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 Split from Radio show thread: Ethics of the Chad Bait

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Slightlyoutofit
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 8:07 am Reply with quoteBack to top

npr_listener wrote:
Thanks for the response. Could you (or someone else) explain what you mean by "social engineering" in this context?


For our purposes it normally means baiting the lad in such a way so that you get hold of his passwords. So your definition is pretty good.

Ethics is without a doubt a strong subject here, but even stronger is the Law. We can never step outside of the boundaries. Sometimes there may be grey areas where we can push a little but in the black and white areas we have no choice but to comply.

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irishemigrant
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 9:35 am Reply with quoteBack to top

As far as I'm concerned, after seeing and talking to the victims we get at Scamwarners, anything that happens to a scammer is still short of what they deserve

So they go to Chad? Well whoopee! I hope they wrote a Top 10 Destinations Advert

They get stranded? Well shucky darn, they should have read the newspapers about the war there

They get shot at? Hello? they didn't read the newspapers?

I'm quite happy to see lads burned, crucified, tattooed, humiliated, involved in bestuality, arrested, tortured, killed

They are scum, and deserve nothing less than what ever a good baiter deals to them

Just my personal feelings mind you, nothing to do with Eater or the ethics thread

edit: I don't bait, my personal beliefs cause conflict with it, I deal with the victims, whoever causes harm to the people I deal with, deserve anything that happens to them

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 10:50 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Yep - it takes a whle, but once you've done this for a time, any sympathy you have for these scammers soon melts away,

I had some misgivings at the outset, but it didn't take long to understand a few salient points.

1) - these scammers are not impoverished starving people living on the brink of poverty. Heck - how do you think they can afford to use internet cafes and go on safari ?

2) - their religious fervour does not include following any of the 10 commandments.

3) - they are quite happy to scam people poorer than themselves - not just Westerners, even their own countymen.

4) - if they can get money stealing it out of the hands of a charity trying to alleviate poverty and sickness in their own country - they'll do it - the NOMA Charity being a prime example.

5) - if you have no sympathy for people who fall for their scams - then maybe you are a meaner person than I am and many of the baiters here.

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irishemigrant
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 11:10 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
- if you have no sympathy for people who fall for their scams - then maybe you are a meaner person than I am and many of the baiters here.


Quite frankly, if you don't feel sorry for the victims we see, you are definitely in the wrong forum, Eater deals on two fronts, with Scamwarners and here, if you are serious about this, call into Scamwarners, it will allevieate all those doubts you may have about the poor lads trying to struggle through life in Lagos

They are SCUM!!!!!!! No first second, third thoughts, what ever happens to them is richly deserved.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 11:30 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Slightlyoutofit wrote:
For our purposes [social engineering] normally means baiting the lad in such a way so that you get hold of his passwords.

Thanks, I understand that definition. I don't understand how cash baiting would lead to it, though, as Dorothy indicated. (Sorry, I'm probably missing something really obvious.)
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smartbomb
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 11:46 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Ive only just come acoss this thread and i'll be buggered if im gonna trawl through all 15 pages.

Dirk my friend, you appear to be speaking from your trouser trumpet.

As interesting as your OP was, its way too misinformed for you to even dare comment on the ethics of baiting and to generalise us all the way you did. Try researching the topic beforehand next time you try and peg us all to the same line.

These scum have no morals and think nothing of robbing anyone and everyone for all they have. Children, sick people, financially desperate people, you name it, they've been scammed. To say to me that because I divert their attentions away from people like this and keep them busy running in circles makes me no better than them, well then you really have no idea what your on about.

The Chad bait took baiting to new and previously unchartered territory, and in doing so sent out a message to scammers everywhere. So he had a hard time, what about the hard times he's brought upon people ? oh yeah, thats right, LOL at them.

As irish said, hit scamwarners and educate yourself a little.

Yes we do it for fun. Yes we lie. Yes we decieve. So how else would you suggest we go about it ? Ask them nicely to stop it ? Come on .....

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:06 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
Could you (or someone else) explain what you mean by "social engineering" in this context? I thought it meant impersonating a trusted party to gain access to information, but my definition doesn't make sense in the way you're using it.


