It is where places like the Net Express cyber cafe thrive. until 7 a.m., so the cyber thieves can work in peace without fear of armed intruders.The atmosphere of silent concentration inside the cafe is absolute, strangely reminiscent of a university library before exams. In this sanctum, Samuel says, he extracted thousands of American e-mail addresses, sent off thousands of fraudulent letters, and waited for replies.He thinks disclosure of his surname could endanger his safety.
They rationalize the crime by telling themselves there are no real victims: Maghas are avaricious and complicit.
To them, the scams, called 419 after the Nigerian statute against fraud, are a game.
Their anthem, "I Go Chop Your Dollars," hugely popular in Lagos, hit the airwaves a few months ago as a CD penned by an artist called Osofia: "419 is just a game, you are the losers, we are the winners.
White people are greedy, I can say they are greedy White men, I will eat your dollars, will take your money and disappear.
ONLINE: Nigerians use computers in an Internet cafe in Lagos.
Scams known as 419 for the statute outlawing them promise the victims riches and romance.
When you get a reply, its 70% sure that youll get the money, a former scammer says.
(Sunday Alamba / AP) FESTAC, Nigeria — As patient as fishermen, the young men toil day and night, trawling for replies to the e-mails they shoot to strangers half a world away. But the few who actually reply make this a tempting and lucrative business for the boys of Festac, a neighborhood of Lagos at the center of the cyber-scam universe.
Most recipients hit delete, delete, delete, delete without ever opening the messages that urge them to claim the untold riches of a long-lost deceased second cousin, and the messages that offer millions of dollars to help smuggle loot stolen by a corrupt Nigerian official into a U. The targets are called maghas — scammer slang from a Yoruba word meaning fool, and refers to gullible white people.
Samuel is 19, handsome, bright, well-dressed and ambitious. Until he quit the game last year, he was one of Festac's best-known cyber-scam champions.
Like nearly everyone here, he is desperate to escape the run-down, teeming streets, the grimy buildings, the broken refrigerators stacked outside, the strings of wet washing.