Enter The Scambaiter

If you haven’t already read my post regarding Advance Fee Fraud/419 scams, read it first.

It’s the one just below this one. Go, I’ll wait.

Read it? Good.

Irritating, isn’t it? Multi-million-dollar-a-year criminal actions, and pretty much safe for the critters doing the crime.


One of the things that restore my faith in human nature is that in reaction to these criminals, a fair number of ordinary citizens have decided to Do Something About 419 Scammers.

Individual folks — and some loose networks — have decided that if the 419 scammer is busy trying to scam somebody who knows what he is, and isn’t going to fall for his bushwa, then the scammer is wasting time he could be using on a genuine victim.

Plus, once the scammer realizes that he’s been had, he’ll be that much more suspicious of potential victims, and is liable to drop a genuine victim, thinking he’s about to get had again.

Using a sense of justice and outrage, spiced with more than a bit of mischief, these people who bait the 419 scammers (scambaiters) have, in recent years, caused untold losses to scammers, and have no doubt been the reason behind temper tantrums, ulcers, heart-burn, and have generally made life considerably more difficult for those who make money through 419 scams.

This is how scambaiting works:

Here is our scammer — called a ‘mugu’ in the lexicon of the scambaiter, from the Igbo word for ‘victim’ or ‘fool’ — he is sitting in a Internet cafe in Lagos, sending out the opening letter to about 1200 e-mail addresses.

Which costs him money. Internet cafes in Nigeria charge by the hour.

Anyhoo, one of those e-mail addresses just happens to be an anonymous account belonging to Your Humble Scribe.

I am bored? Mwa-haa-haa! I send an e-mail back to the critter announcing that 10 per cent of 30 million dollars is more than generous and I would be happy to help him with his problem.

The scammer thinks this looks good, but sends me an e-mail asking who I am, and would I send a telephone number?

He gets one back telling him that my name is Mr. C. Ashton Smith and that I own an aquarium supply shop outside of Dunwich, New England. Due to an unfortunate accident involving a Lesser Crested Puffer fish and a tube of Alka-Seltzer, I am deaf and thus do not own a phone.

‘Bout four hours later, I receive a flowery e-mail from someone purporting to be a barrister (lawyer), who wishes me well, assures me that the money is safe, yet who would like me to send him a scan of my drivers license “for his records”.

Since I have no intention of allowing any drivers license of mine to be used as aid in the scamming of future innocents, I quite happily attach a 4.5 meg download textfile of random letters and numbers to my return e-mail, titled: “Drivers License”. Remembering that the scamming bastard on the other end is paying for his Internet time by the hour, I even giggle a bit.

I get a response, thanking me. He then delicately mentions that there are bank fees and penalties, which could be dealt with if I could send him $100 American.

I would be glad to help my new-found friend, although I am not clear on the mechanics of sending money over-seas, could he perhaps, instruct me?

Since his English is as murky as his scruples, it takes three sets of e-mails, before I am confident, and I still ‘accidently’ send him the MoneyGram form I was supposed to fill out.

That gets resolved, I send him a scan of a fake MoneyGram form with a random control number, he happily goes to the local office — and I’ll be hornswoggled! That’s not a valid Control Number.

More e-mails follow, he keeps getting turned down at the MoneyGram office, and then I tell him that due to the problems we’re having, the local MoneyGram Office wants him to fill out the attached Security Form, before he can pick up the money.

It uses a complex, lengthy and very confusing algorithim to produce a Control Number. The form, and the number produced are, of course, fake.

He follows the instructions, gets a number, MoneyGram turns him down. I tell him its’s obviously not my fault — he filled out the form, try again.

Still no good, I tell him I don’t trust his MoneyGram company anymore, and I’ll just send a cashiers check by UPS.

Unfortunately, I have erred and sent the check to an office in a city 800 miles away on the far side of a war zone. Silly me.

Apparently, the scammer borrowed a car from his Oga (which he probably paid through the sinuses for), bought the gas, bribed his way past military patrols, checkpoints and other bribable types, dodged militia gunfire…
…only to discover that the address is NOT an office building, and UPS has never, ever delivered anything there …
…and he has to do a reverse of the trip over.

Probably wound up catching a beat-down from his Oga, too, if I know my power structures in Nigeria.

The last e-mail from the little bastard was an enraged shriek, cursing me, my family and informing me that God would do his worst to me on Judgement Day.


So, what did I accomplish? Other than walking around with a smirk for a month?

1) The time he spent trying to con me out of money, he wasn’t working on conning your grandmother, aunt, or anyone else that would fall for his line of bushwa;

2) The next time someone “doesn’t quite understand”, something goes a little wrong with his computer, or there’s any kind of hitch in progress, he’s going to wonder if he’s being baited again, and may drop his victim altogether just to be safe;

3) The resources he spent trying to con me are used up and not going to be available to con the next person; and

4) I cost him money that is no longer available for him to use in conning his next victim.

All good uses of my time, as far as I’m concerned.

If scambaiting interests you, I suggest going the 419eater.com. Those folks are dedicated to doing Bad Things To 419 Scammers, and will happily offer you guidance, advice, mentoring and resources if you should wish to bait your very own mugu.

