He needed to look at the Problem as a crime problem. He also should have asked someone at AFI about the issue.
"[requires] considerable inventiveness and mastery of a language that is non-native for a majority of Nigerians."
I apologise if I'm over-reliant upon, and only have the time for, empirical evidence.
Herley's paper had a very narrow scope. It didn't explore the use of language beyond what was quoted (somewhat out of context) in the post above.
I will agree that scammers are at various levels of intelligence but the bell curve is very skewed to the right. I would be the last person to argue that the bell curve is static. It is changing. It always changes. However, I feel that the vast majority of 419 scammers are at the low end of the ...knowledge curve. It is the same with any fraud and it takes work to stay ahead in the game. I think that parsing scammer language for anything other than humor (http://antifraudintl.org/showthread.php?62404) is a waste of time but I am willing to be proven incorrect.
I think one problem with Herley's paper is that the focus is far too narrow. Scamming is not limited to Nigeria, it's all over West Africa in particular. It's also found wherever there is a Nigerian diaspora. But Herley told me in an email that I didn't understand his paper anyway. Since it's so dense I'm not surprised. I think I still have to disagree with his hypothesis.
We work in counterfraud as a hobby but we are very good at it, especially if we've been doing it for a long time. Herley's research might be better if he had contacted more people who actually work with scammers and their victims rather than rely entirely on mathematical models.
And, JoeNinety, this is a discussion thread. I think everyone is trying to understand your point of view and Herley's while explaining our own. This isn't personal and it isn't to question your background or qualifications. Although we are not certified "professionals", this is what we do and what we do seems to work for law enforcement. I work with victims every day and I work with scammers every day and I've been doing this for 7 years and I don't get paid for it. I do this because I care.