Scam baiting- good or evil?

Scambaiting is the practice of harassing scammers. Most often this occurs with 419 scams- basically the baiter responds to a 419 letter and make it seem like they are interested in getting involved. Then they convince the scammer to do any number of things from re-enacting the dead parrot sketch on video to traveling thousands of miles. The results are then posted on the internet for the amusement of others.

The baiters justify this by saying they are wasting the scammer’s time and resources, keeping them from finding real victims. They also do work hunting down fake bank accounts, publicizing scams, etc. Baiters point out that 419 scammers are bad people who are looking to rob others, and have often esculated things to the point of kidnapping and murder. And they are out of the reach of any law. It’s only fair to do what you can to make their criminal work harder.

I was recently introduced to this bait, where a Nigerian scammer was convinced to undertake a fairly epic journey deep into Chad. Chad is currently pretty war torn, and the baiter directed this guy towards Darfur, stringing him along for months. It got pretty elaborate- there may have been injuries. Surely the guy really did run out of money and find himself in a bad spot at some point.

And as I was reading, it started to break my heart a bit. I worked right on the Nigerian border for a while, and the pictures of scammers I’ve seen could as easily be pictures of my friends. Yes, it is bad to scam. Yes, these guys are thieves. But they are also sons and fathers with no prospects. None. You can’t get a job out there. You can’t make an honest living. People live off of food they grow themselves, build their own houses out of mud, and hope the rains don’t fail.

And now they are being told that they might make enough not only to live well, but to get their family out of poverty (and given their culture they really would use some of that money to help their family.) Now stealing isn’t a way to do this. But they started the scam, and now they think they are going to basically win the lottery. Of course they are going to do whatever they can to get it. Of course they are going to invest whatever they have- and the resources of their families- to get it.

And to make them take funny pictures- well that is fair. To convince them to travel to a war zone, where they really could get hurt or killed, is too far. I feel like the baiters are taking advantage of these guy’s dreams and desperation.

So what do you think? Is scambaiting fun and useful, or cruel and crude? How far is too far?

Fuckers pray on the vulnerable. I have no time or sympathy for them. The moment they send an email to me or anyone i love, i have the moral right to fuck with them. Assholes.

However, saying that, i dont feel much sympathy for those who send their bank account details / money off to strangers either. Its just another stupid tax.

Scam baiting is good, but how much time do you really want to spend protecting stupid people ? If winding poor Nigerians up is just a sport then fine, but the stupid are always going to be stupid. You save them from this 419 scam and they will just end up falling for another one.

When I click on the link, I get to a web page that is virtually incomprehensible, and ugly to boot.

I can’t judge without a coherent narrative to follow.

I think it’s less “protecting stupid people” and more “fucking with people who tried to fuck with me”.

Death is too good for scammers, unless crocodiles are involved also, so the more they are fucked with the happier I am. I’d do my little happy dance every time a mass spammer caught a bullet with their skull also.

How is that different from what the scammers are doing? They promise people thousands or millions of dollars. Are you telling me there aren’t Westerners who are desperate for that money? And they’re even more desperate after these fuckers steal from them, of course.

Leading a guy to a warzone is too much, although it sounds like we’re talking about a guy who was as gullible as the people who fall for these things. Short of that, there’s nothing wrong with scambaiting. It’s funny and it’s entirely justified.

I think with the first part, that’s the point he was trying to make.
And with the second, i think that’s why people don’t mind scamming them.
It’s a “you get what you deserve thing”.

As much as people really say they don’t believe it, many people find that two wrongs do equal a right.

Thanks for the link btw: is very entertaining reading !

I think it’s going too far.

Screwing around with scammers is funny … placing their life in jeopardy is not.

I sympathy for their plight perhaps but they deserve what they get.

Huh. So, attempted scammers should be somehow exempt from the general, “don’t trust anything that is e-mailed to you by someone you don’t know personally,” rule?

Sorry, I disagree. These scammers have conned people out of thousands of dollars, sometimes their entire life’s savings. They have caused financial ruin and even suicide. When a scammer does something stupid and dangerous in response to an e-mail he receives, I have no pity.

You reap what you sow.

Strongly seconded.

Cry me a Niger. Sad that their country is a shithole, but I give no quarter to parasites. “Goose chase through a war zone” is better than they deserve.

This is kind of condescending, don’t you think?

Most poor people, even poor people in Africa, don’t resort to lies and stealing in order to escape poverty. Why should we excuse the minority who do?

Part of morality says to protect the weak and helpless. Scammers don’t do that; they try to prey on them. Sometimes, what goes around comes around.


Leading them into a situation where they might die or be seriously injured is going too far. It is only money that they’re trying to get from their victims, and people shouldn’t be killed or punished physically for what is an economic crime. If we wouldn’t sentence an American CEO who defrauded investors out of money to being sent to a war zone, we shouldn’t do it to a Nigerian scammer, either.

Getting them to send you silly pictures or something like that seems pretty much harmless, if a bit frivolous.

