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 Closing lad accounts - good idea or bad idea?

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Poll :: Closing lad accounts - good idea or bad idea?

Good idea
 4%  [ 7 ]
Bad idea
 88%  [ 126 ]
I can't decide
 6%  [ 9 ]
Total Votes : 142

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:04 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Thank goodness the majority of you understand it's a stupid thing to do, that does nothing to stop the scammers. Smile

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:10 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Pastor Frank wrote:
at what point would you have the account closed?
1. As soon as you learn the lad is a scammer? Then scambaiting wouldn't be much fun.

Here you go, I lay my cards on the table.

I've been carrying this old idea of mine along for years to establish lad account closure on an industrial scale. (This may come as a shock to you, but read along, there's more. Wink) The idea has just been resurrected as I've been browsing the phone lad forum and realized some of the difficulties members engaging themselves in having those accounts closed are facing. (One of the problems is that there is no way one would want to report a large number of accounts one by one through the regular abuse report email address of the respective provider. That would be highly inefficient and amateurish - a simple but elaborate interface is needed for bulk abuse reports.)

My idea of the industrial lad account closure procedure is as follows: using even a relatively low number of simple spamtraps several dozen if not hundreds of opening letters per day could be captured (this is also how obtains information). Once the aforementioned bulk abuse reporting interface would be established, all exposed accounts could automatically be fed into the respective webmail provider's system, ideally leading to the closure of the reported accounts within the next few hours. No hassle would occur as human communication prone to problems ranging from language inaccuracies to incomplete headers etc would entirely be bypassed. A B2B interface would pass along all required information, which is, at a closer look, nothing else than just the plain email from the first line of the header until the last byte of the message - simple enough, at least theoretically. Wink

Lads commonly use email account harvesters - they're already up to industrial scale. The charm in the above method is that we can beat them with their own weapons. Harvesters can not distinguish between baiters, victims and spamtrap addresses, that's the nature of things. The consequence could be extremely annoying to any lad. As 419 essentially relies on spam, rigorous automatic spam account closure could be a major impact. Where there is no chance of a reply to a spam run, there is no return either.

I am not so naive to think that this would stop any lad from scamming. Of course this would not terminate Advance Fee Fraud, so it wouldn't put an end to the baiting fun either. The simple reason is that it is virtually impossible to catch all 419 opening letters using spamtraps, let alone to have all accounts closed. It is difficult to guess how many percent of the opening letter traffic could be affected. It may range somewhere from the humble 1%-ish to the optimistic 20%-30% (at best!), depending on the number, accuracy and distribution of the spamtraps.

The above estimation is to underline that this type of account closure would not take your chance to keep on having fun with the lads, but it would potentially make the lads life much harder and save a certain percentage of targeted victims. In the thread initially referred to by Zen techniques have been mentioned to increase your chances to "survive" the unfortunate event of the closure of your pet's account. Nothing could be farther from me than wanting to spoil your fun.

Pastor Frank wrote:
Lets assume that 1 out of 100 people the lad is in contact with is a baiter. If you close the account there is a great chance that the next fresh batch of victims is 100% innocents.

Based on the process I laid out above, to a certain percentage scamming work could be rendered useless and to the same extent victims would be cut off from the lads. Besides, there is a flaw in your logic in respect to the point, that not knowing whether the account to be targeted for closure would be used to communicate with a real victim or with a baiter (in reality there is overlapping, btw), the probability of your scenario equals to the one the other way around, namely that a real victim's communication would be interrupted in favour of that of a baiter.

Last edited by komsomol on Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:15 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:14 am Reply with quoteBack to top

This vote is a landslide.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:44 am Reply with quoteBack to top

komsomol wrote:
@rumbero - so what exactly is your problem?

komsomol lets keep this civil !


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:56 am Reply with quoteBack to top

With all due respect, I wanted to know what exactly their problem was. In the rest of my post I pointed out the contradiction in their reasoning which made me hard to follow where they were coming from.

I sincerely apologize if the sentence "what exactly is your problem" sounded like an assault. I certainly wasn't meant like that.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:28 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Hey, I figure we're all mostly working on speculation, gut feeling, opinion and personal experience, so there should be no need to get out the flame retardant longjohns no matter what your opinion is.

komsomol wrote:
I strongly believe it does: it sets them back, it renders their spam runs void.

I could easily fully agree with that point if all email providers were conscientious and prompt about shutting down a scammer's reply-to/catcher accounts when they are reported. If they were, you could definitely take a large toll on their productivity by promptly filling out an abuse report and taking away at least some of their ability to make initial contact with victims.

Problem is, they aren't. I've run across several email providers who will totally ignore any and all reports of scammer accounts. (Netscape, I'm looking at you, here... or at least back when I occasionally tried to annoy a lad by shutting his account down midbait, Netscape was rather uncooperative. That may have changed. It's been a while.) Many providers will also happily ignore abuse reports when the original spam run doesn't come from their system. And if the initial abuse reports never see human eyeballs, there's no way to make an argument that they should shut it down. So many abuse reporting systems seem to go by headers only.

And even the ones that are good netizens aren't always all that speedy about it. Twenty-four to forty-eight hours from reporting is pretty prompt, but it's still plenty of time for a scammer to get a decent list of initial respondents together.

I've also sometimes wondered if mass closing of accounts might not have the effect of sort of "herding" scammers toward the providers who never act on abuse reports, kind of like some scam websites seem to have wised up about finding a host who doesn't care what you're doing so long as the bill gets paid.

I can easily admit that I'm somewhat torn. On the one hand, I would like to think a reasonably efficient, possibly automated solution such as you outlined could make a significant impact and actually make it worth the (in that case, rather minimal) effort to report addresses to abuse, with little chance of ruining a bait in progress. After all, one of my largest mental hurdles to recommending that approach is the time and effort required to report it versus the relative ease with which a scammer can open up a new one. But on the other, I've also seen that an unflattering Google search, as someone put it, often leads a victim on the hook to the discovery of a scam. Not all scam targets are net savvy enough to look for other details in the format like names or phrases.

I've never (yet) had a scammer seem to jump ship on me during a bait merely because their account bit the dust. Unfortunately. I had a few that I thought had, but a quick email proved their account was still open, they just found me too exhausting to deal with. To tell the truth, I'm rather bummed at how easy it is to hook a lad and how hard it is to shake them off once they're hooked. I'm not even a particularly encouraging "victim", yet they stick like glue. I've had a few lads who could probably get you to send them money just to finally shut them the hell up and get them to leave you alone. I've got one that just contacted me again after months of silence. I think I first started baiting him two years ago. I'm more likely to get a lad to drop me due to me being "difficult".

If it would indeed make a decent impact and could be made worth your while/effort, I would be all for you spoiling some of my baiting fun. I get more far more fun out of spoiling a lad's day, even if it's by doing something that's not baiting.

Mind, a lot of the quandry is due to us not being able to run any sort of true scientific comparison. It's so darned hard to measure how much scamming doesn't happen, whether that be due to baiting, shutting down addresses, informational anti-scam sites, published baits, spam filtering, or... um... sunspots, just for the heck of it.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:26 am Reply with quoteBack to top

@ Kom:

Let me put it in very simple terms.

If 10 scambaiters where baiting the same mugu and each as very commonly done baits the mugu from 2 acccount. The baiters would keep the mugu quite buzy trying to scam non potential victims.
If the acccount was closed, the mugu would just simply start again increasing the chance of hooking true victims. This is their work and some of them are professionals at the game.
So if the providers are not cooperative in creating a system to fight scammers. Closing accounts are just way to ensure that the scammer would be more successful.

And I have no problem. but beign anal retentive like you seem to be, is a problem.

Just my humble opinion

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:33 am Reply with quoteBack to top

@ komsomol

I think we are looking at the problem from two totally different paradigms. I respect your position and appreciate your well thought out responses. There are defiantly two ways to look at the problem. It seems that the eater is opposed to closing accounts, and I agree with the populous.

This can be equated to a (and forgive me if this is inappropriate) Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice debate. I don't think you can convert the faithful on either side.

I will say that I appreciate your logical and civil debate.

I submit my argument as a relative n00b here and respect your tenure, but I must call it as I see it.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:34 am Reply with quoteBack to top

rumbero wrote:
And I have no problem. but beign anal retentive like you seem to be, is a problem.

