Why Nigerian 419 Scam Emails Suck

By Deane Barker on December 2, 2014

You know how when you get a Nigerian scam email, and you read it, and you’re like “who the hell falls for these?”

I wondered, so I tweeted that I’d like to see a good content strategist re-write on of these emails to be super effective.  Someone responded and pointed me to this study from Microsoft: Why do Nigerian Scammers Say They are from Nigeria?.

There’s a lot of math and stats in there, but here’s the gist – they’re designed to suck, so that they only attract the most gullible people.

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 ratio in his favor.

If you’re still on-board after reading a pitch that bad, then there’s a good chance you’ll stay on-board all throughout the long process to separate you from your money.  People who can instantly sniff out a scam are low-payoff targets, and waste the scammer’s time.