July 4, 2006 If you are growing tired of your in-tray being crammed with email scams from third world nations, spare a thought for all those people who didn’t realise they were scams. ScamPatrol reports 15-20 victims a week, with an average victim paying out US$20,000 and some estimates put the global haul from 419 (advance fee fraud) scams at US$1.5 billion. While most of those scammed are the victims of their own greed, it’s interesting to see the rise of internet vigilantism and the evolution of the cyberspace equivalent of big game hunting - scambaiting. Scambaiting is the sport of scamming the would-be scammer and although vigilantism is hard to sanction , it’s hard to see scambaiting as anything but a noble pastime where the wins are something to be proud of.
The world’s best Scambaiting exponents display their trophies and teach other would-be-Robin-Hoods how to go about it at sites such as 419Eater, Scambaits, Scamorama and ScamBuster419. Should Scambaiting ever become an Olympic sport, Shiver Metimbers, the administrator of 419Eater, would be a Gold Medal contender. For some of his finest work, including how he got a scammer to carve him a Commodore 64 computer (pictured), go here.