekly and of course I discard them. It saddens me that they feed off of the elderly because they don’t *always* know any better or aren’t always there. Anyone else falling prey to this is greedy and ignorant. But hey like they say there’s a sucker born every minute!

    Monday, March 23, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Permalink
  3. wintermute wrote:

    really interesting. This really touched me: i’ve never seen on the internet someone explain the other side of the story.

    Monday, March 23, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Permalink
  4. These people are criminals.Period.People choose their paths….leadership is almost non existent here granted but that doesnt excuse taking money from foreigners or anyone illegally….you need to see how they live here with moneies gotten from fraud…
    ..Giving them a hearing is like understanding from a rapist point of view.
    Check out this url, i wrote for FortuneCNNMoney.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  5. Ashleigh wrote:

    so interesting!

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 7:23 am | Permalink
  6. Andrew wrote:

    These Nigerian people are even trying to con people via sms now. My mum got a message earlier saying that her personal bank details are on a website.

    When you visit the URL it says that the website will only work with Internet Explorer. It turns out to be a trojan.

    The sad part about it though is that some poor person will fall for it.

    Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  7. Nygaard wrote:

    Very interesting interview.
    That’s the beauty of this blog.. good reading that you just don’t get anywhere else.

    Monday, March 30, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

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  1. […] Short interview with a Nigerian scammer. […]

  2. Abandoned Stuff by Saskboy :: Making a Dishonest Living on Friday, May 1, 2009 at 10:42 am

    […] a crime, but someone has to do it, or so these people think. How do you decide who to email? I just email anybody, email addresses are everywhere all over the […]

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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