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Scambaiters
"This is really a very interesting adoption of culture, isn't it?" -- that was Kerleone's comment on the Nigeria Connection (See our older stories.) back in 2002. The advance fee fraud scheme (that has been in existence through regular postal mail for more than 20 years) via e-mail now is internationally known as 419 Scam -- so named after Nr. 419 of Chapter 38 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act which applies to it. As we reported, the problems with those frauds from Nigeria, which exist since about 1989, grew bigger, the conmen scored big wins and serious incidents have taken place: People who have been lured to Nigeria have been abducted or even murdered. Police forces all over the world go for lengths to fight the scammers: "In one month alone, in the summer of 1995, [U.S. Secret Service] agents extricated seven U.S. victims from Nigeria, though one American was murdered [...]" Apart from this dramatic 'real-life' efforts authorities and others have public education material about 419 online. Nevertheless, maybe due to the nature of the internet or humanity itself, the scamming goes on.
P.T. Barnum once complained: "You can't cheat an honest man." -- at other times this saying is attributed to the king of con-men, Joseph R. "The Yellow Kid" Weil. By that logic, if a greedy person is a good target, a professional con-man makes the best "mark", or "mugu", to use the Nigerian scammers' own term, of all. Consequently this 'adoption of culture' has been adopted itself, the scammers have new enemies who entangle them into a complex play of tricksterish reality-satire, deception, and counter-deception, the scambaiters: "Baiting a scammer involves replying to the emails with the knowledge it is all a scam. Often the scammer will think you are a real victim and try their best to extract money." There are different reasons for scambaiting, some want to create amusing stories, others want to educate the public, and some even want to reverse the scam and receive a few token dollars. The hilarious results can be viewed online.
Initially via c't 8/2004

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