Top ‘Nigerian prince’ email scammer arrested – USA TODAY
Scam letters in Nigeria are nothing new.
Theyâre commonly known as the 419, says Sam Olukoya, a journalist based in Lagos.
Part of the reason why the malware-hacked emails are so popular in Nigeria is because theyâre inexpensive to construct.Â With almost 61%Â of the Nigerian population in poverty, it also makes for easy money.
âThere are so many people trying to make a business out of this. Itâs quite a thriving business. One, itâs so easy to establish you just need a few hundred dollars to buy a computer, to buy internet, to buy data and thatâs business,â Olukoya says.
Despite the frequency of scamming emails in Nigeria, one skillful conÂ artist stands out. The head of a multinational network was arrested Monday in the capital of Nigeriaâs River State, Port Harcourt.
The network was headed by a 40-year-old Nigerian known as “Mike.”Â The network,Â composedÂ of over 40 individuals spread across Nigeria, Malaysia and South Africa, was behind global scams worth more than $60 million.
âYou can understand how elaborate this type of scam is, if somebody has made $60 million, that doesnât come easy,â Olukoya says.
âHeâs believed to have hacked into the accounts of some medium- and small-scale establishments and using that to ask people to pay money to accounts which he controlled,â Olukoya explains. âThese people were assuming that these accounts belonged to the companies they have been dealing with.â
His operations used malware to take over systems, fake email accounts to ask businesses for money and romance scams.Â According to Interpolâs website, it is believed that one fraudulent transaction by Mike and his associates landed them $1.5 million.
Even though Nigeria isnât the only country to conduct advance-fee frauds, 51%Â of it comes from the western African country,Â according to a Microsoft report.
Across the internet, these scamming emails are known as the subject of a meme: the Nigerian Prince,Â a common type of social engineering scheme that includes a so-called Nigerian royal figure soliciting the reader to transferÂ thousands of dollarsÂ with the promise that they will reward them with a larger sum in the end.
Hereâs how one would start, according to theÂ Washington Post:
DEAR SIR, I am Prince Kufour Otumfuo the elder son of the late King Otumfuo Opoku ware II whose demise occur following a brief illness. Before the death of my father, King Otumfuo Opoku ware II, I was authorised and officially known as the next successor and beneficiary of my father’s property according to African Traditional rite. â¦
Olukoya receives these types of emails every day. One text message asked him to call a number to “reactivate”Â his ATM card for a bank account he didn’t own.Â He recognized it as a scam, but others aren’t so lucky.
“I imagine that so many people would have called the same number. What he would have done was he would have been able to get the details on the card,” Olukoya says. “When he gets the details, he will definitely empty their bank account.”
This article originally appeared on PRI.org.Â Its content was created separately to USA TODAY.
MORE FROM PRI.ORG: