Scambaiting is purposefully engaging in email correspondence with advance fee scammers, while being fully aware of the scam, and never intending to be a real victim.
We’ve all received advance fee fraud scam emails. Some are phony lottery wins, some are requests for help with a large fund of money, supposedly from a widow or orphan. Some of us have even shot off an email response, letting the scammer know we’re on to the scam, or what we think of his scam attempt. But what if you wrote back, pretending to be a victim? This is scambaiting.
Scambaiters play the roles of victims. They purposefully engage the scammer, and continue the correspondence for as long as they can without ever paying the fees requested.
To what end? Every minute that a scammer spends writing to a scambaiter is a minute that he has NOT spent scamming a real victim. Scambaiting wastes a scammer’s time and resources. Scambaiters entertain themselves by drawing the scammer into their own story, often of woe or hilarity. Scammers will usually continue correspondence, traveling further and further down the path the scambaiter leads them, buying into fake personas with the intent to finally get a payout.
The scambaiter uses the exact same manipulation on the scammer that scammers use on their victims – the big payout is just out of reach.
During the course of these baits, scambaiters get information that can be reported. They may uncover information about real scam victims, which can be passed over to a victim warning site. They may get real bank account information, or stolen credit card information, which is reported. They may get information about fraudulent websites the scammer has set up, which again are reported. Scambaiters also often list the information the scammer is using at anti fraud sites to help alert real victims.
There are communities of these volunteers working together to share tools and stories. One scambaiting site, 419Eater.com, has been active since 2003, costing scammers countless hours of their time, lost profits and resources such as stolen credit cards, bank accounts, and websites.
Some may argue that scambaiting isn’t safe. It is perfectly safe, if done correctly. It is important that you keep all of your real information completely separate from your scambaiting personas. Bait safely with fake info.
Another argument is that the scammers are just poor people trying to feed their families. This is a misconception.
If you’re interested in learning more about scambaiting, enter it into Google, or visit a scambaiting community. You may find a new hobby.