Nigerian letters fuel Lagos's Internet Cafe boom

Nigeria's Internet boom is being driven by 419 fraudsters.

Heartless as it may sound, there's a silver lining to the digitization of 419. The proliferation of cybercafes in Nigeria can be linked directly to the demand supplied by 419ers, who form the establishments' core clientele. Walk into an Internet cafe in Lagos, and chances are that a good percentage of the terminals are occupied by men masquerading as Laurent Kabila's long-lost son or as a rogue official at the Central Bank of Nigeria. The wiring of Nigeria is being propelled by 419--much as America's appetite for porn helped shepherd the commercial Internet through its infancy. AOL made it through its lean, early years only because of adult chat rooms and spicy picture downloads (which kept the meter running during the era of per-hour access fees).

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(Thanks, Chris!)