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Scam baiting

(Redirected from 419 scambaiting)

Scam baiting is the practice of pretending interest in a fraudulent scheme in order to manipulate a scammer. The purpose of scam baiting might be to waste the scammers' time, embarrass them, cause them to reveal information which can be passed on to legal authorities in the hope that they will be prosecuted, or simply to amuse the baiter.

Scam baiting emerged in response to e-mail based frauds such as the common Nigerian 419 scam. Several websites publish transcripts of correspondences between baiters and scammers.

One common goal of scam baiting has become the photographic trophy. The scammers, sometimes known as lads, are goaded or cajoled by the Mugus, or victims, into having a picture taken of themselves, usually while holding custom made signs, or in odd poses with specific props (such as placing a fish on one's head).

Many scambaiters will also send the scammers to a Western Union office to collect the supposedly sent money and get them to book hotels for them. A few baiters have also succeeded in receiving cash from the fraudsters. Other techniques include:

  • giving the scammers a long, silly questionnaire to fill out
  • filling up their inboxes with large attachments
  • making scammers call the baiters back on the telephone (using anonymous VOIP numbers), in order to waste their time and money
  • hacking into the scammers' email accounts in order to find their victims' addresses, in order to send them warning letters

A new technique called an "ASEM bait" (Accidentally Sent E-Mail) has been recently developed. It fools the scammer into believing that the scambaiter has accidentally sent an e-mail to him when the "victim" is actually intending to send the e-mail to another fraudster. Many ASEM baits have been very successful and humorous.

A beneficial side-effect of scam baiting has been the exposure of false and fradulent "banking" and "credit" services, which are often created by the scammers to further their scams and make them seem legitimate.

Scam-baiting is a potentially dangerous activity. At least one scam victim has been murdered as the result of a 419 scam, and scam-baiters are presumably not well-liked by the 419 operators. However, there are no known cases of a scammer finding the identity of a scambaiter, since baiters always use fake email accounts and are careful not to disclose any personal details.

Scam baiting can also be considered a type of sting operation, although many scambaits are simply to waste time instead of catching the scammer, so it may not fit the definition.

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