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The 419 Code as Business Unusual: Youth and the Unfolding of the Advance Fee Fraud Online Discourse

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One issue that has launched Nigeria into international réclame and public ignominy, especially in the last decade, is the Advance Fee Fraud (a.k.a. '419'), a code which refers originally to the section of the Nigerian Penal Law that deals with specific fraud schemes. The paper located the economic and socio-political upheavals in Nigeria from the late 1970s as the leverage for the advent and consolidation of fraudulent schemes. It demonstrated how youths have increasingly appropriated the Internet as a gateway to the world and as conduits for information enhancement, economic empowerment or a means to achieving their own ends. Through a careful analysis of 150 documented scam letters, this paper describes the emerging variations of a theme. As a transnational organised crime, this paper demonstrates how its increasing complexity and sophistication, with the target audience of individuals and corporate bodies within the domestic and international frontiers, has attracted local-global security attention and action. The paper concludes that the changing anatomy and the elasticity of the criminal transnational networks can be better grasped, and the preventive measures by individual, government and corporate security agencies prove efficacious, when understood and located within local-global contexts and wider operational frameworks.

Affiliations: 1: University of Edinburgh


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