Friday, November 11, 2005

Vigilantes on the Internet

Recently in the mainstream press, there has been a lot of news and commentary regarding Vigilantes on the southern borders of the United States. Vigilantism against cybercriminals is also becoming an organized effort on the internet via websites, who play along with the scams in order to waste the time of the fraudsters. This post is dedicated to those involved in fighting 419 (Advance fee fraud) activity.

These groups are organized by websites, such as Here in their own words is how they play the game, "So what is scambaiting? Well, put simply, you enter into a dialogue with scammers, simply to waste their precious time and resources. Whilst you are doing this, you will be helping to keep the scammers away from real potential victims and screwing around with the minds of gutless thieves."

There are a lot of these sites out there, here are some of them;, great collection of information and scambaits
419 Eater, one of the most famous scambaiting sites
419 Eater's scam baiting community - Forum
The Nigerian Letters
Ebola Monkey Man: Pissing Off Nigerian Scammers
(This one is very amusing)
Frank Rizzo and the 419 Zeros - Scamming the Scammers Without Mercy!
P-P-P-Powerbook, scammer ripped off with really fake Apple laptop, many famous freight-baits originated here
Artists Against 419 - Home of the fake bank database and the FlashMob - notorious 419 scammers revealed by scam baiters
Conversations with a Nigerian Bank Scammer

One that I visited recently, (which is a Yahoo Group) is "Romance Scam 419 Yahoo Group (US)." When I signed up for this group, I started getting more than 200 e-mails daily from them forcing me to "unsubscribe" due to other commitments. They (as many of the sites do) post pictures of their scammers for everyone to see. I did see evidence that they report activity to the authorities and they claim that law enforcement does monitor the site for intelligence purposes.

Many of these sites do expose fake financial and credit services and I would imagine they have the potential to be a intelligence conduit for law enforcement.

Before engaging in any of this, there are dangers to consider. Here is a warning from

"Please remember that these people are CRIMINALS and should be treated as such.

Under no circumstances must you enter into any communications with these people unless you feel you are adequately prepared to deal with them.

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES give them ANY real private information about yourself. These guys may appear dumb and clueless, but I suspect it wouldn't be so funny if you were to come face-to-face with one of them, although I'll be the first to admit the chances of this happening are astronomical - unless of course you are dumb enough to fly over to meet them in person, in which case you need to be sectioned ASAP!

The tips below are for INFORMATION ONLY. I cannot be held responsible for what you decide to do with the information.

If you are unsure of what you are doing please LEAVE WELL ALONE!"

I would like to add that as technology increases, anyone involved in this activity should become well-versed on the dangers of malware, which is used fraudulent internet activity. Malware can be executed against one's computer system via e-mail and even IM's (instant messaging).

In theory (if not protected properly) this could lead to the scammer turning the tables on the scam baiter and stealing information from their personal computer and even worse, identifying the scambaiter.

There is also the potential in this for sites, or people to be damaged, if wrongfully identified. This has happened in the case of similar sites, which go after sexual predators.

These sites do serve a purpose in fighting fraud and their efforts in most instances are admirable. They can also be used to provide valuable intelligence to law enforcement, who have the resources and expertise to verify the criminal activity and deal with it. If they are simply used for cybersport, then it will confuse and frustrate the scammer, but only temporarily. Nonetheless, these sites serve to raise awareness, which is key in the fight with 419. Besides that sometimes a little revenge is "Chicken Soup for the Soul."

Here is a link, courtesy of my friends at Quatloos, where you can find a lot of resources to report any activity to Law Enforcement.

For the last word from the Ebola Monkey Man, click on the title of this post.

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