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Nigerian email scammers scammed

When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news. - US journalist John B. Bogart (1848-1921).

A clever English "scambaiter" and his quick-witted colleagues have turned the tables on some of those obnoxious Nigerian email scammers, by conning them in the same way that the conmen trick thousands of gullible victims. Their strings of messages, posted on the internet, are hilarious.

In a classic case of man bites dog, the head baiter, Mike, claims to have tricked six different "419" email scammers into paying out amounts totalling more than $US1200. [4-1-9 advanced fee schemes derive their name from the section of the Nigerian penal code that deals with them. It's been estimated that 419 scams dupe Americans of about US$200 million each year.]

One of the scammers, calling himself Prince Joe Eboh, sent this picture (right) to Mike, who later added the derisive caption and posted it on his website.

"The perpetrators of Advance Fee Fraud (AFF) ... are often very creative and innovative," Mike says on his website. "They are thieves, liars, and generally very nasty.

"Please remember that these people are CRIMINALS and should be treated as such. Under no circumstances must you enter into any communications with these people unless you feel you are adequately prepared to deal with them.

"Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES give them ANY real private information about yourself. These guys may appear dumb and clueless, but I suspect it wouldn't be so funny if you were to come face-to-face with one of them."

Defining scam baiting, Mike says: "Put simply, you enter into a dialogue with scammers, simply to waste their precious time and resources. Whilst you are doing this, you will be helping to keep the scammer away from real potential victims.

"It doesn't matter if you are new to this 'sport' or a hardened veteran; if you're wasting the time of a scammer, or frustrating them in any way, well that's good enough for us."

Mike says he has now retired from cash baiting. Here's an extract from a "personal note" on his website:

Most people are aware on my views of cash baiting - scammers are fair game IMO [in my opinion], and I have no moral qualms about fooling a THIEF into sending me his money. Some people with a more blinkered view on reality may think that this makes me a thief also, but I always give my proceeds away to a worthy cause.

Let me be quite clear here; convincing even a scammer to send you money under false pretences IS illegal, and I have never argued against that statement, however, if I have to tread the legal line in order to inflict maximum damage to a thief who has in all probability stolen many many thousands of dollars from innocent people, then so be it.

Having said that, my days of 'cash baiting' are over. I did it just to show it could be done, and in a big way. Now I am moving on to more productive areas. The protection of members on this site is far more important to me than the extraction of a few dollars from a thieving piece of scum.

If you can spare the time, you'll be well rewarded by reading the full text of Mike's hilarious Tale of the Painted Breast. You can see a condensed version on a BBC website.




Story first posted February 2005

Copyright 2005

Eric Shackle

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