A British blogger’s three-part series about an interview with a self-identified reformed scammer is worth a few minutes of your time to read. The writer was contacted by phone by an anonymous, 23-year-old man from Nigeria who claimed he served two years behind bars for advance-fee fraud and phishing.
The conman claims a gang recruited him when has 15 years old and coached him in how to convince Americans to send money, usually by wire transfer. He used a variety of tricks to convince people to trust him. But the most interesting part to me is how he found people potential victims in the first place.
“People sign guestbooks online and leave their email addresses all over the internet on forums and websites. We would just visit the guestbooks, forums and websites and harvest the email addresses. Some gangs have software that collects these emails automatically, so it cuts down on the work.”
A number of All Consuming readers have bragged about how they’ve “tricked” scammers by leading them along. There are even entire Web communities devoted to scamming scammers. I’ve always cautioned against this, as well as trying to make a scammer feel guilty or just telling them to bug off, if for no other reason, than you’ve just exposed your email address to a con. After reading the scammer’s interview, I’m not changing my mind.
“Once you reply your email address will be put on a list and sold to other gangs, even if you never reply again. It just tells them that the address is real and that somebody reads email going to that address. If they can’t get you with 419 (advance-fee fraud) they will try phishing or viruses to get your banking details and take your money that way.”
If you receive an offer via email from someone claiming to need your help getting money out of a foreign country forward it to the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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