Why Are Scam Emails Written So Poorly?

 In Food for Thought

Have you ever received an email from a so-called Nigerian prince? They are harrowingly attempting to smuggle wealth out their nation, and need a foreigner’s help. Others will say you are the beneficiary of an unbeknownst distant relative’s will, who happens to be an exceedingly rich monarch with no immediate family and millions of dollars waiting to be claimed. However, a transfer fee is necessary before the funds can be moved in your bank account. There are many versions of this scam, and they can be quite elaborate, but all require money upfront before the affairs can be settled.

They are not specific to Nigeria, but the nation has become synonymous with the ‘advance-fee’ scam. It’s also referred to as a 419 scam, which refers to Nigeria’s criminal code dealing with fraud. The name of the scam isn’t as important as how many of these scam emails are oddly written in a similar way: atrociously. These emails are riddled with poor grammar, spelling, and syntax. People assume this lack of a grasp on the English language is a dreadful over-commitment to a character. Nigerian royalty write politely and proper, but obviously English is not their first language. How could anyone believe this written garbage? Almost everyone who would read it would close and delete the email, or pass it around with friends for a chuckle. And that is exactly what the scammers want you to do.

This can be explained through the concept of a ‘false positive’. These cyber-criminals send a lot of emails out to their would-be marks. In fact, the number of their outbox can be in millions. Spam accounts for 45% of all email on the internet. So many people receive these emails before deciding on whether to delete the email or write back. Replying to a scammer will take up their time, as they attempt to convince you to part with your hard-earned savings. This is why they write so horrendously, to separate out the cunning from the most gullible people. They’re not writing content to entice many savvy potential customers.  They are seeking a true positive – someone who can be easily manipulated. Afterall, they only have to dupe one person to steal thousands of dollars.

So what’s the best course of action next a royal family member of a foreign nation reaches out to you? If you have spare time, respond. Scam-baiting is a particularly niche hobby of some fine internet heroes, conning the cons to frustrate and waste their time. The next best thing is education. If you believe any of your family or friends may not be wary of this kind of fraud, explain it to them and check their spam filter. These scammers prey on our most vulnerable members of our communities.


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