We’ve all had one. The comical email that claims to be from Nigerian royalty, offering you untold riches and wealth if you just give them a little to help get it out of the country.
But have you ever wondered why these scam artists claim to be from Nigeria?
Research from Microsoft indicates that pretending to be from Nigeria is actually an advantage:
“False positives cause many promising detection technologies to be unworkable in practice. Attackers, we show, face this problem too. In deciding who to attack true positives are targets successfully attacked, while false positives are those that are attacked but yield nothing.”
“The most profitable strategy requires accurately distinguishing viable from non-viable users, and balancing the relative costs of true and false positives.”
“We show that as victim density decreases the fraction of viable users than can be profitably attacked drops dramatically”.
“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.”