Wednesday, February 17, 2010

9 out of every thousand? And the Order of The Red Breast

Scam Detectives has an interesting interview with a former Nigerian 419 Scammer.

You know the scam, if you have an email account you must have received many email offers promising millions of dollars if you help some poor Nigerian widow or Banker get rid of extra money that they don’t need.

I was always puzzled by these emails, maybe once upon a time people could be fooled, but today I would have thought that everyone has seen these types of scams hundreds of times and could see right through.

What amazed me in the interview is that the ex-scammer claims that almost 1% of emails get a response (he says 9-10 at of every thousand) and 5% of responses lead to a successful scam, averaging about $7500.

That means that if a scammer sends out 500,000 emails (which doesn’t sound unreasonable to me) he could make well over a million dollars with little or no cost to himself.

The interview was a very interesting read, here are some of the highlights:

John: I’m 23 years old and was released from prison in Nigeria in October last year where I served two years for fraud. I am now doing a business studies course at college and am in the UK on a student exchange programme. As part of my rehabilitation I am also working with the EFCC in Nigeria to help them understand more about scams and how the gangs work. I don’t do scams any more.

Scam-Detective: What kind of scams were you involved with?

John: Mainly advance fee fraud where we would tell people that someone has died and left millions in a bank or safety deposit box and that we needed help to get it out of the country.

Scam-Detective: But where do the “foot soldiers” find the email addresses?

John: Lots of people sign guestbooks online and leave their email addresses all over the internet on forums and websites. We would just visit the guestbooks, forums and websites and harvest the email addresses….

Scam-Detective: What percentage of emails would get a response?

John: Maybe 9 or 10 out of every thousand emails. Then maybe 1 out of every 20 replies would lead to us getting money out of the victim in the end.

Scam-Detective: And how much money would you expect to get from a victim?

John: On average, about $7,500 (£4,600) but the most I know about was $25,000 (£15,400)….

John: In the year before I was arrested I earned about $75,000 (£46,000) for my family. I bought my family a better house and drove a BMW. I had mobile phones and laptops and everything that comes with having lots of money.

Please, if you know someone who may have been taken in by this type of scam, please alert the police or appropriate authorities.

Ohh – and for people not familiar with Holy Church of The Order of The Red Breast, take a look at this great example of how to out scam the scammers:

Other interesting stories here:

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