YOU WOULD THINK that after decades of investigating and combating email spam, there’d be a fix by now for the internet’s greatest hustle—the Nigerian Prince scam. There’s frequently more information that a West African noble demanding $1,000 in order to send you millions is a scam, but the underlying logic of these “pay a little, get a lot” schemes, also known as 419 fraud, still captures a ton of people. In fact, groups of fraudsters in Nigeria continue to make millions off of these classic cons. And they haven’t just refined the techniques and expanded their targets—they’ve gained minor celebrity status for doing it.
On Thursday, the security firm Crowdstrike wrote detailed findings on Nigerian confraternities, cultish gangs that engage in various felonious enterprises and have steadily evolved email scam into a reliable cash cow. The groups, like the disreputable Black Axe syndicate, have mastered the creation of compelling and credible-looking fraud emails. Crowdstrike notes that the groups aren’t very regimented or technically sophisticated, but flexibility and camaraderie still allow them to acquire powerful scams.
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