The People Who Get Revenge On Spammers

By Mike Devlin on Wednesday, September 11, 2013
typing
“Trust me, Wilbur. People are very gullible. They’ll believe anything they see in print.” —Charlotte, Charlotte’s Web

In A Nutshell

The “Nigerian prince” Internet scam costs unwitting victims millions of dollars each year. Bringing these shadowy figures to justice on distant shores has proven nigh impossible, but there are people dedicated to getting revenge on the scammers, luring them into schemes that range from the ridiculous to the potentially lethal.

The Whole Bushel

We’ve all gotten them: strangely worded e-mails promising untold riches if only you invest a little seed money. There are dozens of variations on the theme, but the premise is pretty much the same: Someone knows of a vast fortune (such as the wealth of an overthrown king), but they need money to access it. For your contribution, you’ll be rewarded handsomely, typically with 10–40 percent of their take. Most of us discard these e-mails without a second thought, but these scams rely upon volume. Dozens of young men will crowd cyber cafes in Nigeria, constantly shooting out messages and waiting for replies. If they send 10,000 e-mails, surely someone will be gullible enough to follow through. These victims are called “maghas,” a Yoruba slang word for “fool.” (23)

It is impossible to get a bead on the true extent of the damages caused by the scam, but estimates by the US Secret Service claims “hundreds of millions of dollars” is lost every year. Interestingly, there are some people that enjoy messing with scammers. These folks, called “scambaiters” employ various techniques. Most of the time, this merely involves endless e-mails chains and false promises that get the scammers to waste their time and resources, keeping them away from victims they might otherwise successfully fleece. Others will send along nasty computer viruses. But there is another breed altogether, whose plots are as hilarious, sinister, and bizarre as anything dreamed up by Hollywood.

One scambaiter managed to get a scammer to handwrite the full text of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by claiming to be a researcher studying “Advanced Handwriting Recognition and Graphology” and offering $100 per page of writing samples. Another man managed to trick a scammer into joining the fake “Church of the Painted Breast” (sending photographic evidence of his holy commitment) and send him $80 in cash. Perhaps the most awesome trick happened in 2008, when members of the scambait group “419eater” convinced a scammer to leave Nigeria and travel to war-torn Abeche, Chad to pick up his (nonexistent) money from a Western Union.

Show Me The Proof

Turning the tables on Nigeria’s e-mail conmen
Harry Potter & The Well of Scammers
U.S. Internet fraud at all-time high: ‘Nigerian’ scam and other crimes cost $198.4 million
Nigerian Cyber Scammers

  • arto

    Once I trolled for a few days a scammer who wanted me to send him my visa card information . He eventually gave up.

  • Phil_42

    I do a similar thing with those people who ring my home phone and tell me my computer has a virus and i need to download a program that would give them remote access to my computer. My record is keeping one of them on the phone for 1 and a half hours.

  • James Lando Deltoro

    I like to mess with bill collectors who call my phone and not knowing they have the wrong number. You can feel the rising rage in their voice as they know they have a certain way that have to act and not use the bullying tactics bill collectors were known to use that ware now illegal.

  • Brp Goyo

    I got some of these, asking a phone number for “proper conversation means”. I gave them the number to a morgue xD

  • ScepticSid

    My favourite one was the scammer who was tricked in to reproducing Monty Pythons Parrot sketch in order to get an art grant.

  • dfizzo

    I keep getting what I can only assume are Nigerian scam style emails…but they are written in German.

    I do not speak German, I have NEVER spoken German, I cannot imagine what indicates I would remotely understand German.
    Note to spammers: sending emails in a language your recipient cannot understand is NOT likely to lead to success.

  • cire

    now this gave me an idea. haha

  • Exiled Phoenix

    I talk to them while jacking off.

    • P5ychoRaz

      Now that’s using your head.

      • Exiled Phoenix

        lol, It is amazing how fast they want to let you go when they ask “Do you have a minute sir” and your response is “Sure, I’m just choking the chicken and you have a sweet voice”

      • Valkyrie

        Both of them -_-

  • gillybean

    A dude in the UK got his own back on the companies that were constantly calling his landline with automated messages by making his number one that you get charged to ring! I thought it was great! For the first few days, before they realised what he did, he made £80 in call charges! Some officials went on tv advising that this was not the way to deal with the issue but, hell, it worked better than their regulations. Hi5 to the little guy getting revenge every now and again.

    • http://listverse.com/ Jamie Frater

      I read about that last week – it was a great idea and obviously one that worked well too.

  • Jack Shen

    I used to answer telemarketing calls in my best Chinese accent “oooohh, saw-we, myyy … myyy … Engrish …no so good”. And they would apologize and remove my number.

  • Jacob Shaw

    By far my favorite for the telemarketers is to answer with “City morgue.” Slaughterhouse works too. If they insist on talking follow up with something really sick like being in the middle of necrophilia. Guaranteed hang up.
    Or if you don’t have the stomach for that, ask them to read out their terms of service word for word and leave them talking to themselves.

  • Adnan Bhuiyan

    Scambaiters are pretty cool. Maybe we can call them low level “Internet heroes” because they are smart enough to lure a scammer into a war beaten country.

  • Ryan Palmer

    Yes I got reeled in a little until a thing called google images looked up a pic in seconds I was on a dating site met this hott girl and talked on and off all day she never asked for money but I got the sob story her dad died she was on her own boo hoo you know all of that and by the end of the day she was saying she loved me an wanted to come here and marry me, that night I found out she used a porn star’s name from Canada haha no wonder she was hott so I decided to turn the scam around on her I told her I was buying a ticket from Murtala Muhammed International Airport @ Lagos,Nigeria to Hartsfield International Airport here in Atlanta, Georgia, for her and I would send her money Western Union to pay her debts there before she left Ooo she was putty how dumb and she was gonna scam me This is just part of the email I dropped on her hahaha HOW DOES IT FEEL WHEN YOUR SCAMMED NOT TO GOOD I BET,,, YOU PICKED THE WRONG GUY THIS TIME,,LAST NIGHT I LOOKED AT THE PICTURES THEY DIDN’T LOOK RIGHT ,, THERE’S THIS THING CALLED GOOGLE IMAGES THAT LOOKS UP ANY PICTURE IN SECONDS,,,, ADVICE DONT PICK A PORN STAR FOR YOUR PICTURE DUMMY,,,,, KARMA WILL GET YOU FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO PEOPLE LIKE ME,,SO YOUR NAME IS,,, CUMISHA JONES,,,PORN STAR,,, FROM CANADA YOU LOOK REAL GOOD IN THE PICTURES I SENT,,, I sent porn Pic’s of her doing nasty things ,,,,sweet revenge for everyone who has got scammed by them Nigerians,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, I was lucky on my 1st scam attempt Ryan Palmer