Well, thank you.

mrsbean has raised some interesting points which I at this point have decided to follow up in private messages. Thanks to all who took the time to read my comments. I rest my case.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:24 am Reply with quoteBack to top

And I have no problem. but beign anal retentive like you seem to be, is a problem.
You don't need to attack someone personally for expressing an opinion, rumbero. You can consider yourself warned.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:30 am Reply with quoteBack to top

the idea of closing lads-accounts is completely crazy and the more experienced baiters know exactly why - we loose our well established connections we have to our lads. Closing (also on an "industrial scale") leads again to opening accounts (also on an "industrial scale") - a never ending spirale, a loosing battle. Full stop. Rolling Eyes

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 6:32 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Difficult question...
I will say mainly bad if someone else already bait him. But to protect some victims is can be good.
So, for my part I will say "acceptable if we know the content of pet box". About how to do the last one, it is another problem and I suppose we can't discuss about it in this forum due to legal implication Smile

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:48 am Reply with quoteBack to top

rumbero wrote:
Let me put it in very simple terms.

Once you've aquired about 10 % of Komsomol's expertise in this field you can try to be a smartass. Until then I'd suggest you to be glad you can learn something (theoretically that is). As for your anal retentive comment I think you've laid your cards and lack of education on the table. PM me if you don't agree with my assessment and let's get on with the thread. Evil or Very Mad

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 8:06 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I was a very firm believer in not closing boxes.

However, I bait lottery lads with the intention of getting their bank details and their fake websites. The moment I get the fake website I immediately have it shut down including the email facilities.

Closing their websites does cause them a lot of grief and also costs them money but in the process it does close their email addresses. Now I am asking myself why is closing their own domain email different from closing their yahoo email address.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 8:26 am Reply with quoteBack to top

  1. It takes them much longer to re-open the domain than to open a new yahoo account.
  2. Domain based email accounts are much more believable than yahoo addresses.
  3. Web sites are also much more believable, and you can't close down one without the other.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 8:36 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Thanks Thud, I knew there would be good reasons. Smile

So count me against closing free email addresses of non-phone lads.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:12 am Reply with quoteBack to top


Also, 4) It costs them money to set it up Twisted Evil

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:43 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I can see your point, but I am skeptical as to if we could get enough email providers on side to make it worthwhile. I have read your posts in the phone lads forum, and your idea certainly has merit in that field.

But overall, I am completely opposed to the idea, with the exceptions others have noted. There are simply better and more effective things we can do with lads addresses.

I must say, the tone of most people in this thread has been pretty good, we havent de-evolved into petty name calling. Once again showing how reasonable we can be.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:25 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Shocked And the bizarre pointless poll of the year award goes to...... Wink

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:09 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

@mrsbean - thanks for your comments. As to your first point, about the various difficulties to be expected with the providers. I agree, problems are to be expected in this field. They are definitely not fast enough when reacting to the complaints. Others choose to ignore the requests or reluctant to close down accounts only referred to by the captured email.

This is, however, a different scenario from what I was suggesting. This discussion is merely about whether or not closing down lad accounts in general is a good idea or not. Let's assume for a second that the method I was suggesting (closures via bulk reporting interface to the providers) would be one day implemented.

Once this point would be reached, your concerns (as above) would be resolved, at least partially. For example, the reaction time is expected to be significantly reduced, since one of the arguments in favour of implementing such an interface for the providers is cost reduction. Abuse reports fed into their system from a trusted source would need some 1% (or less) of the manpower to manage compared to the traditional abuse report processing, the latter probably being a very expensive process. In other words, once data reliability would have been proven, providers themselves too could shift to automatized processing. Data reliability in this context means that the reporting entity would not feed junk, invalid, corrupt, false positive or otherwise inappropriate data into their system. Based on what I know about this topic, I would blindly and willingly sign any contract about a reliability better than 1:10,000, if necessary. In other words, less than 1 reported email in 10,000 would be in error. This is probably a magnitude better than the employees in the respective abuse departments can ever reach, and that for just a fraction of the costs. Another argument for the webmail providers is brand reputation combined with customer satisfaction. I reckon this is self-explanatory, but I am willing to elaborate it if someone needs clarification.

mrsbean wrote:
I've also sometimes wondered if mass closing of accounts might not have the effect of sort of "herding" scammers toward the providers who never act on abuse reports

I am aware of that, and this IS an intended effect.

