They called these cons “Yahoo” jobs, pronounced Ya-OO.
In 2011, the FBI received close to 30,000 reports of advance fee ploys, called “419 scams” after the section of the Nigerian criminal code that outlaws fraud.
The agency received over 4,000 complaints of advance fee romance scams in 2012, with victim losses totaling over $55 million.
Ten years ago, Sheye and Danjuma, who are both in their mid-30s, say they could make up to 2 million naira—about $12,000—per Yahoo job, but the “US are very wise” now, Sheye says.
They typically only make about $200 per “client” these days, though they know other scammers who still rake in millions of naira through the email schemes.
He said there was no way that his dudes would talk for less than $600. So I offered $100 for a rare glimpse at the human faces behind the syntax-challenged spam. I sat down with Sheye and Danjuma* on the back patio of a fancy duplex in an upscale neighborhood in one of the country’s main cities, and the two dished on their craft, constantly interrupting each other as they downed bottles of Nigerian Star lager and chain-smoked.
Though they lie for a living, Sheye insisted, “We are telling you the fact and the truth.” Sheye and Danjuma have a name for the advance-fee email scams, in which victims agree to to send money to a stranger, banking on the promise of love or fast money.Nigerians aren’t the only ones committing international advance fee fraud, but nearly one-fifth of all such scams originate in the West African country.The scams often involve phony lottery winnings, job offers, and inheritance notices.Maybe…you need a black man,” he says, his down-sloping eyes very serious.At that point, the scammer will start to “give [the victim] a process,” promising to come visit her, but asking for money to take care of a few things first: “My car has problem,” or “My father is in Italy.It involves a taxi cab, a “juju man,” magic charms, and a huge bag of cash (and it’s way too complicated to explain here).