Scamming the Nigerian scammers

Posted on April 2, 2009 
Filed Under Crime

This came up in conversation last night on how a friend’s friends got taken by an email scammer using a variant of the Nigerian 419 scam.

While I was in New Zealand, I had the pleasure of reading The Daily Aardvark, run by the eccentric Bruce Simpson, who gained notoriety later for wanting to build, among other things, a Cruise Missile.

Mr Simpson’s rants were a daily must-read and among them was this gem – Bait-A-Scammer Today:

So far this game hasn’t actually been given a name — but I think we’ll call it “bait-a-scammer” and here’s how it’s played.

When Dr Aba Ngkomo (or whatever alias is being used today) from Nigeria sends you one of his “CONFIDENTIAL” emails the game begins.

The first thing you’ll note is that due to tragic mismanagement over many years, there is a chronic shortage of lower-case alpha characters in Nigeria so most of the emails sent by Dr Aba Ngkomo will be typed entirely in capitals.

The goal of the game is to convince the Nigerian scammer that you really are interested in their “CONFIDENTIAL” offer to smuggle a large amount of gold or US cash out of the country for a sizeable commission.

Your score is calculated not only by the number of emails you manage to exchange before you tire or before the scammer catches on to the fact that you’re just playing with them — but also on the level of stupidity you can to get them to display.

Extra points are awarded if you’re able to slip the name of your favourite Star Trek character into the email exchange with bonus points earned if you can get an actual candid picture of the scamsters. Get them to send you money (one really player did) and your score is tripled.

Regular readers may recall that I played this game a while back with limited success. Unfortunately, not having much time for computer games, I didn’t score particularly highly and gave up after a couple of weeks.

However, there are some experts at this game who have documented their own efforts on the web — and many of them will have you in tears of laughter and gasping with amazement.

My personal favourite example, and surely the overall winner, must be the game documented on this page where the player actually managed to get the Nigerian scammers to send him US$3. You must read right to the end if you are to wet your pants (I did).

Runner-up has to be The Adventures of Wendy Willcox where the player really used their intelligence and even recruited a webcam to snap pictures of the scamsters from half a world away.

There are plenty of other players who have published a log of their games on the Web and this page contains a nice list of links to follow.

So, next time one of those kind Nigerians with a broken caps-lock key sends you an email, don’t just delete it, shout “GAME ON” a the top of your voice and join the action.

If enough people do this then maybe the scammers will give up.



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