419: Nigerian e-mail scams


If you've never received an email from a Nigerian prince asking for a small loan -- then you probably don't have a computer. There are lots of people who wish they never had a computer after the Nigerian scammers got through with them. We talk to the author of a new book on this scam that turns out goes back decades. And find out why something so obviously too good to be true still sucks people in.

Part Three of The Current

The 419 Game: Nigerian e-mail scams

We started this segment with the Nigerian hit I Go Chop Your Dollar. Some of the words may be unfamiliar, but he's singing about the 419 scam. Chances are, that will sound plenty familiar.

419 is another name for the scam that begins with an email asking you for a loan or your bank information to help out a deposed President of Nigeria. He promises to pay you back with plenty of interest once he gets out of his financial difficulties. The con has netted hundreds of millions of dollars and destroyed the lives of many people caught up in the scam. And in 2009, the BBC went to Nigeria to try to find out who's responsible. And this is one serious game.

The dark and dangerous world of the Nigerian email scam is the backdrop for Will Ferguson's new book 419. Will Ferguson joined us from our Calgary studio.

The 419 Game: Nigerian e-mail scams

We started this segment with the trailer for the movie The Informant starring Matt Damon. The movie tells the story of Mark Whitacre, a one-time Vice President with the U.S. grain giant Archer Daniels Midland and how he went from being an FBI informant to being arrested for stealing millions from the company.

According to Whitacre, his crimes began when he got caught up in the Nigerian 419 scam. Mark Whitacre is the President of Operations at Cypress Systems Inc. He was in Pensacola, Florida.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.

Last Word - Edmund Hillary

We've been talking today about the journey to the roof of the world. One of the reasons so many climbers are attracted to Everest is because it really does test the limits of human endurance. But imagine how difficult the test was in 1953 for the beekeeper from New Zealand and his Sherpa guide.

There may or may not have been others before them, but Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to find a way to the top and live to tell about it. Thousands have since followed in their footsteps.

On today's Last Word, we hear from Hillary on a CBC show from 1954, remembering just how difficult it was to place some of those footsteps.

Other segments from today's show:

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