WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — We have all received an email saying we have relatives of royalty in places like Nigeria where the sender asks for your banking information so they can deposit the inheritance into an account.
If you figured out this was a scam, then you are correct – it is a scam. While most are too smart to be fooled by this, others are. According to a new study, this scam targets stupid people.
The study conducted by Microsoft’s Machine Learning Department finds that the most naïve are prey to this.
“[T]he Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce the false positives,” Cormac Herley, principal researcher, wrote in the “Why Do Nigerian Scammers Say They Are From Nigeria?” study. “By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ration in his favor.”
Australia’s Herald Sun reports a Nigerian man was imprisoned for 12 years for scamming $1.3 million from people last year. They also report that an Oregon woman fell victim to this scam in 2008 and lost around $400,000.
This is nothing original, as this type of scam has been around for years. According to a New York Times article from 1898, the origin of the scam is called the Spanish Prisoner where swindlers would target foreigners to steal thousands of dollars.
There have also been plenty of other versions of this trick. One example is when a friend will alert you through his Facebook account that he is trapped in a foreign country and ask you to send money so he can come back home.