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I just got my first 401 419 scam email from China. I can sort of understand how these emails might have worked three years ago, but at this point, everyone gets at least a few a day. This should breed a certain cynicism in the recipients. So who are all these people who have just gotten their first email accounts, and also, not watched any television or read any newspapers for the past five years?

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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