Made stupid to catch stupid

NZ Herald

Nigerian scammers make their letters ridiculous to weed out smart people, and trap the stupid people:

Nigerian scam letters include carefully designed flaws, complete with misspellings and pidgin English, in order to weed out the intelligent and leave only the most vulnerable targets, new research says.

Offers of millions of dollars from a Nigerian prince are intentionally unbelievable in a scam technique perfected to target the vulnerable, gullible and elderly, according to the study.

A research paper by Microsoft’s Machine Learning Department, entitled ‘Why do Nigerian scammers say they are from Nigeria?’, has found the formula is a cost effective way at “reducing the false positives”.

“Far-fetched tales of West African riches strike as comical… (but) our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage,” wrote principal researcher Cormac Hurley.

“Since his attack has a low density of victims, the Nigerian scammer has an overriding need to reduce the false positives.

“By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ration in his favour.”


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  • ConwayCaptain

    Wasnt a partner and his mates at Russel Mcviegh scammed by one of these

  • Kimbo

    Oh, ok. So now I have reference point to understand the campaigning strategy of Mana and the Greens

  • Guest

    Or, you pick someone who thinks they are too clever to be scammed, like Terry Serepisos.

  • Rodger T

    Well ,we are all getting scammed by the politicians ,so what does that make us?

  • Phar Lap

    So what was the difference between Nigerian Scams and NZ Finance company scams.Lets Go Blue Chip,Nathans,Bridgecorp.Canterbury Finance,Five Star.A few others i will not mention as they are known as subjudice.Seems to me perhaps the Nigerian scammers are really school boys in short pants compared to the NZs now in jail or on a waiting list to get there any time soon.Just recalling the honeyied words of the NZ scammers,”Have we got a deal for you,you, and you”,thank you very much for your kind donations you dont know how much we feel ,as we set you up for the big steal..

    • bristol

      I don’t agree. Difference is, the Nigerian scams are set up by criminals to deliberately defraud the gullible, and the greedy. Whereas it’s highly unlikely that failed, or currently viable NZ finance companies were set up to facilitate criminal intentions. Negligence, bad management, poor decision making with high risk ventures in an unstable economy would all have been contributory factors to inevitable collapse. Subsequent criminal activity would have been down to those involved trying to cover up mistakes, hiding evidence, continuing to trade whilst insolvent etc etc. This is why legal action has been taken against those involved. To my knowledge, no one has been convicted of setting up a finance company as a front for deliberate theft.
      Oh, and one other thing, something often overlooked is that greed is a two way street – this common denominator applies to all involved – whether it be the perpetrator, or the punter. Greed is greed!

      • Phar Lap

        So when is a crook not a crook ?Oh yes when he runs Blue Chip .Check out the court decisions.In most case outright criminal intent.If not why are they in jail.Good try.

        • bristol

          I’m not condoning the behaviour of certain people involved in defunct finance companies. Yes, they did wrong, but you may have missed my point. For example, Blue Chip’s Mark Bryers wasn’t prosecuted for setting up the equivalent of a Nigerian type scam operation, he was convicted for breaking Ministry of Economic Development laws relating to record keeping and failure to attend an investor’s meeting. He was fined $38,000 and sentenced to 75 hours community work.

  • Steve (North Shore)

    So that’s where ACC did the dough? Not the Stock Exchange, got fucking scammed by a promise of billions. The name Dyson comes to mind – about 2006?