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Scambaiting becomes new Net blood sport

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Our piece last week on Nigerian 419 email fraudsters provoked a flurry of correspondence.

Doubtless most Reg readers will have received one of these emails from the son of some West African colonel, USUALLY WRITTEN INEXPLICABLY IN CAPS, displaying a tenuous hold on the English language and promising riches beyond the wildest dreams of avarice.

Laughable they may be, but a fool and his money are soon parted. Indeed, these rogues have had some success in relieving hapless and greedy people of their hard-earned cash, so be warned.

Of course, it's simple enough to delete the damn things, but if you want to get a bit more hands-on in the war against fraud, why not take Pascal Dornier's advice?:

Instead of ignoring them, I _always_ forward them to abuse @ whatever the reply to address is - that way their email accounts get closed before anybody gets hurt.

This approach is noted also by Rik Kershaw-Moore, who's Information Security Administrator at Avon and Somerset Constabulary:

The current advice from people like the High Tech Crime Unit and the Nigerian Government is when you get one of those 4-1-9 scam emails, simply forward it to the abuse@ address of the ISP involved. The idea here is, and personally I think it is a non-starter, that the Nigerian scammers will eventually get sick of having their accounts closed down and move elsewhere.

Yes, it seems unlikely that criminals who are prepared to kidnap their victims and extort money from their families would be deterred by a slap on the wrist from some ISP.

So, what's the alternative? Well, why not simply waste their time and enjoy the added bonus of some fun at their expense? This new sport of Nigerian scambaiting has spawned a series of sites dedicated to the discipline. And if readers find it hard to believe that anyone could fall for a 419 fraud, then marvel at the perpetrator's dogged pursuit of a lead, no matter how preposterous the correspondence.

First up we have www.scamorama.com, jam-packed with every conceivable variation on the 419. Good stuff.

Then there's www.waronspam.com and their fruitless dealings with Ibrahim Abubakar.

www.thespamletters.com is Jonathan Land's one man crusade against spam, including an epic and entertaining correspondence with one Dr Hamza Kalu.

However, our favourite is this beauty, in which the female author leads poor old Kizombe Kamara a merry dance. The bloke never stood a chance. Delicious. ®

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