Why are the Nigerian email scams so obvious?
Amazingly, this useful information comes from Microsoft: something of a first from that organisation:
“An email with tales of fabulous amounts of money and West African corruption will strike all but the most gullible as bizarre,” he writes. “It will be recognized and ignored by anyone who has been using the Internet long enough to have seen it several times. It will be ﬁgured out by anyone savvy enough to use a search engine [and] won’t be pursued by anyone who consults sensible family or ﬁends [that’s Microsoft’s typo], or who reads any of the advice banks and money transfer agencies make available.
“Those who remain are the scammers ideal targets,” the paper proclaims, as “A less outlandish wording that did not mention Nigeria would almost certainly gather more total responses and more viable responses, but would yield lower overall proﬁt.”
The basic argument is this: in order to be able to scam people out of their money you need to be able to find the stupid and gullible people.
So, what’s the best way of finding the stupid and gullible? Dressing something up so that it looks reasonable, would pass the usual sort of scam tests? Or presenting something that only the stupid and gullible could believe in the first place?
Quite, so the reason that the 419 emails are so outlandish that anyone with two brain cells can see they’re nonsense is because they’re actually looking for the people with only one brain cell.