Weird History

The 'Nigerian Prince' Scam Is Actually 200 Years Old

Email scams remain a fact of life in the digital era. While spam filters do an admirable job of keeping the more dangerous ones out of inboxes, online hoaxes, like the infamous Nigerian prince scam, persist. And these scams don't simply prey on people with a lack of internet knowledge, as they've existed for over 200 years. 

People have been falling for get-rich schemes for about as long as humans have existed. Advance-fee swindles, including the Nigerian prince variant, rely on a person's desire to get a lot for only a little effort, while playing on both their ignorance of the world and drive to do good.

It's no surprise they're so successful, but their interesting history shows exactly why we're still falling for the same old lie centuries later.