Are Nigerians Scammers?
When someone introduces himself to you as a Nigerian, what is your impression about him or her? Do you immediately doff your cap of suspicion, readjust your seat, and engage all your security consciousness? But what if the Nigerian you are dealing with is an innocent fellow, probably more honest than an average European or American? Did I hear you say impossible? Well, you have reasons to take that stance. You have heard and read a lot about Nigerians’ escapades with peoples’ resources. Many have been swindled by Nigerians; enough sensitize you against losing the guard when you are dealing with one.
The recent bans on Nigeria are good proof for any doubting Thomas about the Nigerian character. While no one would want to hail the US decision to include the most populous black nation in the list, caution is in order if the news about con activities of Nigerians is anything to go by. The nation is always in the news for the wrong reasons. If it is not about insecurity, it will be about bad governance, outright embezzlement or mismanagement of public funds, and corruption to mention a few.
The worst of it is all sorts of fraud that the African sleeping giant is connected with. But wait a minute! Could these noising and bombilation not be fanning furore from white supremacists threatened by the potentials of Nigerians who find themselves in better-organised societies? It is better to view this matter with the lens of fairness.
To answer the question titling this discussion in a balanced manner devoid of any prejudice, three more questions are in order. 1. Are there scammers in and among Nigerians? 2. Are all Nigerians scammers? 3. Are there scammers from other countries who are worse than Nigerians? 4. Are there good Nigerians who are excelling in their chosen legit profession worldwide, probably advancing the course of countries that where they live? Let us analyse these questions and find a balance spot to hold.
Are There Scams in Nigeria
Even the dunce and the most gullible person knows that scam thrives and flourishes in Nigeria. The land is a fertile ground for the menace. It is all too easy to be scammed as there is low access to public information. The database is virtually non-existent. The unemployment rate is skyrocketing becoming one of the highest in the world. There is multifaceted corruption in high places and sharp practices in the commercial and educational sectors.
Fraudulent practices are just the norm in such a clime. It is not understandable then that the tendency to be involved in fraud is rife in the land. All forms of fraud ever known to the world have perpetrated in the country.
The most notorious one that gives Nigeria a bad reputation is the advance-fee scam, also known as 419. It is a type of confidence trick involving promising the victim a large share of money in return for an up-front payment to facilitate the access to the bigger sum. The words, 419 and 419ners are common in Nigerian society and used as when referring to scamming, scammers, conmen, and duping or being duped.
This scam has come to be known as the Nigerian Scam or Nigerian Prince Scam, not because it originates in Nigeria, but because it is commonly used by Nigerians worldwide. Other scams making waves in Nigeria are employment scams, lottery scams, pet scams, online, and sales rental scams, romance scams, and mobile tower installation frauds just to mention a few. Nigerian youths have given another designation to the internet fraud (and fraudsters), namely yahoo (yahoo boys/girls).
Yes, that is the fact in Nigerian society anywhere Nigerians live, whether home or abroad. However, is the appalling picture painted above enough basis for stereotyping? That will be for a strait-jacketed and narrow-minded individual. An objective thinker will like to see Nigerians 100 percent to have a well-rounded understanding of the Nigerian spirit. And that brings us to the next question.
Is Every Nigerian a Scammer
The facts speak for themselves. If all Nigerians are scammers why do foreign nationals ply their trades in Nigeria? Statistics show that foreign multinational corporation competes favourably with Nigerian firms in Nigeria. Despite the Local Content Acts and other government incentives to promote local businesses, multinationals rake billions of dollars from Nigeria to their countries every financial year. Chinese, Japanese, Indian and almost all European firms and others from the US and Americas see Nigeria as a viable market.
These companies either set up production/assembling plants in Nigeria or export tonnes of container to Nigeria. Firms even in Asia and fellow African countries do not believe they have succeeded in their internationalisation policies if their presence is not yet felt in Nigeria. Now, if every Nigerian is a scammer, who do these companies sell their goods and services to? From whom do they buy raw materials and spare parts? Whose services do they engage and whose merchandise do they buy to live and work in Nigeria? You guess they did not bring all those things and those people along from their respective countries.