Sorry if the social engineering comment didn't make sense--I actually go back to the definition of social engineering from before it became an internet phenomenon--which basically involves the use of knowledge of sociology to achieve a goal. When it became an online phenomenon, knowledge of human behavior started being used to obtain information, or it may be to influence behavior, not just to get passwords. Some of the latest virus attacks--for example, the ones that contain a supposed UPS attachment, are actually considered social engineering (at least in some of the articles I have read about them)--the subject and attachment title are carefully chosen. In that case, the target is not to get personal information, but to get the user to open the attachment.

In this case, I was saying sending money that to me sending money crosses the line because it is the same kind of approach--using the knowledge and understanding of the effects of intermittent reinforcement on behavior (this is not new information--I remember being taught how intermittent reinforcement actually leads to a faster and longer response in a social psychology class in college many years ago) to manipulate the scammer into doing something. Obviously a lot of baiting involves manipulation of some kind, but as you can see from the boards, the scammers may respond very differently to the same approaches. Sending money would be taking it a step further, and using a known behavior modification technique that would probably bring a more consistent response, just as choosing a certain subject and attachment name in an email increases the likelihood of the infected file being opened.

So really I was trying to say was that it involves the same type of tactics and knowledge that the social engineers use, and I believe that may be why the thought just doesn't feel "right" or "fair" to some people.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 8:04 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

To Professor So and So and Yeawhatever:

I heard the story on NPR today...and I just wanted to say Great Job!

I laughed so hard....and personally, I do not condemn you for anything.

I think everyone should do this as much as they can. The more scammers that get get scammed...the less scamming there will be.

If scammers knew that every one they tried to scam would in turn scam them, they would go away!

Keep up the Good Work.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:46 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

maxx wrote:
A part of me thinks that if scamming became a dangerous endeavor it might actually discourage even the hard core from doing it.


As with smoking or aeroplanehijacking? I do not think so Sad

Collider wrote:
Usually discussing baiting ethics means discussing if it's ethical what baiting does to a lad. But I guess it's of secondary importance compared to what baiting does to you. Using deception to make living toys out of people is bound to do something to you, even if they're scammers. That said, I don't want to sound like the original poster. It doesn't stop me from baiting, after all.


I like this observation. It makes me think ...

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 5:41 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Welcome cowtown!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 6:05 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

irishemigrant wrote:
I'm quite happy to see lads burned, crucified, tattooed, humiliated, involved in bestuality, arrested, tortured, killed

Regarding any unattended lad carcasses:

Quote:
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:37 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Hello all,

I'm another who found out about this bait, this site, and the whole culture of scam-baiting on This American Life. I got totally sucked in - I've listened to the interview three times, read all the way through the Adamu thread, I'm waiting breathlessly to see what's going to happen to Famous, I'm stunned the Miracle Network is still in Chad, etc.

I once messed around with a scammer for a week or two playing an insane man, but I had no idea the activity existed in such an organized form. What blew me away about that bait, as well as the Miracle Network bait and the Stanley baits, is just how rich the invented world is. I almost lost track of the point of keeping Adamu out there and just wanted to know what Hamden would do next, or exactly what kind of new zaniness was going to take place in the church of TWAT. It's inspired fiction. It's like Internet trolling writ large, but for a good purpose. I love it.

Ethics in general
Anyway, this ethics question is really interesting. I don't think there can be much wrong with straight baiting, but I think where you come down on the Chad bait is determined by how you feel about vigilante justice as a whole. If the rule of law is more important than justice, and you're uncomfortable with people taking the law into their own hands, you don't like it. If justice is more important than the rule of law, and you don't need a judge or jury to dispense it, you do.

Ethics of this bait
I enjoyed this bait, but I could see how people would be really concerned by it. It's definitely fringey. Adamu and his brother are scammers and criminals, but putting them in danger of their lives seems beyond the pale.

But, at the end of the day, I don't think the baiters put them in that danger. This truly is baiting, the baiters didn't drive Adamu and his brother to Abeche, Adamu's eagerness to steal money from a church did. In some other thread, one of the three (YW?) used the analogy that baiters throw bags of money off a cliff and the scammers jump off. Is it the baiters fault that the scammers jump? I don't think so.

The original poster here used a pretty nasty analogy to To Catch a Predator earlier that I thought was way off.

Quote:
DirtMcGirt wrote:
. . . It would be more akin to tricking a child molester into coming to your house, then raping them with a broom handle.


