Microsoft Publishes Research Study on Nigerian Email Scammers

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Despite multiple warnings, it is astounding the number of people who have been deceived (and who are still being deceived) by Nigerian email fraudsters. Usually, these scams do not involve email phishing for credit card details or unauthorized online transactions on the individualโ€™s behalf or anything along those lines. But rather, the scams largely involve a close participation and cooperation between the subject and the scammer. Interestingly enough, the scammers are not afraid to say they are from Nigeria.

It may sound a bit bizarre, but Microsoft have published a research paper that gives a mathematical and statistical analysis on why Nigerian email scammers say they are from Nigeria as opposed to say, Sweden, or Holland or the states.

The study claims that legitimate messages incorrectly identified as spam (also known as false positives) cause all sorts of fraud detection technologies to be hopelessly impractical in reality. Moreover, attackers are also prone to the same problem. In deciding who to attack, true positives (the opposite of false positives) are targets that are successfully attacked, while false positives are those that are attacked but yield nothing.

According to the study, the reason why Nigerian Scammers say they are from Nigeria is because most of the times, stories of West African riches come across to potential targets as amusing. The analysis further articulates that …

“… it is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage.Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. 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.”

To find out more, you can download the entire research paper here.

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