A 419 Fraud Story

Patient as fishermen, the young men toil day and night, trawling for replies to the emails they shoot to strangers half a world away. Most recipients hit delete, delete, delete, without ever opening the messages that urge them to claim the untold riches of a long-lost deceased second cousin, or offer millions of dollars to help smuggle loot stolen by a corrupt Nigerian official.

But the few who actually reply make this a tempting and lucrative business for the boys of Festac, a suburb of Lagos in Nigeria at the center of the cyber-scam universe. The targets are called maghas - slang from a Yoruba word meaning fool.