They rationalize the crime by telling themselves there are no real victims: Maghas are avaricious and complicit.
To them, the scams, called 419 after the Nigerian statute against fraud, are a game.
Their anthem, "I Go Chop Your Dollars," hugely popular in Lagos, hit the airwaves a few months ago as a CD penned by an artist called Osofia: "419 is just a game, you are the losers, we are the winners.
White people are greedy, I can say they are greedy White men, I will eat your dollars, will take your money and disappear.
"He said, 'The houses I own, I got it through all this.' And they're not just ordinary houses. The money he had, the cars." Eager to impress his new boss, Samuel worked for six-hour stretches extracting e-mail addresses and sending off letters that had been composed by a college graduate also working for Shepherd.
He sent 500 e-mails a day and usually received about seven replies. "When you get a reply, it's 70% sure that you'll get the money," Samuel said.
After noting Samuel's speed and skill, the crime boss, nicknamed Shepherd, invited him to his mansion to try extracting e-mail addresses using search engines.
The e-mail scammers here prefer hitting Americans, whom they see as rich and easy to fool.It is where places like the Net Express cyber cafe thrive. until 7 a.m., so the cyber thieves can work in peace without fear of armed intruders.The atmosphere of silent concentration inside the cafe is absolute, strangely reminiscent of a university library before exams. In this sanctum, Samuel says, he extracted thousands of American e-mail addresses, sent off thousands of fraudulent letters, and waited for replies.When you get a reply, its 70% sure that youll get the money, a former scammer says.(Sunday Alamba / AP) FESTAC, Nigeria — As patient as fishermen, the young men toil day and night, trawling for replies to the e-mails they shoot to strangers half a world away. But the few who actually reply make this a tempting and lucrative business for the boys of Festac, a neighborhood of Lagos at the center of the cyber-scam universe.
They seized thousands of foreign and Nigerian passports, 10,000 blank British Airways tickets, 10,000 U. money orders, customs documents, fake university certificates, 500 printing plates and 500 computers. Though the fraud is apparent to many, some people think they have stumbled on a once-in-a-lifetime deal, and scammers can string them along for months with mythical difficulties.