One more fact that is usually downplayed is the uncommon acts of transparency and impressive honesty being displayed by many Nigerians. A recent example of this is that of a bank security man, Nkem Otto, who returned a sum of 10 million Nigerian naira that a bank customer who mistakenly left in a locker. We have read about other bank customers who reported money mistakenly credited to their accounts. Things like this happen frequently in this country.
A popular story was that of Abiodun, a senior waiter in a big Nigerian hotel, who found a bag of cash containing the equivalent of 1,827 USD while locking up the hotel banquet hall one evening. He did not hesitate to turn in the money which was later claimed by the owner.
Nigerian Airport cab operators have provided unsolicited help to foreigners travelling with huge cash. School children have turned in wallets and other monies lost and found. These are just a few examples of how Nigerians have shown themselves to be transparently honest.
There are thousands of Nigerian footballers plying their trades in over 100 countries of the world. How many of them have been caught in any fraud case, or even in tax evasion? And tax evasion is a common scam. There are thousands of doctors, attorneys, teachers, accountant and other professionals who are of Nigerian descent in all corners of the earth. Most of these live above board.
It is obvious then that not all Nigerians are scammers. In fact, Nigeria has the strongest criminal code proscribing all forms of scam and 419. The expression “419” was derived from a military decree number 419 proscribing advance-fee fraud under the pain of death over 30 years ago. The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) have strong legal backing to prevent and treat charges of scam.
Scammers Worse Than Nigerians
While Nigeria is the nation most-often referred to in scams, there are scammers from other nations. For instance, 2006 statistics traced 61% internet scammers to the US, 16% to the UK, and only 6% to Nigeria. Ivory Coast, Togo, and South Africa are other African nations with a high incidence of 419. European countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, and Poland have also bred scammers and a lot of Jamaican, Mexicans and other scammers have originated in America as a whole.
So as far as the scam is concerned, while Nigeria is full of scams, the country is some little fish in a large ocean. There are big boys and real scam lords that Nigeria scammers are small in comparison to. These guys have made billions of dollars in their illegal business. They are into what the most notorious “successful” Nigerian scammers are not yet dreaming of. These guys are teachers of Nigerian scammers and have worldwide syndicates.
No security is too complex for them to compromise. Securities of countries’ databases are not strong to them to break. All passwords are simple to them. They can hack any institution’s entire security.
Proportionately, Nigeria is nowhere close to being the scam capital of the world. Mexico, Romania, Vietnam, Malaysia, Colombia, and Brazil all have higher scam rates than Nigeria. Consider: If there are 25 Nigerian scammers to 5 Romanian scammers, which country would you conclude have more scammers? On the surface it is Nigeria. However, comparing 19 million population of Romania to 200 million in Nigeria, you will realise that Romania has on average, more scammers than Nigeria.
Even though the Nigerian figures are high, per capital crime rate according to several findings places Nigeria out of the first 10.
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Nigerians Excel in Their Chosen Profession Worldwide and Eschew Scams
Whenever Nigerians find themselves in a society where there are opportunities, they have been known as industrious and creative rather than resorting to scamming. Research shows that most of the recent bachelors’ degree holders from American universities are Nigerians while average Americans do not have the drive and inclination to further their studies.
The culture of the majority of Nigerian tribes and ethnic groups are averred to scams. This is because their traditional religions frown at it and punish the offender with great severity. The Nigerian scammers are found among those who embrace the two major foreign religions—nominal Christianity from the West and Islam from the East. It is the hypocrisy of these religions that ignites the passion for fraudulent practices encouraged by bad leadership and the economy.
One fact is clear; it is hard to scam a Nigerian living in another country. They do not easily release sensitive personal data, so forget about identity theft. Even when dealing with public officials, their social security numbers, card numbers, and anything that gives others access to their finances cannot be easily gotten. With this attitude, they have been the best financial security experts and best network administrators for companies where they are employed. They have successfully insulated their employers against such fraud.
What Can We Conclude?
From the facts above, it is obvious that there are many scammers in Nigeria, but not all Nigerians are scammers. There are worse scammers in countries other than Nigeria. At the same time, there are upright Nigerians throughout the world carrying out their legit businesses. The population of Nigeria is huge, so the number of every good and bad in the country is expected to be. This is not an indication that they have the worst, and by the same token, the best of everything.