According to mainstream media reports, “Microsoft founder Bill Gates met Nigeria’s president this weekend for talks on fighting poverty and disease on the world’s poorest continent, a senior official said Sunday.”

Of course, the nation of Nigeria is synonymous with email scams that clutter inboxes, promising vast elicit fortunes in exchange for putting up some money in complicated, shady plots. The frauds are known as “419” scams after the Nigerian criminal code, or “advance free fraud” because the dupe is asked to advance money. In Nigeria, 419 scams are so much a part of the culture that some say it is the poor African nation’s biggest spectator sport next to soccer, and responsible for a significant portion of the Nigerian economy. Some dupes have even flown to Nigeria for in-person meetings, and ended up victims of kidnappers, who extort yet more money.

So if Bill Gates, the internet zillionaire and guru, is going to have a conversation with the government of Nigeria, maybe he should be making pointed inquiries about what this nation can do to stop 419 scams, and how his company can help. After all, if Google can make a deal with the nation of China for search engine capabilities that are “acceptable” to the repressive Chinese government, you would think Bill Gates could come up with a way to use technology to intercept and disrupt all the fraudulent activity which originates in Nigeria.  

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