Thursday, April 10, 2008
The 118th good thing about Lagos: Fewer Nigerian internet scam artists in business
We just got back from a Nigerian Field Society lecture -- it was a Nigerian author on a book tour talking about and reading from his new book, as well as his publisher talking about publishing in Nigeria. It was pretty interesting. But I really enjoyed a conversation I had before the lecture with a German woman. She has been living here in Nigeria for 6 years (and traveled here working before then) for the Nigerian Economic Crime Commission. She is the only non-Nigerian to work in this office -- she said they call her the "mom" of the Commission. This is an agency that is kind of a part of the Nigerian government, but not entirely, she said. I didn't really understand that. But basically they do crime work. She said they periodically focus their work on Nigerian internet scams. She said this last week alone they arrested 400 of these scam artists here in Nigeria. She said they can't do anything about the ones working outside of Nigeria, but the US government agencies, the Secret Service and FBI, as well as Interpol, work closely with them and aggressively follow the leads they give them. She said there are lots of people setting up offices with computers and they hire workers to send out these scam letters. She said sometimes she feels sorry arresting some of these young boys that are just doing the job to get money for food. But she reminds them that they know that what they are doing is wrong and so they have to take the penalty. She said they try to do these sweeps at least once a month and there's a never ending supply of people to arrest for this crime. She said she just checked and 80% of the people they arrested last month were still in jail. Hopefully the experience of being in a Nigerian jail will be something of a deterrent when they get out. In the meantime, when you get a Nigerian internet scam letter, you can either delete it, or forward it to this agency that investigates internet scams. But, unfortunately, it's been a while since I've done it, so I can't remember the address where you forward these scam letters. Maybe one of my readers will have that address handy and put it in the comments. Anyway, I'm glad that Frieda is on the job and that there are now 400 fewer Nigerian scam artists in business.