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He said there was no way that his dudes would talk for less than 0. So I offered 0 for a rare glimpse at the human faces behind the syntax-challenged spam. I sat down with Sheye and Danjuma* on the back patio of a fancy duplex in an upscale neighborhood in one of the country’s main cities, and the two dished on their craft, constantly interrupting each other as they downed bottles of Nigerian Star lager and chain-smoked.
Though they lie for a living, Sheye insisted, “We are telling you the fact and the truth.” Sheye and Danjuma have a name for the advance-fee email scams, in which victims agree to to send money to a stranger, banking on the promise of love or fast money.
(They insist that tricking people is not the same as stealing.
“We don’t thief,” Danjuma says.) They told me about one elaborate scam, called (or “Let’s go” in Igbo, one of the languages spoken in Nigeria), that they occasionally pull on their countrymen.
They called these cons “Yahoo” jobs, pronounced Ya-OO.
The two say they own homes worth about a quarter million dollars each.
The Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is tasked with cracking down on con men like these. The duo says they are able to skirt law enforcement because they have a lot of people on their payroll. They estimate that 30 percent of their earnings go to what they call “security”—that is, the payment of bribes.