Hidden Data Sets, and Nigerian Email Meta-Scams

There are two thought-provoking pieces in the current New Scientist.

The first is on data hidden in rocks, the idea being that delicately balanced rocks in quake-prone areas are an untapped data set of the maximum strength of quakes in the area. After all, if you know how much force it would take for the rock to tip and fall down a hill, you have a rough upper limit on the largest quake in the era in recent geologic history. It is a great example of tacit data, a theme that I’m aggressively pursuing in financial markets investments.

The second piece is considerably more flip, but still interesting. Turns out that Nigerian scammers have come up with a clever idea: They’re apologizing via email for all the financial scams, and asking for bank information to send a payment for  the inconvenience. You have to be in awe.

Feedback has just received a letter from one Bello Ahmed of “EFCC
Prohibits Office” telling us, “The Nigeria Government has set side for
your compensation for all your past efforts and attempts to assist this
duped character.” Just tell Ahmed all the information you used in
sending money to the scammers, and the Nigerian government will give
you $150,000.

In case past losses have left you wary, Ahmed thoughtfully provides a link to the commission’s website, www.efccnigeria.org, which oddly fails to mention the compensation programme and uses rather better English than Ahmed’s letter.