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Scam Baiting

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Once again, I have just received a slew of emails notifying me that I have won a contest, inherited a large sum of money, been chosen as a trustee for a wealthy gentleman, or that I am needed to assist someone in moving large sums of money out of a foreign country. Welcome to the era of the internet scam artists, who ruthlessly cheat elderly, disabled, and just plain gullible people out of their life savings.

Thankfully, there is a large contingent of people who have lots of time on their hands; people who amuse themselves by screwing with scammers - the scam baiters. The scam baiters respond to these emails posing as easy marks. Then slowly, they start to mess with the scammers to keep them occupied, partly to waste their time so they aren't ripping off other people, partly for a little instant karma, and partly for the sheer fun of it. Sometimes they ask the scammer to prove their identity, sometimes by taking a picture with oh, say a cake, or a fish on their head. They occasionally turn the tables and lure the scammers in with the promise of money by way of grants. It has become something of an internet sport.

Sometimes it seems cruel when you look at photographs of the scammers being humiliated, but you have to remember that these guys make their livings ruining people's lives. Some people may think that if you are stupid enough to fall for a scam you deserve what you get, but the scammers intentionally seek out and prey on the disabled and elderly. People who have traveled to Nigeria either to investigate or at the request of the scammers have been beaten or murdered. The Nigerian consul to the Czech Republic was murdered when a victim sought revenge.

Who are these scam baiters? From invented packaging company names "Klingon Shipping Express" and the use of names taken from Monty Python and The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I can only surmise that our beloved nerds have risen to the challenge. They are the superheroes of the internet, and funny as hell. Who else knows the tricks of Photoshop, printing believable documents, and the inside workings of bank forgeries better? My favorite site focuses on the Nigerian 419 scam that lures the victim with the promise of large sums of money and slowly milks them dry. This scam-baiter, Shiverme Timbers, is probably in England, judging by the language. Enjoy!

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There are a number of tricks and games played on the scammers - making them send videos of themselves trying out to be stuntment or acting out sketches, painting their bodies or getting tattooes just to join a church that hopefully will send them money - it seems like there is nothing the scammers won't do. My favorite scam-baiting trick is when the baiter Shiverme Timbers pretends to need a carving for some reason, like an art grant, and fools the scammer into actually mailing him a carving. With a bit of Photoshop, he claims that the carving was destroyed by vermin. Some of these pictures are hysterical. Butch Driveshaft responds to requests for computers by sending them heavy packages, postage due. Check out the site where he posts. You can search 419 on Google or Youtube and watch these all day.