Of course, in an ideal world we could get every email provider around to cooperate. In reality we will be nowhere close to that. The roadmap thus is as follows: the first step is probably the most difficult, to persuade the first large email provider to accept bulk abuse reports and to process them accordingly. Once it is done, other large and serious providers would probably follow, because it increases their quality of provided services. As far as development costs go, we're talking about peanuts! Yahoo and some other large providers are billion dollar companies, and the development at hand can be done for a few thousand bucks at most.

Pounding on the lads' catcher accounts will, yes, herd them towards shittier providers. This alone is a nice effect, since shittier providers usually provide shittier service, which is more discomfort for the lads. But the major effect is that scamming will be more concentrated to fewer providers than it is now, especially off the major providers.

In terms of spam measurement, this would render the spam to non-spam ratio of the email traffic of these providers into a proportion where they would never want to go: in just a very short time, smaller providers frequented by the lads (driven away from the large providers) would be blacklisted completely! At this point this can lead to these providers taking action against them, that is, join the group and accept bulk abuse reports or to take appropriate measures to close down abusing accounts on their own. In this case the lads would be driven away again. Or, the affected webmail provider can choose to ignore the situation, in which case the globally established spam related domain blacklisting would remain in effect, effectively stopping most 419 spam from reaching their target.

mrsbean wrote:
After all, one of my largest mental hurdles to recommending that approach is the time and effort required to report it versus the relative ease with which a scammer can open up a new one.

This appears to be the most popular argument of you guys, and I'm sure this is not going to be the last time that I disprove it. Wink

The formula goes like this: the most minimal effort a lad can have is to create an account (takes 3 minutes or less) and then to do the spam run, which typically takes a few hours (ask me in PM if you want to know how I know this). Once their spam hits the spamtrap, an abuse report would be generated, the report transferred to the provider, and ideally the account would be closed down before any victim response could be sent. In this case the lad would lose a couple of hours of work, while on our side not a single click would have been wasted - once the system is up and running, it requires no permanent attendance. And this can only be worse for the lad, if the account wasn't just freshly set up, since potentially all the work done and all the content stored within would be lost on the spot. I already gave you a rough outline of what is at stake for them here. I take note that these points have not been disputed by any of you, let alone disproven.

There is more to write, and I will address all other concerns you brought up one after another, if you let me to.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:15 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I voted no, given the current state of things.

If this dead horse hasnt been beaten enough:

Closing accounts one by one seems like sand off a beach to me.

Though, I did hover over the "can't decide" and the "good idea" button for a while, I have to admit. Mostly because of Kosomol's articulate and well thought out points. Thank you for being willing to stand against the wind.

I'm not sure I follow arguments about how it's a big set back if your bait is trashed because an account gets closed, but a scammer can simply open another account somewhere. I would think in-progress scams would likely be interrupted in the same manner. And yes, they can start over, but maybe a few victims would be spared here and there.

On the other hand, smarter, more successful scammers probably do keep some kind of back-up or record of scams that are productive. And are probably engaged with baiters far less often than their weaker peers. So maybe closing accounts is just another way of hampering only the low-end scammers that do less damage as it is.

I might even argue that the really bad scammers serve a positive purpose in educating marginal, potential victims about 419 scams. I wonder how many people have almost fallen for scams but then wised up because they were just too poorly done to be effective.

Maybe baiters need a major paradigm shift to leave the dumbest of the dumbest alone, and only straight bait the pros.

But then scam-baiting would be a exercise in self-sacrifice for the greater good rather than the endlessly entertaining blood sport (with a positive social-good component) that it is. And the number of people willing to partake would drop, and the net value would be diminished. And wheres the fun (or good) in that.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 6:01 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Komsomol made some very good points. He has certainly made me rethink my own position (I haven't actually voted yet Smile ). Here are my conclusions...

Should I kill accounts when I find them? No, because I don't have access to tools such as the one that Komsomol describes, and spending my available time killing banks is more productive than killing thrower accounts one at a time, in my opinion.

Should I advise others to behave in the same way as me? Yes, if they are in the same situation as I am.

Should I insist that everyone behaves in the same way as me? This is where it gets interesting

Komsomol said that "This discussion is merely about whether or not closing down lad accounts in general is a good idea or not" and in that context his view is the right one, IMO. Technology on the scale that he describes would be a serious weapon in the fight against lads, and I would very much welcome its use.