It's actually not like that at all. To follow this really yucky analogy to its tasteless conclusion, let's assume the child molester is the scammer, an underage girl is the big cash payout, and being screwed by a broom handle is a safari in Chad. The analogy really is that the baiters promised the pedophile a chance to molest a 15-year-old girl if the pedophile first took a ride on a broom handle. And, go figure, the girl doesn't really exist. Too bad about the broom handle, pal, maybe you shouldn't try to take advantage of underage girls.

The pedophile chose to ride the broom handle in this scenario, motivated by the chance to molest an underage girl. Just like the scammers chose to go to a war zone, motivated by the chance to steal money from a church performing humanitarian work. Same thing. The criminal's crimes destroy him - it's poetic, really.

Sorry about the analogy. It's pretty nasty, but I went with what was already outlined.

Sadism?
The most interesting thing about the OP was the reference to sadism. I guess there are points when people were chuckling over Adamu's potential death that I got a little uncomfortable. I don't doubt that a few here can be a little sadistic. But I totally disagree with the blanket statements made in this thread. I've read a few of the other threads, and I don't get a strong sadistic feeling here.

The OP didn't do himself any favors with his self-description, either. He basically portrayed himself (herself?) as being a complete jerk, without remorse, morals, etc. He liked the bait for the pain it caused. And he said it as if being a thoughtless jerk was something to be proud of. Well, congrats DirtMcGirt, you're a despicable human being. I don't want to know you, and I feel bad for the people who do.

But don't assume that everybody shares your particular issues, don't ascribe your motivations to others, and don't assume they are lying to you or themselves if they actually have a soul.

Victims
A bunch of people pointed this out, and it's why he got suspended anyway, but this disregard for victims is just crazy. It's the one thing that drove me nuts about the TAL interview too. Victims of 419 scams aren't always (or even usually) greedy or stupid. Most of the scams don't involve victims ripping people off. Most of the time it's something that, if taken at face value, is totally legitimate or even a nice thing to do (i.e. sending money to help the renter who needs their fraudulent deposit back). That's not greedy. At most it's naive. It could be a result of a trusting or compassionate person who hasn't built the hard veneer of cynicism most of us have built up to survive today. These are bad qualities?

My grandmother suffered a stroke a few months ago - it was a small stroke, and she has almost completely recovered. But evidently she was not herself for a few days, nobody knew, and a Jamaican man happened to catch her on the phone and had her on the hook to send her a lot of money. He was posing as her son, my uncle, who just happened to be the first person to catch her in that state and realize something was wrong. He picked up the phone as the scammer, pretending to be him, called.

Thankfully, this blew the deal. But I shudder to think of what could have happened. I would guess people who fall for 419s are rarely greedy, and to characterize them as suckers who should know better is completely outrageous.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:42 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Welcome, Stackson. If all your posts are as articulate as your first, you'll do well here. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:49 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Great post stackson. I only wish I had got it as ethicaly sorted as quickly as you did, It took me a few years to truly find where I am as far as how I feel about baiting.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:31 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I may be in the minority, but I see no ethical dilemma with putting scammers in harm's way for the purpose of minimizing the threat they pose to the vulnerable people at large. What separates us from the scammers is we don't bait "potential" targets. We go after those actively trying to rip people off.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 12:52 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Dorothy wrote:
to me sending money crosses the line because it is the same kind of approach--using the knowledge and understanding of the effects of intermittent reinforcement on behavior
[...]
So really I was trying to say was that it involves the same type of tactics and knowledge that the social engineers use, and I believe that may be why the thought just doesn't feel "right" or "fair" to some people.

Thanks, I understand what you mean, now. I think my unease with the idea of cash baiting is also about level playing fields, but in my case it's the relative disparity of what a few dollars means to us versus what it might mean to a scammer. The idea that a renegade baiter might be tempted to *pay* a scammer to send a photo or some other trophy makes me itchy.

Strangely, the relative cheapness and speed of internet that we enjoy does not "feel" like an unfair advantage to me. Go figure.

It's just so fascinating to see the different things make people (including myself) tick.

Thanks again, everyone, for your patient, insightful responses to my impertinent questions!
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:18 am Reply with quoteBack to top

As baiters, we make the punishment fit the crime.

The scammers think they can get rich by lying, cheating and deceiving others.

