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?

  • Deepak Morris

    I say there can never be an excuse to behave dishonestly. So Ola’s government isn’t good. So he’s scrambling to stay alive. By trying to scam others, he simply buys into the system. Yes it’s hard to take a moral stance. Yes, he can easily be killed for doing so.

    My question is, what is he doing to expose his government?

    Scamming others is scarcely protest. On his deathbed – so close, as he claims it is – will he WIN?

    • http://leesabarnes.com Leesa Barnes

      Love your perspective (I miss it from our Ryze days), especially when you say “scamming others is scarcely protest.” How true is that…

  • Marty Croll

    No matter what, I don’t excuse or successfully justify taking something from someone as being moral or ethical. It just is what it is, a result of the way character deals with conflict between what they want and what they have. My character shows in everything I do and so does Ola’s. It speaks loudly and clearly. I love Nigerians, but not all are like Ola in their decisions and thought processes. Thank God!

  • http://www.vbookerbrown.com/ Vonetta

    Great post, Leesa. And hard times for someone, IMO, doesn’t give them an excuse to scam others. (On the other hand, what if Ola thought, “I know how it felt to be victimized, so I’m going to make a conscious effort to not put anyone else through that”?)

    At the same time, I notice that “Nigerian” is becoming synonymous with “scam” for many people and in the media (not you, Leesa–just saying in general :) , and I’m uncomfortable with that. Just like any other group, there’s good and bad amongst them. I have some Nigerian friends whose families migrated to the US–and they are all about entrepreneurship, making strides, higher education, etc. (a high number of doctors & lawyers amongst them).

  • Concerned blogger

    Hmm, How thrilling! But before you point an accusing finger at Ola (I’m directly referring this to Leesa) for been a con artist, a thief and other horrible names you called him, Why don’t you try living in Nigeria for one month without the luxury of your Canadian dollars, your affluent friends and of course, your comfortable home! See if you can survive one month in the hustle! You do not know what it looks like, When foreigners go to Nigeria, they take them to the highbrow areas where Politicians, technocrats & so-called ‘Men of God’ reside, then they believe all is well in Nigeria not knowing 80% of Nigerians live on less than a dollar a day!
    If most Americans, Canadians and citizens of better countries today who are technocrats and entrepreneurs were breed in Nigeria, they will do worse things than Ola! They will steal, maim, carry guns and rob people of their possession in broad daylight, and there are women and girls with more intelligence and potential than Leesa who are whoring away on the streets of Nigeria just to make ends meet. What you people have is luck! and opportunity for been born into a country that provides, nurtures and supports each individual, mere luck! So who are you to judge people! If God had made it the other way round and you were born here, you wouldn’t know the comfort & luxury you know now so who are you to condemn Nigerians!
    Only a few percentage are successful and the few young ones who are successful today come from affluent homes! there is virtually no space for the common man, You have a Nigeria friend who travels to Miami to see the beach every summer and you judge Nigeria by this? Do you think Americans issues visas to the common man in Nigeria? Only people from affluent homes (their parents are the same politicians & their cohorts that embezzle our money) could afford the luxury of summer camping in Nepal and holidaying in New York.
    All I am saying is! do not judge! I read your blog about the Bishop Jarrow scam and I actually know the Nigerian who perpetrated this crimes, He is in remorse but he will die of hunger if he doesn’t go back to scamming people, now you see the catch? You can’t quit cause you will starve to death, there is no plan to engage people in legal work, Over 1million graduands from College and just about 10,000 jobs, so what does the other 990,000 people do in an environment no conducive for even starting a business! Most youths feed their aging mom and their growing siblings with the proceeds of this little scams! Yes, it is as bad! because there is also no plans for the old
    So people privileged people run their mouths why some people are bad, they should try been in their shoes first. Most Nigerians scammers are brilliant people who come about innovation every day, they will use these brains for better things if given the chance! So please, if you were a victim of scam in the past, I cannot help that I am sorry, when you can afford to eat 3 square meals in day some struggle to before they could get 1, So see the little funds you have parted with in the past as Charity, Charity to the motherless under oppression.
    MAY GOD BLESS US ALL! AND JUDGE US ACCORDINGLY! Not humans!

    • http://leesabarnes.com/ Leesa Barnes

      Your response must be a joke. Has to be. The irony littered throughout your comments is laughable. The only response I have, if you even deserve one, is simply that the no matter the human condition, there’s no excuse to participate criminal behaviour. None.

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