National Fraud Prevention Month: The Nigerian Scammer’s Why

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing how others have avoided becoming a victim of the speaking scam due to my blog post outlining a years old speaking scam that nearly got me back in January 2012.

But if you knew the scammers reason why they’re participating in a scam, would you be less angry at them?

That’s the question I asked myself when one of the commenters, an American-based trainer and author, added to the comments area an email exchange he had with one of the scammers.

The American-based trainer and author, Bayo, happens to be Nigerian and was pretty upset that the speaking scam is being perpetuated by people in his homeland.

Bayo sent an email to the scammer letting him know that what he’s doing is wrong and that it’s putting a black mark on the reputation of all Nigerians. He got a reply where the scammer, who identified himself as Ola, said that Christian missionaries, corrupt politicians and constant war has made living in Nigeria unbearable.

Here’s what Ola says (and I edited for clarity – you can read the email exchange here):

“You can’t understand what people are going through here. If I tell you my story you would understand why I’m doing this. Do you think the people carrying guns are doing because they want to? No, many people are suffering in this country due to the selfishness of our leaders with all the resources we acquired. I just want you to understand one thing – I will never hurt my fellow Nigerians, but if I had the chance to get rid of all our corrupted leaders, I would have loved to do that. If only you could understand what your email means to me. I am crying while replying to your email. And I tell you – I regret being in this country.”

When Bayo asked why Ola was hiding his IP address (Bayo read my advice in the blog post and wanted to confirm that the email were indeed originating from Nigeria), Ola replied saying:

“In regards to the IP you are talking about I’m using another person’s IP just to hide my ass, but if you want to confirm [where I am], you can track my next email and see the IP. I can never use my own IP to send emails when I know I’m involved with fraudulent activities.”

Bayo admonishes Ola by telling him the following:

“Use your mind for something constructive. Work together for the betterment of humanity. We all face suffering. Be a real man instead of a faceless coward trying to scam through email.”

Bayo then adds the following to his comments to highlight why we shouldn’t be too quick to judge. I’ve reflected upon Bayo’s advice over the past few days. He says:

“Let this be an example of what is possible via our interconnected global online economy. When we look to the root cause of scams, instead of pointing fingers at all “those Nigerian scammers out there,” realize that they are part of our world just like you and me. Our world is filled with inequalities and danger. We [need] to understand and appreciate the [reason] why people do the unbelievable things they do. The least we can do is uncover the truth – start communicating and helping your fellow human beings to intelligently think their way out of their problems instead of throwing money at them or religion.”

I’m still sorting through my feelings about Ola’s reason for scamming people. On the one hand, like Bayo, I’m sympathetic to Ola’s condition. I don’t live in a country where bombs fly overhead or where my government could collapse any minute. Or where the average person bears arms while walking to the grocery store.

I mean, the biggest political issue right now in my city is whether to spend money on building more subways vs. surface rapid transit vehicles.

But had Ola:

  1. Said sorry
  2. Gave back all the money he stole
  3. Took responsibility for his choice to participate
  4. Offer to take down the other scammers he sits beside in those Internet cafe

Okay, maybe I’d feel an smidgen more sympathy for Ola.

But Ola NEVER did that. He’s a crook, a thief, a con artist. And unlike not wanting to rob his fellow Nigerians, he’s willing to rob me and other hard working, law abiding citizens of country’s Ola deems rich and well to do.

What say you?