This week, a new pop song
hits the airwaves in West Africa with a highly unusual message: Don’t be seduced by cybercrime.
Cybercrime is a global issue, but perhaps no form of cybercrime has been more associated with a region than the advance fee fraud
collectively known as “Nigeria” or “419” scams (419 is the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud). Through schemes such as fake lotteries, bogus inheritances, romantic relationships, investment opportunities or – infamously – requests for assistance from “officials,” scammers promise an elusive fortune in exchange for advance payments.
West Africa is by no means the only source of these scams, but the region is stepping up to address their impact in a variety of creative ways.
419 scams have taken root in Nigeria’s popular culture. Scammers enjoy a rebellious, “cool” mystique, even producing songs and music videos that celebrate their own audacity. At the same time, 419 scam victims around the world are often stigmatized as naïve or gullible, which discourages many from coming forward.