Sufficiently Formal

Akunna stared at the laptop. It was a good one, a Dell he’d gotten from the Kenyan. He thumbed his phrasebook, scratched his head.

“Come give me your opinion,” he said to Chimaobi.

“I know you will be surprised at the tone of my letter to you, as I wish to send you greetings and tell you of a surprising new business relationship that is a singular opportunity of your life,”  Chimaobi read from the screen.

“Is it sufficiently formal?” asked Akunna. “The sender needs to seem a man of great importance. A banker, perhaps.”

“I am not sure,” said Chimoabi. “I have never been in a bank.”

Kwento came back to the table holding a game board. “Come on, Chimo. Let’s play some Ayo.”

“What do you think, Kwento?” asked Akunna.

“It should be once in a lifetime opportunity, fool,” he said. “That is how bankers talk.”


What Pegman Saw

Many undergraduates in Nigerian universities dabble in internet fraud. Nicknamed “Yahoo Boys” (pronounced Ya-oo), scamming has become a way of life for the young con-artists. The Nigerian Prince scam is seen as a crude, low-return scheme by the more experienced practitioners. They have moved on to far more sophisticated cons that employ online dating, nanny services,  phishing, social media fraud and a host of other practices. 

The once-ubiquitous Internet Cafe is fast disappearing from Nigeria as wireless broadband makes cyberspace more accessible to everyone, including these fraudsters.



Add Yours
  1. k rawson

    How rich! At last the backstory on those emails is revealed. Wonderfully brought to life and the picture you found is priceless. Great storytelling.

    • J Hardy Carroll

      Thanks! I was picturing a trio of young men with a lot of time and not much opportunity hanging around the cafe all day playing ayo and trying to figure out how to get rich.

  2. Joy Pixley

    As terrible as the practice of scamming is, I’m quite amused by the conversation, trying to imagine how bankers talk based on what sounds like hearsay alone.

  3. pennygadd51

    I love Kwento’s comment that it should be ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ – spot on! And, by mentioning bankers, you take a nice satirical swipe at them; ‘Are they any better than these scammers?’ you seem to be asking. Which in the aftermath of the 2008 crash is a question worth asking!

  4. Dale

    Sooo good, Josh! They have gotten better and more sophisticated indeed in their scams.
    Brilliant choice of pic to go with your story.

  5. Lynn Love

    Princes of the internet cafe! I would admire them for their hutzpah – if they weren’t doing it by swizzing innocent folk out of cash! A clearly drawn and vivid scenario, Josh. Be interested to see where these young entrepreneurs end up next

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