By Ayo Abiola
How often are you told of the “Nigerian scam letter”; the letter that offers you millions in fortunes, by doing nothing except to send your account details to some “prince” under persecution in Nigeria. This prince then transfers the money through your account and, you will be awarded a commission usually in the range of millions. Of course, there is really no ‘money’ as it is all a ploy to rob you of yours. This is the kind of letter that has come to be dubbed Nigerian Scam Letter or Nigerian Fraud.
The question is if it is right to associate this crime with a Nigerian identity. Some people will insist it is Nigerian – simply because they have either bought into the stereotype or fallen victim of such scam. In a previous article, I described the Spanish Prisoner letter of the 1800s which follows a similar pattern of crime – at a time when Nigeria never existed as a country. Also, other keen investigation of such crimes have been traced to other countries as well – as far as China!
It is important to combat scam as it is a criminal act that not only robs people (innocent and greedy people alike) of their money, it also threatens global financial stability; especially at this time of financial turmoil. How bad is this stereotype against Nigerians, you ask? It is bad enough that corporations; including Sony (who makes millions in Nigeria) once used the stereotype to sell their games. The popular US sitcom, The Big Bang Theory once captured the Nigerian scam stereotype in Season 4, Episode 19 of their show – by mentioning a certain “Nigerian Prince” who is a scammer. The gimmick of the show’s creator was to refer to the episode number (4:19) in reference to Nigerian scam which others have ignorantly called 419. However, ‘419’ is a positive number which labels a section of the Nigerian Constitution that states:
Any person who by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud, obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen, or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years…
So, ‘419’ does not represent fraud. ‘419’ is a Nigerian mandate against fraud. This is why I especially liked the contribution of the Forbes Contributor, Peter Riley and his 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria. Like every law abiding citizen of this world, Nigerians are also active in the fight to combat fraud. So, let’s stop these stereotypes and simply combat the crime. There is no such thing as the “Nigerian” scam.
Watch the video below:
Video by: I am Nigerian.
Article by: Ayọ̀ Abíọ́lá, Team Strategist.