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February 13, 2010

Non-American 419ers

I don't see every 419 scam that courses through the 'tubes, but of the ones I see, there is clearly a non-American focus to their pleas. By that I mean that the originators and writers of the scams don't have a good feel for things that would get more Americans' attention.

In the past, we've had phony lotteries supposedly associated with the 2006 African Cup. Today I saw another phony lottery winning notification claiming to be affiliated with the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The message included a (safe) PDF file that showed two distorted pictures: one of Nelson Mandela; the other of a pair of FIFA officials with their logo in the background. In particular, I got a laugh from this line:

Note: This program is being sponsored by the FIFA SUPPORT TEAM, to create awareness for the up coming 2010 FIFA world Cup, which is to be host by South Africa.

The problem for these crooks is that they try to appeal largely to gullible Americans (although Americans do not have a monopoly on being 419 victims) using a sport that has very low visibility in the USA. There is far more awareness here about the Super Bowl (American football), World Series (baseball), NBA Finals (basketball), and the Stanley Cup (hockey). On the other hand, it might be difficult to spin a story that explains why there would be a Dutch lottery associated with an American sports league (except perhaps trying the "create awareness" in other parts of the world).

But you know what? I think they could do it. After all, if they can get suckers to respond to a Nigerian woman dying of prostate cancer (yes, this 419 sob story actually circulated for a time), they can connect any two dots.

Posted on February 13, 2010 at 09:12 AM