An Investigation into the Origins of 419 Spam Mails

Abstract. We examined current trends in the 419 spam mail malaise and the origin of these fraudulent electronic mails. By modifying the sinkhole aggregation methodology in real-time as proposed by Abhinav et al (2008), we activated e-mail accounts and used them from locations outside the West African Coast, specifically in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Canada. This gives a broader aggregate of spam originating from multiple origins and domains heading for different e-mail boxes. Our intention is to ascertain if there are variations in the content and genre of electronic mails received from spammers by victims outside West Africa. Although these spam e-mails are generally believed to originate from Nigeria and some West African countries, the analysis of electronic mails received in the in-boxes set up for the experiment using available e-mail and internet protocol address tracers provided new and exciting results that deviates from the generally held believes and cast some shadows on widely held opinions on the origins of 419 mails. We conclude the paper with recommendation for research, policy and practice and provide direction for future works.

Keywords: Spam, Spammers, 419 Mails, Nigeria, Africa, Tracers, Origin


Longe, O.B., Mbarika, V., Jones, C., Anadi, A., Wada, F., Onifade, O.F.W., Longe, F.A. and Dada, G. (2010) Can Any Good Thing Come from Nazareth” – An Investigation into the Origins of 419 Spam Mails, Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on ICT for Africa, March 25-27, Yaounde, Cameroon. Baton Rouge, LA: International Center for IT and Development.

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