An insider's look at the rise of Nigerian 419 scams

Published date27 January 2020
Date27 January 2020
Subject MatterAccounting & Finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial crime
AuthorRichard G. Brody,Sara Kern,Kehinde Ogunade
An insiders look at the rise
of Nigerian 419 scams
Richard G. Brody
Department of Accounting, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque,
New Mexico, USA
Sara Kern
School of Business Administration, Gonzaga University, Spokane,
Washington, USA, and
Kehinde Ogunade
Department of Accounting, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque,
New Mexico, USA
Purpose The purpose of thisstudy is to examine and provide additional insights into Nigerian419 scams.
Such scams may also be referred to as advance fee frauds. This study not only provides a historical
perspective as to why these scams continue to remain popular and successful but also addresses cultural
issues andtechnological issues associated with thistype of fraud.
Design/methodology/approach The analysis is primarily conceptual, focusing on the historical
underpinningsof 419 scams as well as changes that have occurred as a result of technological advancements.
Further, an active Nigerianscammer agreed to be interviewed by one of the authors and the information has
been incorporatedinto this paper.
Findings Fraudsters in Nigeriause a more scienticapproach to identifying victims.The Government
of Nigeria has been implementingsome new policies and techniques to identify these fraudsters as well as to
attempt to curtailsuch fraudulent activities. Unfortunately,these attempts have had limited success and more
will be neededto slow down 419 scammers. The total elimination of such scamsis unlikely.
Originality/value Although many 419 scamshave been reported in the news, actual studies in this area
are quite limited. Further, currentresearch has not produced comprehensive papers that focus on why these
frauds ever started, howthey have developed over time and how technology has impacted such frauds.This
paper is among the rst to include insideinformation from an actual Nigerian scammer and thus adds
signicantvalue to the existing literature.
Keywords 419 Scams, Advance fee fraud, Nigerian scams
Paper type General review
In November of 2018, Michael Neu, the middleman in a Nigerian Princeemail scam, was
apprehended in Slidell, Louisiana. Neu was charged with committing 269 counts of wire
fraud and one count of money laundering. Authorities believe that the various scams in
which Neu was involved had hundredsof victims and resulted in over $250,000 being wired
to co-conspirators in Nigeria. Perhaps what is most shocking about this case is that Neu
turned out to be a 67-year-old man serving as an intermediary for the Nigerian internet
scammers. Although it is known that such scams are common and thatthe losses are in the
millions each year, it is rare that the perpetrators are caught (Caron, 2017). Although such
scams are not new, they have evolved over time and this shocking case raises the question:
how did we get to this point? This paper will answer this question and provide a historical
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.29 No. 1, 2022
pp. 202-214
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JFC-12-2019-0162
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