Wednesday, September 14, 2005

419 Eater: Scamming The Scammers

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Looks like there's a use for all those emails from Barrister Magimbo Mgumba after all...

Do you ever wonder what would happen if you answered those pesky emails from Nigeria that clutter up your inbox day after day? You know somebody does, or else the scammers wouldn't bother sending them out.

At this very moment there is undoubtedly some poor soul parting with his money and dreaming of what to do with his share of the '$40 Million us dollers' from the estate of Mgumba Mgumby. On the other side of the world, the scammers are secure in the fact that they are more likely to get hit by an asteroid than be prosecuted for their crimes.

Scam Baiting

But that doesn't mean that scammers never get their just deserts. There's a growing number of scam baiters out there...that's people who pretend to be duped by the scam but instead intend to mess with the scammers as much as possible.

This means doing things like:


  • wasting their time with endless emails back and forth
  • getting embarrassing pictures of the scammers and posting them on the web
  • get them to reveal information that can be turned in to authorities
  • setting up face-to-face meetings with the scammers but never showing up
  • and in some rare but hysterical cases actually getting the scammers to send out their own money to the 'victim' of the scam


What It Looks Like

Want to see some scam baiting? Here's some from the site 419eater.com:

The Godfather: scammer upsets the mafia - this one involves a scammer claiming he needs money to develop a mineral deposit in Nigeria. Little does he know he's gotten in the middle of an Italian Mafia feud between Don Pizza Pepperoni and Don Spaghetti Bolognese!

The Road To Nowhere -this one is kind of long but is a must-see. It involves some scammers who jump through hoop after hoop thinking they're fooling their 'victim' into handing over a huge sum of money. See the emails, listen to the phone conversations, and watch the video of the scammers getting duped time after time. Funny as hell.

Tragedy Strikes At Western Union -you'd think someone who makes a living from scamming people out of their money would know better than to send a stranger $718 in the hopes of getting more money back...guess not!

The Sad Part

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While it's good to know that at least some scammers are getting their karma, the fact remains that these 'Nigerian 419' conmen trick innocent people out of billions of dollars every year without having to worry about being prosecuted.

Yeah it's natural to think 'well only an idiot would fall for these scams', but (idiot or not) regular people get duped every day. The lady in the picture above is Pam Krause of Almond, Wisconsin. She thought she was helping a desperate mother in South Africa but instead was swindled out of $18,000.

Often the scams are run by groups with operatives in multiple countries. They have been known to beat, kidnap for ransom, or even kill the victims of their scams. No matter what you think of those who fall for 'Nigerian 419' scams, you have to admit that they don't deserve to have their money stolen or something even worse happen to them.

More:

Wikipedia on scam baiting.

Scamorama -scambaiting site.

Ebola Monkey Man -scambaiting site.

419 Zeros -scambaiting site.

Artists Against 419 -the world's largest database of 419 websites (fake banks, fake lotteries, etc).

Scammers Exposed

The Nigerian Letters

Anatomy Of A 419 Scam -the true story of how a person from the US lost $1,000 to a UK-based 419 scam.

'Nigerian Scams Keep Evolving'

A news story about scam baiting.

The victim of a 419 scam shoots a Nigerian diplomat.

Here you'll find places that offer support for victims of 419 fraud.

Urgent Message -a large scam letter archive.

Snopes on the Nigerian Scam.

An updated database of Nigerian Scam-related news articles. Warning: it has music.

You too can become a Nigerian email spammer!

Listen to an NPR story on scam baiting.

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