No? Chevron has over 2000 employees out there and is currently hiring.

per wiki:*Overview
Nigeria is classified as an emerging market, and is rapidly approaching middle income status, with its abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications, transport sectors and stock exchange (the Nigerian Stock Exchange), which is the second largest in Africa. Nigeria is ranked 37th in the world in terms of GDP (PPP) as of 2007. Nigeria is the United States’ largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa and supplies a fifth of its oil (11% of oil imports). It has the seventh-largest trade surplus with the U.S. of any country worldwide. Nigeria is currently the 50th-largest export market for U.S. goods and the 14th-largest exporter of goods to the U.S. The United States is the country’s largest foreign investor. [37]

The bulk of economic activity is centred in 4 main cities: Lagos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Abuja. Beyond these three economic centres, development is marginal and poverty is still prevalent despite government efforts.

While economic development had been hindered by the years of military rule, corruption, and mismanagement, the restoration of democracy and subsequent economic reforms have successfully put Nigeria back on more secure economic footing. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Bank, Nigerian GDP at purchasing power parity has nearly doubled from $170.7 billion in 2005 to 292.6 billion in 2007. The GDP per head has jumped from $692 per person in 2006 to $1,754 per person in 2007.[38]

During the oil boom of the 1970s, Nigeria accumulated a significant foreign debt to finance major infrastructural investments. Many of the projects financed by these debts were inefficient, bedeviled by corruption, or failed to live up to expectations. When oil prices collapsed during the oil glut of the 1980s, Nigeria was unable to maintain its loan obligations and eventually defaulted on its principal debt repayments, limiting repayment to the interest portion of the loans. Arrears and penalty interest accumulated on the unpaid principal and increased the size of the debt. However, after a long campaign by the Nigeria authorities, in October 2005 Nigeria and its Paris Club creditors reached an agreement in which Nigeria repurchased its debt at a discount of approximately 60%. Nigeria used part of its oil profits to pay the residual 40%, freeing up at least $1.15 billion annually for poverty reduction programmes. As of April 2006, Nigeria became the first African Country to fully pay off its debt (estimated $30 billion) owed to the Paris Club.
Key Sectors
Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest proven reserves. (The country joined OPEC in 1971). Petroleum plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40% of GDP and 80% of Government earnings. However, agitation for better resource control in the Niger Delta, its main oil producing region, has led to disruptions in oil production and currently prevents the country from exporting at 100% capacity.

Nigeria has one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world, major emerging market operators (like MTN, Etisalat, Zain and Globacom) basing their largest and most profitable centres in the country. The government has recently begun expanding this infrastructure to space based communications.

The country has a highly developed financial services sector, with a mix of local and international banks, asset management companies, brokerage houses, insurance companies and brokers, private equity funds and investment banks. Many home grown firms have expanded across the region and into Europe, Asia and North America becoming multinationals in their own right.

Nigeria also has a wide array of underexploited mineral resources which include natural gas, coal, bauxite, tantalite, gold, tin, iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead and zinc.[39] Despite huge deposits of these natural resources, the mining industry in Nigeria is still in it infancy.

Agriculture used to be the principal foreign exchange earner of Nigeria. At one time, Nigeria was the world’s largest exporter of groundnuts, cocoa, and palm oil and a significant producer of coconuts, citrus fruits, maize, pearl millet, cassava, yams and sugar cane. About 60% of Nigerians work in the agricultural sector, and Nigeria has vast areas of underutilised arable land. Perhaps, one of the most daunting ramifications of the discovery of oil was the decline of agricultural sector. So extensive was the neglect that Nigeria, which was a net food exporter in the 1960s and grew 98% of his own food, now imports much of the same cash crops it was formerly famous for exporting.

It also has a booming manufacturing industry which includes leather and textiles (centred Kano, Abeokuta, Onitsha, and Lagos), car manufacturing (for the French car manufacturer Peugeot as well as for the English truck manufacturer Bedford, now a subsidiary of General Motors), t-shirts, plastics and processed food.*

Note that the term “corruption” occurs over and over as a reason why Nigeria isn’t doing as well as would be expected. That’s their own damn fault.

I’m a bit neutral about all this to be honest. If you are stupid enough to be scammed then…well, you get what you deserve. If you are stupid enough to be lead on into a war zone with the expectation of trying to scam someone…well, you get what you deserve.

I guess were I to come down on one side or another I’d have to say…fuck the scammers. They are ACTIVELY trying to fuck people over…and if they are then stupid enough to be lead on, well, perhaps they will do the world (and the gene pool) a service and get whacked. As for the scammed…well, unfortunately there is seemingly no cure for stupid. C’est la vie…


I don’t have a problem with it. These guys chose to be scam artists (and the bait simply wouldn’t work on them if they were innocent), and they chose to do whatever it is they were manipulated into doing because they were trying to pull off their scams.

I’m fair-minded. I have nothing against sending some of the Wall Street crooks to a Third World war zone.

I’d cheerfully send an American CEO who defrauded investors into a war zone: we call it prison. Not country club federal prison, but Pelican Bay type prison. As for the scammers, screw them, as long as it is not a certain death sentence it is a just punishment.