I told Michael I wanted to interview his scammer friends. But I figured I'd be doing a public service by distracting the scammers from conning old folks for a couple hours.
He said there was no way that his dudes would talk for less than $600. So I offered $100 for a rare glimpse at the human faces behind the syntax-challenged spam. I sat down with Sheye and Danjuma* on the back patio of a fancy duplex in an upscale neighborhood in one of the country's main cities, and the two dished on their craft, constantly interrupting each other as they downed bottles of Nigerian Star lager and chain-smoked.
Though they lie for a living, Sheye insisted, "We are telling you the fact and the truth." Sheye and Danjuma have a name for the advance-fee email scams, in which victims agree to to send money to a stranger, banking on the promise of love or fast money.
He put himself through college, and after working as a Nigerian soap opera actor and door-to-door men's clothing salesman, he clawed his way into journalism.
Before that, he used to hang out with nomadic cow-herding kids, children who sell bottled water by the roadside, and budding scam artists.