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On the light side: social benefits of cybercrime.

You know all those e-mail messages you receive from high-ranking officials in the Nigerian government?  The people behind those messages are (indirectly) responsible for bringing Internet access to millions of Africans:

<quote>
The proliferation of cybercafes in Nigeria can be linked directly to the demand supplied by 419ers [con artists], who form the establishments' core clientele.  Walk into an Internet cafe in Lagos, and chances are that a good percentage of the terminals are occupied by men masquerading as Laurent Kabila's long-lost son or as a rogue official at the Central Bank of Nigeria.  The wiring of Nigeria is being propelled by 419 — much as America's appetite for porn helped shepherd the commercial Internet through its infancy.  AOL made it through its lean, early years only because of adult chat rooms and spicy picture downloads (which kept the meter running during the era of per-hour access fees).

Someday 419 will abate, when young, educated Nigerians have better economic prospects and foreign Internet users get it through their thick skulls that, no, you're not going to rake in millions by flying to Nigeria and fronting some stranger your life savings.  And when that day comes, there will be a thriving Internet culture for Nigerians to use for more legitimate purposes.
</quote>

http://slate.msn.com/?id=2072851

Alex Chernavsky
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Another Internet Cafe must have opened somewhere, I've had a mini-spate of 419s this week.

Although, I believe,  a good many of the scams are actually South African they just use Nigeria as a convenient hanger.

Simon P. Lucy
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

I wouldn't call it `social benefits'.

Here's the thing: Just because something is prototypical of a particular transition in a society does not mean that its a benefit! The transition from position A to position C may be benefitial, BUT, that doesn't mean that B is any better.

Consider sweatshops: These are pretty standard as a nation industrializes, and the transition from a poor society to a richer society with a higher standard of living is good, but that still does not excuse the exploitation of its people in the interim.

The end does NOT justify the means.

I don't think sweatshops and the Nigerian scam belong in the same category, but it's just too easy to excuse a con in this manner, if the end result is good. The end does NOT justify the means.

Mike Swieton
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Why 419?

David Clayworth
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

"Why 419?"

Ddidn't click on the link, eh?

.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

The Register is now selling a T-Shirt with the words "419 - My money all went to Nigeria and all I got was this lousy T-shirt"

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, October 30, 2002

" Consider sweatshops: These are pretty standard as a nation industrializes, and the transition from a poor society to a richer society with a higher standard of living is good, but that still does not excuse the exploitation of its people in the interim.

The end does NOT justify the means."

Don't forget that America had sweatshops too.  We didn't become a superpower over night.  Generations of Americans worked their asses off to get us where we are today.

Is it wrong that more developed nations are buying goods and services from these smaller developing countries?  If we didn't buy things, who would?  NO ONE.  Then the poor developing country would stay poor.

It's easy for you to critisize sweatshops, because you have that luxury.  If roles were reversed you'd probably think differently.  You'd welcome the new factory in town because you would be able to work and improve the quality of life for your family.

Steve H
Thursday, October 31, 2002

The workers in sweatshops do not like it.
They usually do it because they have no choice. And the reason is because the big western corporations are completely profit driven. They could pay the seatshop workers a good wage, and have safe working conditions, and it would add no more than a couple of dollars to the cost of a pair of running shoes.

David Clayworth
Friday, November 01, 2002

That's a complete load.

These jobs are generally amongst the most sought after in these countries.  The reason these people tolerate the harsh conditions is because these jobs pay a great deal by their standards...and the alternative for many (including the children) is prostitution.

Dunno Wair
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

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