So, 419. What is it? The term comes from law or section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code and refers to African fraudsters who email random strangers, claiming to be:
- A civil servant in the Nigerian Ministry of Finance
- A barrister needing help with a confidential financial matter
- Prince Jonathan Makalumu of an obscure African tribe
- The Reverend Noah Okwinja, representing a church building project
For those fans of Channel 4’s Fonejacker series, think: George Agdgdgdgwngo. “Wire the monies.”
Some people truly believe the fairy tales the 419ers tell them. Most people just delete the mails. Some respond angrily. Others decide to have a bit of fun at the 419ers’ expense.
Now, here’s where the cultural differences kicks in. Let me explain.
Germans would immediately email the 419er, telling them,
“Ich bin bewusst dass Sie Betrüger sind. Ich werde der Polizei melden, den Behörden melden. Das, was Sie machen, ist absolut unzulässig…”
etc etc etc.
The Brits? We Inselaffen just love to “have a bit of laugh,” especially when it involves pulling the wool over the eyes (bescheissen) of bloody foreigners.
The approach? Fight fire with fire, bullsh1t fraudster story with bullsh1t story. One Brit has made it his hobby. The aim is three-fold:
- Have a bit of a laugh
- Annoy and waste the time and money of the 419er
- Obtain contact details of the 419er to share with other anti-fraudsters for the purposes of crime prevention and general p155-taking.
- Bonus points for getting the 419er to be photographed in the stupidest of poses, eg holding a loaf of bread and bottle of wine.
- Bonus points for getting your anti-419er friends round the world to phone the 419er’s mobile phone all round the clock and generally make his life a misery.
My favourite anti-419er story is this one. Our hero gets the 419er to have a very silly slogan tattooed on his arm. Permanently tattooed. May God bless you, my friend. I feel as if you are already my elder brother. Let me tell you about Western Union money transfer.