NB – I have reblogged this from another blogger, and unfortunately cannot find the original! It’s still a great piece and should live on, but i claim no credit for authorship!
Phishing — where scammers attempt to steal sensitive information like account passwords and credit card numbers by posing as trusted sources or web sites — is all too common. Fraudulent e-mails and sites are best avoided altogether, but if you’re feeling particularly “vigilante,” there are a number of ways you can ruin a phisher’s operation, and perhaps help protect your fellow web users in the process. Here’s how.
1. Bait the Waters
Lure would-be scammers by registering dozens of e-mail addresses, using fake names and identifying information. The more e-mail identities you have, the more spam e-mail you will receive.
2. Respond Credulously
When you get a come-on from an e-mail scammer, write back enthusiastically and ask for more details. “I am sorry to hear that your brother is being held prisoner! Where exactly is the prison he is being held at? Were you hurt when you were deposed in the coup?”
3. Create the Impression of Great Wealth
Mention in your reply e-mail that it is currently a very busy time for your business, or that you are in mourning for your wealthy uncle who has just died and left you his estate.
4. Invent a Persona
Make up a name, and include small details in your e-mail, including the name of a spouse or a pet. Do not select a real name for your persona, in order to avoid implicating other people in your anti-scam scam. Name yourself something that is clearly ridiculous to you, but that a foreign scammer might not recognize, such as “Alfred E. Newman.” Find stock photographs to complement your new persona.
5. Ask for Proof
When the scammer expresses his desire for you to wire money, act as though you are wary. Ask him to send proof of the legitimacy of his business. Ask for photographs of his office, his co-workers, and his car. Remember, the more time he spends satisfying your requests, the less time he has to devote to scamming other people.
6. Ask for Patience
Keep the scammer excited about how much they are going to fleece you for. “After reviewing my accounts, I think I will soon be able to comply with your request, and in fact can double it.” First, though, say you must arrange to have the money released, which will take time. Apologize.
7. Ask for Money
Turn the tables on the scammer by explaining that, before you can wire the money, you need to pay a fee to your own bank to have the funds released. Ask him to wire you money. If he sends a check, do not cash it, but record the account information, as it is likely a stolen or made-up account.
8. Poison Future Scams
Over the course of your correspondence, relay incorrect information that will make the scammer’s future scams less effective. For example, mention that American women love to be called dirty, offensive, names, or that most American banks are only open on Sundays.
Invent more and more delays to the promised pay-off. The scammer just has to do one more thing for you, send one more photograph, etc., before you can go ahead and send the money. The more hoops you make the scammer jump through, the more willing he will be to do more, since he has already invested so much time and energy.
Increase the difficulty level of the requests. Ask the scammer to travel to another country “to meet your representative” there. Then e-mail again, apologizing for the mix-up and reschedule the meeting. If you start to feel badly, remind yourself that this is the same technique scammers use on their victims. They get them to sink more and more money in, in the form of fees and upfront costs, making it harder and harder for the victim to admit to him or herself that it’s a scam.
11. Abruptly Cease Corresponding
Cancel the phony e-mail you had set up. Post the scammer’s name and any other identifying information you have received on anti-scam web sites.
Be Aware, and Be Safe
– The most infamous pool of e-mail scammers is in Lagos, Nigeria, but they come from all over the world, including from within the United States.
– Never use your real name, or any real-world details about yourself or your family, when interacting with a scammer. If you correspond via letter or package, use a safety deposit box and a fake address. Though there may be a comic element to their communication, scammers are professional criminals.
Editor’s note: The preceding post is a work of satire.