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He said there was no way that his dudes would talk for less than 0. So I offered 0 for a rare glimpse at the human faces behind the syntax-challenged spam. I sat down with Sheye and Danjuma* on the back patio of a fancy duplex in an upscale neighborhood in one of the country’s main cities, and the two dished on their craft, constantly interrupting each other as they downed bottles of Nigerian Star lager and chain-smoked.

Though they lie for a living, Sheye insisted, “We are telling you the fact and the truth.” Sheye and Danjuma have a name for the advance-fee email scams, in which victims agree to to send money to a stranger, banking on the promise of love or fast money.

Once they've hooked you, the requests for money start.

I just returned from a reporting trip to Nigeria, where I was traveling around the country talking to terrorism experts, nomadic cattle herders, and government officials about how global warming affects conflict in the country. As a newswire reporter focused on the terrorist group Boko Haram, he was able to provide crucial context for my story.

But Michael* also grew up a “street boy,” meaning he was able to make fast friends in the slum villages and farming communities we visited.

If there was no password system, I wouldn’t have even been tempted by this scam. I had no real-life address or phone number for the police to check up on easily. Hey, let’s stop and do a search for “Western Union Scam Benin”.

Also, Western Union should give warnings to users as they make the transaction. Oh look, there are dozens of similar scam stories, with people specifically mentioning “Coutenou”, which is a city I was given in the payment details.

He put himself through college, and after working as a Nigerian soap opera actor and door-to-door men’s clothing salesman, he clawed his way into journalism.

Last modified 18-Apr-2017 04:31