419, Will Ferguson


2012 Giller Prize winner. A story based on cases of fraud known as the Nigerian scam. Have you ever received an e-mail from someone claiming to be a Nigerian person of importance in need of assistance to get a large sum of money out of Nigeria? The scam consists of having the gullible target pay some fees in the process of getting the money out. I have also received a similar message from someone claiming to be a lawyer from Malaysia. If you do a quick search on the web, you will find many examples of these scams. A blog I ran into also talked about how the so-called Nigerian scam was not always perpetrated by Nigerian nationals but by people from a variety of locations.

In Will Ferguson’s story, the scammer is in Nigeria and we see the events unfold from his point of view as well as that of several others in Nigeria. We are also told the story of a Canadian victim and his family. The victim’s daughter travels from Calgary to Nigeria to confront those she perceives as responsible for her father’s death. She returns from this trip with a new understanding of what may have driven her father to act the way he did and with some degree of acceptance of for the way things turned out instead of the anger that had originally filled her.


Ferguson, Will. 419. Penguin Canada, Toronto, 2012.


One response »

  1. Sylvie,
    My sis-in-law got caught with a related scam. She was selling an antique dining set that she no longer had the room for on Kijiji, and the guy who wanted to buy is was from somewhere in Africa. He sent her the “bank draft” which was duly processed and appeared to be legit, but then he got back in touch with her to say that he was having trouble securing the shipping. They wanted someone domestic to put down the deposit. Would she do it? She was a little suspicious, but the guy’s money order appeared to have cleared, so she figured it was ok. Not so.
    She put down the deposit, only a couple of hundred dollars on a several thousand dollar shipping job, but the next business day, the money order bounced, and she was charged for an NSF transaction. Then the shipping company appeared to disapper from the internet overnight, and she lost that money too.
    Of course, this was only a small version of fraud, but the sis-in-law wasn’t so well-off that she could afford to lose even a couple hundred dollars. ther was a reason she was selling that antique set.
    Thanks for posting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s