Aug. 8th, 2010 05:45 am
skyring: (Default)
[personal profile] skyring
I've often wondered just how people could fall for email scams. The language is mangled beyond repair, the presentation woeful, the offers are unbelievable, and the technical details risible. Frankly, bank managers don't go around offering five million dollars of their clients' money to random people on the internet, not if they want to stay out of prison, nor do they have the English skills of a chimpanzee and a Hotmail address consisting of letters and numbers.

Yet, according to an article in The Weekend Australian, 50 000 Australians a year treat these things as if they are genuine. That's a thousand a week, one every ten minutes. People are gulled into sending thousands of dollars in "transfer fees" or "export duties" before the millions are transferred into their accounts. Or, if they are really stupid, they provide login details and passwords in order to make the process as easy as possible.

The article makes all sorts of recommendations, beginning with this: "Clip this handy guide to recognising scam letters and attach it to your fridge."

Nigeria must be a real haven for greedy bastards aiming to get something for nothing, yeah?

To my mind, the whole "Nigerian scam" phenomenon merely indicates that across the world, people are people. There are clever dicks and there are stupid chumps everywhere.

What it emphasises is that, despite our common humanity, the world's resources are unevenly distributed. A clever Nigerian does not have the career prospects of (say) a clever Australian. A profession, a secure lifestyle, a comfortable house and a healthy family are the prospects of an intelligent, dedicated, industrious child in the Western democracies, but for most of the world's youngsters, these are only dreams. The chances do not exist in the Third World, where nepotism, corruption and injustice have more to do with who gets ahead than do talent and skill.

Small wonder that clever but poor Nigerians will set their sights on rich but gullible Australians. It's a matter of global justice and fair shares - at least to the Nigerian scammer.

Doubtless the Nigerian authorities share these views, perhaps with their own share of the bounty.

In the end, I find it hard to lay the blame for these scams on Nigerian people. If there is cause and effect, the cause of these things lies in the rich nations of the West, content to keep their poorer cousins on the other side of the world that way.

Poor and distant. Why should we condemn our fellow humans so?
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