Discursive Features of Nigerian Online Ponzi Schemes’ Narratives
Keywords:Ponzi schemes, digital deception, internet scam, discourse analysis, linguistic strategies
Although Ponzi schemes have existed since the 1800s, contemporary financial challenges have rejuvenated them while the Internet has enhanced their proliferation, particularly in developing countries. The present study analyses select discursive features for digital deception in Nigerian online Ponzi schemes. We identify the use of stance and linguistic engagement, formulaic expressions and politeness strategies, narrativity, naming, and lexical range as techniques used by scheme creators. These linguistic and discursive choices are wielded as tools to attract customers and, ultimately, to deceive. The overt propagation of financial gains has underlying ideological implications, as it projects a sense of communality and encourages financial leverage which are in turn exploited to con unsuspecting – often greedy – subscribers. We conclude that language use in Ponzi schemes is intentionally crafted to appeal to diverse individual sentiments, particularly within developing economies where poverty is widespread and people seek to make money through any means in order to survive.
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