Security Journal

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 208–225 | Cite as

You can trust me: a multimethod analysis of the Nigerian email scam

  • Timothy RichEmail author
Original Article


How do scammers invoke trust within the Nigerian email scam and how do recipients interpret such trust-laden offers? Rather than view the email content as static, this article suggests that the emails strategically appeal to trust as a means to enhance susceptibility. Content analysis of over a half-million scam emails reveals that references to trust language are most common in larger award claims and those claiming to be from Africa. However, experimental evidence suggests that trust language within scam letters has minimal influence on respondents’ perceptions of the letter. This analysis expands our understanding of the psychology behind the scam letter format and suggests means to further combat email fraud.


Nigerian email scam Trust Content analysis Experimental design Perceptions 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political Science DepartmentWestern Kentucky UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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