Life as a Second Class Citizen of the Web

I just bought 3 domain names from GoDaddy. No, that is not news, the news is that I had to use a US based VPN before the purchase went through. (the VPN made the godaddy server think I was browsing from the US).

The first 50 times I tried making this purchase, it kept giving me the error “unable to process”. After doing quite a lot of Googling I saw that all purchases form Nigeria are flagged automatically. (No prize for getting why). So I went and setup the VPN and the purchase went immediately.

Of course I should have used Paypal but my account has kept getting locked ever since I returned top Nigeria from the UK. Even after sending them a scanned copy of my passport, my little cheese has remained trapped. So whenever I have had to make payments on sites that take only Paypal, I ask someone in the UK to do it for me.

Essentially, any purchase made from Nigeria is deemed fraudulent until strenuously proven otherwise.

What this means is that, those lovely stories about you creating a little webapp and slamming a Paypal button is fantasy if you are doing it from here. We are not allowed to participate in global ecommerce. If you think making payments with your own money is hard, try receiving. Without  payments there is no commerce so we are left out.

I am writing this post just to let everyone know that I will kill a cute little puppy when next I hear the West give that look of pity and say lets bridge the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world.  Don’t fucking worry about bridging the digital divide, just level the playing ground!


I cannot ignore two very fair arguments.

  1. The amount of fraud from this end has necessitated these measures.
  2. Hey! That’s a gap in the market, why don’t you guys in Africa do something about it?

Fuck off.

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21 thoughts on “Life as a Second Class Citizen of the Web

  1. Hehehe.

    Yo bro, I feel you. It’s frustrating and feels unfair but you can see their point even if the reaction is out of the park!

    There is an opportunity here and we should exploit it.

  2. In Nigeria, there can’t be more than 1 out of 10 000 people responsible for the avalanche of 419 -and other scams, but it is the 9 999 other ones who pay the price. Nigeria has now been blacklisted in every possible way. Even a country like Honduras, or other Nowherestan country, will blacklist Nigerian passports and everything else Nigerian. Welcome to the long-term consequences of a series of very unfortunate, short-term decisions. This is the true cost of the 419 scams.

    1. Nigerian hosts aren’t blacklisted because of 419 scams. They’re blacklisted because an incredible amount of credit card fraud originates in Nigeria (Ghana is the other major culprit). Unfortunately, merchants bear the brunt of this fraud since fraudulent credit card processing almost always comes back to the merchant in the form of chargebacks (not only do merchants lose the money, but merchants can also be fined by the card vendors or even have their card processing accounts terminated). The only recourse is to take a big hammer to the big sources of the problem.

      For what it’s worth, I expect to see the same thing happen to hosting providers. That’s another huge source of fraud, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see major vendors start blocking all card transactions from IP ranges associated with providers like DreamHost, Amazon, SoftLayer, etc.

  3. they’ve stolen domains from me, even after paying premium services.
    they’re not singling you out because you’re nigerian, but because you’re abroad and presumably unable to drag them to costly litigation in the U.S.
    I agree they are the most unethical domain service provider in the world.

  4. Number one.

    My girlfriend has her gmail account stolen by scammers this week, they also sent a message to all of her contacts saying that she is crying and lost in a foreign money and needs money to be sent to her via Western Union.

    It took us two days to handle the situation and everything seems fine now, but we don’t really know how much of her personal data did the scammers steal – in theory they can now use her address book and her personal e-mails for many malicious reasons.

    Guess where the scammers were from.

    Somehow I don’t hear a lot about Chinese scams or Indian scams although that countries have even larger and poorer populations than Nigeria. Can you tell me why?

    I’m Polish, so I also suffer from some US sites blocking the access for foreigners. But you have no sympathy from me. If the problem is so rampant then your people should do something about it. Until we stop hearing about Nigerian Scams so much people will assume that you are not doing enough to prevent it. Why would you – I guess the scammers bring a lot of money into the country.

    Embargo is a peaceful solution to countries that do not adhere to international law & standards. I am all for that in this case.

    Now – it is possible that I’m an ignorant fool and your country is fighting hard to battle 419 scammers. I would like to hear some more on that efforts. Can you tell me where can I report the scammers that cracked my girlfriend’s accounts? (i’ve got their IP addresses and a fake e-mail they are using). Can you direct me to some articles detailing how your government is handling the problems? Can you tell me how people react to finding out that somebody is a scammer?

    If I would find out that my friend is a scammer (or a thief, or that he killed somebody) then he would stop being my friend that moment. I would probably also report him to the police. I guess you too, but what about most of people in your country? This is not a rhetorical question – please tell me.

  5. One more thing – I just read about your other post: “A cure for Nigerian Internet Scams”. It makes a lot of sense and I’m all for it (although I still wouldn’t mind an embargo on Nigeria until the scammers problem is fixed).

  6. That’s a bad situation but it does suggest an interesting opportunity for someone based in the U.S. or similar settings to develop relations with folks like you and act as their representative for needed services.

    Not sure how that would work but I would hope some smart entrepreneur would see the possibilities in building such an enterprise.

    Hang in there. I’m struggling myself here in the States. Wish I could do more to help.

  7. My friend runs a global online calling card business and all the fraudulent purchases have been by Nigerians, living in either Nigeria, UK or USA.

    If you want PayPal to work in Nigeria, how about you start preaching to your thieving brodas.

  8. On top of 419, I believe a big reason for processor/merchant denial is that Nigeria has no practical system for collecting on bad debt. In the USA and Europe if you don’t pay your credit card bills this not only gets reported to credit bureaus (very pervasive and powerful compared to weak and nascent in Nigeria), the debt you owe is sold to 3rd party collection agencies who hound you, and you can get hauled into small claims court (which is efficient and mostly fair). In much of sub-Saharan Africa if you legitimately owe someone or some business money and don’t want to pay there are few repercussions. These collection agencies do not exist and judicial solutions are problematic. Credit — and credit cards — function in a robust ecosystem, which took time to develop.

  9. It’s not only Nigeria, many American companies make it impossible to do anything if you don’t have a US ip address and bank account. You’d think the country didn’t have a trade deficit 🙂

  10. And not just that, but you get to deal with this problem for years afterwords. Here in Serbia we still get warnings that companies don’t deal with our country, as it’s under UN sanctions, but it really was 15 years ago (during the fall of ex-Yugoslavia and civil wars that followed). Someone forgot to update the list, and since we are a small market, it just goes unnoticed…

  11. Help your government get rid of the spammers and other criminals abusing the internet, causing everyone else so much trouble – much more trouble than forcing legitimate people from Nigeria to validate their identity before they can boy domains that may be used for criminal purposes.

    Getting on the Internet and access to the rest of the world should be a privilege for people who can be trusted, not a right for every criminal.

    That said, there should be a system to validate and recognize legitimate business people in Nigeria so people like you can getthe same access as the rest of us. Is there any non-corrupt agency in Nigeria that coild handle such a task ?

  12. You only hear about Nigerian scams because the western media calls ALL scams “Nigerian Scams”.

    And then we hear that they’ve caught the person sending one third of all the scam emails and he’s RUSSIAN!

    Give me a break okay. Just because the media says something doesn’t mean it’s true. The NUMBER ONE source of all scams on the Internet and in the world is the United States followed by Russia and it’s surrounding countries (Ukraine and co).

    Nigerians just get the bad reputation because we’re an easy target for everyone to stick the blame on. It’s totally a case of give a dog a bad name and hang him.

    Most Nigerians are too busy with their lives to sit around scamming unsuspecting (not to mention GREEDY) westerners.

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