Be safe.


The Official DD214 of Jesse MacBeth
Advance Fee Fraud a/k/a 419 Scams

16 thoughts on “Enter The Scambaiter”

  1. Too bad he was still around to send you hate mail. Oh well, Better luck next time.

  2. If you only knew how much you made my day with this story, THANK YOU!!

  3. I’m the webmaster for a church website so I get a get a bunch of these every day. All variations on the same theme. Most of them pretty much the same boilerplate letter with the names changed.

    Here is one got I today it’s a brand new one I’ve never read before:
    “From/ Purity Kareem,

    Dear in christ,

    I crave your indulgence as I contact you after reading your profile. I respectfully insist that you read this mail as I am optimistic that it will open doors of unimaginable finacial reward for both of us.

    When I saw and read through your profile, I prayed over it and selected your name among other names due to its esteeming nature and the
    recommendations given to me as a reputable and trust worthy person that I can do business with and by the recommendation , I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere business .

    I am Miss Purity Kareem the only daughter of late Mr.and Mrs.H .Kareem My father was a very wealthy cocoa merchant in Abidjan , the economic capital of Ivory coast, my father was poisoned to death by his business associates on one of their outings on a business trip . My mother died when I was a baby and since then my father took me so special.

    Before the death of my father on August, 2005 in a private hospital here in Abidjan he secretly called me on his bed side and told me that he has the sum of ($10.500,000) which he deposited in a suspense account in one of the prime bank here in Abidjan cote d’ Ivoire That he used my name as his only daughter for the next of Kin in depositing the money in the account.

    He also explained to me that it was because of this wealth that he was poisoned by his busines associates. That I should seek for a foreign partner in a country of my choice where I will transfer the fund into for investment. Dear, All modalites to effect the transfer of the fund has been worked out and there is absolutely no risk involved, all I request from you is.

    (1) Acceptance letter of this offer and To provide me with a good bank account to transfer the money into.

    (2) To serve as a guardian of this fund since I am only 20 years old.

    (3) To make arrangement for me to come over to your country to further my education and to secure a resident permit in your country. Moreover, Dear i am willing to offer you commisions of the total sum as compensation for your effort/input after the successful transfer of this fund into your nominated account in your country.

    Furthermore, you indicate your options towards assisting me as I believe that this transaction would be concluded within a shortest period so that I will come over to your coutry. upon your interest and Anticipating to assist me, I look forward to your further word with interest.

    Please, do not hesitate to contact me with my email address for further details.

    Thanks and God bless you.

    Your Sincerely.

    Miss Purity Kareem.”


    Ysman Bello Waka-Jugbe!!! Wetin yua eye find go dia!!!!

    I need new pet, 😛

  5. Have you enjoyed reading Steve’s mind games with spammers over at hogonice?

  6. I tried to actually get money out of one of these guys before. I replied, said I’d help. But the problem is, I’m just starting college and don’t have a bank account yet – I just won a small ($3000) lottery ticket, but they only pay by direct deposit. I asked for $100 to start a bank account, and offered to give them the account information so they could deposit the money, etc. They refused to wire the money, and wouldn’t talk to me any more after that. Too bad.

  7. An anonymous poster already commented on what Steve over at HogOnIce.com is doing — you might be interested in it.

    He actually did it long enough, and made it complex enough, that he’s trying to get a book published with all the emails that were sent back and forth to the 419 scammers.

  8. Actually Lawdog, my PD encountered a slight varient on the 419 scam. It is worth a posting in itself but nobody would see it on my blog anyway. In short the lady who was a victim in our city received a check to cash for something like $50,000 and was asked to cash it at a bank and send all but 10 percent back. (I.E. Having the lady commit bank fraud.) For some reason the bank thought the check was legit and actually cashed it. But she decided to keep the money and ignore them. But she gave them too much info and the threatened her and her family with everything from kidnapping to voodoo witchdoctors. The story ends with our vic contacting a local witch to reverse a deadly curse and coming to the PD because she is in fear of her life. I don’t recall how the case ended but they went to the bank to investigate bank fraud and it was a cluster of a day. One officer commented that he didn’t want to handle it because of bad mojo.

  9. dear Mr. Mugu,
    Before considering your proposition we will
    require as evidence of good faith that you
    forward a cash binder to equal 20% of the total
    sum you wish handled. This must be cash in u.s.
    currency and in bills no larger than $20.00 and
    must be hand delivered by courier, no business
    will be conducted until this condition is met to
    our satisfaction. If you do not hear from your
    courier after the delivery do not be concerned,
    we will see him off properly.
    Yours truly,
    Goforth, Kilburn & Robb
    Property aquisition
    13 Cutpurse Lane
    Thievesden U.K.

  10. I recently came across something like this. A friend of mine in New Zealand forwarded a copy of an email to me to see if I could verify it, being American and all.
    The email said that he had won the emigration lottery and that if he would just send something like eight hundred dollars to the American embassy per family member (including himself) that he would be guaranteed a job and bed.
    What I still haven't figured out is how the scammer intended to get the money if we sent it by western union to somebody in the embassy staff.

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