TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Email Spammers Face Jail Time Under New Nigerian Laws

Email Spammers Face Jail Time Under New Nigerian Laws

Camillus Eboh (
Wed, 19 Oct 2005 11:50:03 -0500

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria, home to some of the world's most notorious
cyber crimes, has proposed a law making spamming a criminal offence for
which senders of unsolicited emails could be jailed for at least three

The draft law identifies the use of computers for fraud, spamming,
identity theft, child pornography and terrorism as criminal offences
punishable by jail terms of between six months and five years, and
fines of 10,000 naira to 1 million naira.

Under the bill, which has to be approved by the National Assembly to
become law, convicted spammers face jail terms of three to five years
and could also be made to hand the proceeds of crime to the government.

"Any person spamming electronic messages to recipients with whom he
has no previous relationship commits an offence," said a section of
the draft law obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

Under the proposed law, service providers who aid and abet cyber crimes
and fail to cooperate with law enforcement agents could be fined between
500,000 and 10 million naira.

The draft law empowers law enforcement agents to enter and search any
premises or computer and arrest any person in connection with an

The advance fee email scam, known as "419" after the relevant section
of the Nigerian Criminal Code, is a computer age version of a con game
dating back hundreds of years and is sometimes called "The Spanish

Typically spammers send millions of unsolicited emails around the
world promising recipients a share in a fortune in return for an
advance fee. Those who pay wait in vain for the promised windfall.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has been keen to clean Nigeria's image as
a country of spammers and one of the world's most corrupt nations
since he was elected in 1999, ending 15 years of military rule in
Africa's to oil producer. President Obasanjo noted that "these people,
these spammers, have almost ruined any chance for Nigeria to compete
in the international community because of their deliberate cheating. I
will not permit our country to be ruined like that. From now on,
severe punishment awaits every one of them."

He set up the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2003 to crack
down on email fraudsters who had elevated scamming to one of the
country's main foreign exchange earners after oil, natural gas and
cocoa, according to campaigners.

The anti-fraud agency is investigating hundreds of suspects and
prosecuting over 50 cases involving about 100 suspects.

The agency got its first major conviction in July when a court
sentenced a woman whose late husband masterminded the swindling of
$242 million from Brazilian Banco Noroeste S.A. between 1995 and 1998,
one of the world's biggest email scams.

The agency signed a deal with Microsoft last week to help fight
spamming, phishing, spyware, viruses and counterfeiting. President
Obasanjo noted that "the fine American company Microsoft is going to
help us bring an end to this scourge against the citizens of our
country. Starting now, all spammers in Nigeria will go to jail. "

Copyright 2005, Reuters.

NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: It will indeed be good if Microsoft
takes a leadership role in helping this backward country (Nigeria)
clean up its act. PAT]

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