Dreamgun's Back In Town. Photo: Screen grab
Published 9 years ago · Last updated: August 15, 2006

…because now it seems they’ll rob you blind.

Tommy Tiernan makes that joke about countries taking all the priests out of Ireland and leaving nothing in return. Now it seems that sending your old computers to Africa will leave you nothing in return.

I think we’ve all gotten the emails at one stage from the lonely wife of some dead Nigerian warlord or Minister for Finance or President Unga Mumba Wazoo asking for a few bank details so they can wire you twenty million euro for a few hours just to get the money out of the country with trails of “the money was only resting in my account…” echoing somewhere in the distance.

But according to the BBC it seems now that thousands of UK residents have been hit by fraudsters in Nigeria who are scanning computers when they arrive for bank details. Clever too. A lot of people are unaware of information they leave on their hard drives when throwing a computer in a skip or giving it to a charity and wouldn’t think twice to delete any data on it. Likewise then there are people who will think to delete a few files or even wipe their hard drives but a little bit of work can go a long way in terms of getting all that data back and if you’re living in Nigeria, twenty bucks will give you access to that said data.

The report issued around this story found that many of the computers sent out came from local government recycling points.

With all the news lately about data retention and data leaks, do you think there should be some initiative in place to protect people who are giving away computers? Maybe a leaflet programme on showing people how to erase data, or for a small fee (like a fiver), have a location at local government level where someone will “wipe while you wait”, thus ensuring that there is no personal data on your machine before you ship it off to Africa?

Written by Ken McGuire
Runs Event Media and The Devious Theatre Company and writes about food at Any Given Food. You'll find me on Twitter here and here.