I now realise that my poll question was far too vague. If a member finds a lad account and wants to close it down, s/he is welcome to do as far as I'm concerned. If it is done inefficiently, it's not really my concern, except to point out the inefficiency and encourage the member to find modalities that do more damage to the lads.

What I (deliberately) didn't say up front is that the poll was triggered because a few members (maybe just one) are closing accounts listed in the Surplus Letters forum. The poll question was a bad one, I now realise. What I should have asked is this - should we ask people to stop closing accounts that are posted in Surplus Letters?

Aside from the arguments about how much disruption closing these accounts can cause, and how many victims might be saved, there is one argument that persuades me that our newly stated policy (KEEP OFF the accounts in Surplus Letters) is the right one. This site attracts people into the hobby because scam-baiting is fun, and some of them move on to do serious damage to scammer operations. Effectively, we are a training ground for scam-fighters. However, in order to progress, new scam-fighters need help (advice, mentors - and targets). Accounts are posted in Surplus Letters to provide targets for other baiters, and the main beneficiaries are new baiters who haven't had time to seed guest-books. For that reason, I continue to believe that Surplus Letter accounts should not be closed.

Everything else is fair game though, in my (somewhat revised) opinion.

Incidentally, it is worth reminding novice baiters that they can protect themselves against losing a lad by ensuring that they get a second email address or a phone number from the scammer ASAP. Barrister accounts rarely get closed, IME, so the quicker you can make contact with the barrister, the safer your bait will be.

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And I can make it up for you
And lie" Ticket to Lie, by Texas
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"You'll be sorry"

Joined: 25 Jan 2005
Posts: 5880
Location: Planet X

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 6:27 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I'm only guessing, but if your lad is mailing you from: [email protected] You can probably assume he started somewhere around: [email protected] ?
They set up numerous accounts and mail stuff backwards and forwards so that they have a copy of all mails sent and received, for this very reason.

I think we've won the argument against? Wink

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419Eater is my life

Joined: 30 Nov 2003
Posts: 277

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 6:54 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

As to my own agenda, I wouldn't touch the Surplus Letters with a ten foot pole. I would be the last creature on this planet who wanted to put an end to your fun. Lastly, I wish to emphasize that I neither did nor do nor will dispute that baiting is a very good measure in scamfight against 419 scammers, albeit not the only one.

As to the Surplus Letters, however, I may direct your attention towards a certain ethical issue, just on a very hypothetical basis.

Just as a mind game, what if there was an agreement that only those surplus letter accounts would NOT be reported for abuse which would be claimed by someone for a bait? Then one day a victim would sign up on eater, and it would turn out that they have been scammed from the same account, while the baiter was having fun with the lad. (Again, you will have to PM me if you think that's a stretch - it is not, it happens more frequently than some of you might think.)

This guy would ask you a simple question: "Why for the love of God did you not have that account closed if you knew that it was being used by a criminal to find and fleece unsuspecting victims like myself? I've lost a significant amount and went through hell!" Would that baiter among you who would have claimed the surplus letter fess up and say something along the lines of...

"Sir, I am very sorry for your loss, I truly am. But you must understand that this site is about ridiculing criminals and we can't stop them without that, it's part of this social thing we do for the best of the world! We even have a policy here that no scammer account may be disrupted while someone is having fun with the scammer!"

Having read that, wouldn't this guy ask you if you are not by any chance a bunch of sociopaths?

Well, in fact there is no and there will be no such agreement that someone would have to claim surplus letters for baiting. For the guy if he came by would just ask his question and no one would have to take personal responsibility for what would have happened. But I don't think that this circumstance would make this ethical problem disappear.
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Ivor Grimey Colon
"Trophy slut"

Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 1339
Location: England

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:01 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

komsomol wrote:
This guy would ask you a simple question: "Why for the love of God did you not have that account closed if you knew that it was being used by a criminal to find and fleece unsuspecting victims like myself? I've lost a significant amount and went through hell!"
The answer to that would be that even if we had got the account closed, it wouldn't have prevented to scam from being run, nor the victim in question falling for it. Not reporting it and baiting it instead, we may not prevent all scams running from that account, but we stop the lad being able to scam as many victims as he would otherwise, as he's tied up with us.

I honestly don't believe there's an ethical issue here.

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