Scam Baiting


419 scam by Robert Neubecker

Scam baiting is a form of Internet vigilantism, where the vigilante poses as a potential victim to the scammer in order to waste their time and resources, gather information that will be of use to authorities, and publicly expose the scammer. It is primarily used to thwart advance-fee fraud scams (e.g. ‘Nigerian Prince’ scams) and can be done out of a sense of civic duty (activism) by documenting scammers tools and methods, warning potential victims, or taking down fake websites.

A bait is very simply initiated, by answering a scam email, from a throwaway email account, i.e. one that is only used for baiting and untraceable back to the actual owner. The baiter then pretends to be receptive to the financial hook that the scammer is using, but requires increasingly ridiculous forms of security from the scammer before turning over funds. Scam baiters typically use jest in their attacks. However, some scam baiters have been accused of abject mockery, racism, and homophobia, and even scamming themselves.

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