We show them that their lying, cheating and deceiving can also lead to a world of pain -- what better way to make them have second thoughts about what they do?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:44 am Reply with quoteBack to top

This whole thread can be summed up for me with one troll-ish comment:

DirtMcGirt wrote:
You have the same discussion because the basic moral and ethical issue will never be answered.


So if that's the case, why the raise the question? Rolling Eyes

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:25 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I dont see much of a moral problem with putting a scammer in danger, the main reason for this is that it is not the baiter putting them in danger it is ther scammer themselves.
Adamu did not have to go on the safari and no one here could have made him but he wanted to go in order to rob the church and on the way he had some (mis)adventures,

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onyenekwu
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 8:48 am Reply with quoteBack to top

The ethics issue on this board still stands questioning,there are a lot of grey areas and people do use that and assume its morally justified to do so.
I do not see the need to bring scammers parents or siblings into a bait.
I do not see the need to get into a scammer's email and assume that all his contacts are scammers as well.

And at this age people still generalise,about Nigerians all being scammers.

Scammers and their sympathisers are never in the main stream in the Nigerian society.One of my sisters refused to marry a guy that was rumoured to be a scammer and he lives 7000kms away.In some communities they are treated like hardened criminals, and most Nigerians have had a run ins or lost something to scams.

An average Nigerian is educated and by the standard of grammer I see in the scam emails,I think its just hemp smoking bus conductors on sabbatical having a go at english language.

I know people want to justify whatever they do,the scammers try to do theirs by offering fossilized banalities of repatriation, slave trade compensation, burning the greedy,likewise some baiters throw morals under the bus and go the extra mile.

Hey I dont support terrorism,neither do I support water boarding terrorists to get them to fess up.
So many instances I have read where innocent parties have been lured into getting involved.Famous for one example will soon have his naked pictures pastered all over the web for no good reason whatsoever.
I followed his chats with 'Anita', aside from wanting to get his rocks off, I dont think he is a scammer.
In that part of the world,where everyone has got so much time on his hands,you really dont need to prod much to get somebody to cross over.
I really do not wish that baiters help the undecided to make up their minds.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:04 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Just about everything you've written is misguided.

onyenekwu wrote:

I do not see the need to get into a scammer's email and assume that all his contacts are scammers as well.


We don't get "into a scammer's email" and we don't assume "that all his contacts are scammers as well". That said, the circles they tend to swing in, the majority of their contacts are scammers.

Quote:
And at this age people still generalise,about Nigerians all being scammers.


Not here on Eater. You only have to look to see how many times there have been slaps handed out to people who make that generalisation.

Quote:
Scammers and their sympathisers are never in the main stream in the Nigerian society. In some communities they are treated like hardened criminals, and most Nigerians have had a run ins or lost something to scams.


Not in my experience. Scammmers are a daily aspect of life in Nigeria. They are a part of mainstream society wether you like it or not. Look at many of the news reports or visit a few Nigerian forums. Most Nigerians on the net are at best apathetical or at worst supportive of lads. That's no generalisation - do a simple bit of surfing and you'll discover this to be true.
As for being "treated like hardened criminals"? Again, wrong. Go read Old Coaster's post in the Ethics thread.

Quote:
I think its just hemp smoking bus conductors on sabbatical having a go at english language.


Scammers come from all sorts of educational backgrounds. I've seen University graduates and the "hemp smoking bus conductor " types.

Quote:
I know people want to justify whatever they do,the scammers try to do theirs by offering fossilized banalities of repatriation, slave trade compensation, burning the greedy,likewise some baiters throw morals under the bus and go the extra mile.


Big difference. The slave trade argument that the scammer uses is a lazy, false one. The majority of baiter arguments aren't scraped together. They're analysed, discussed, argued over. Very rarely is an ethics issue "thrown under the bus", even though the last statement of yours that I've quoted seems to suggest that you support doing so.

Quote:
Famous for one example will soon have his naked pictures pastered all over the web for no good reason whatsoever.
I followed his chats with 'Anita', aside from wanting to get his rocks off, I dont think he is a scammer.


Then you think wrong.

Quote:
In that part of the world,where everyone has got so much time on his hands,you really dont need to prod much to get somebody to cross over.
I really do not wish that baiters help the undecided to make up their minds.


For you personally, advice may not be an issue. But what about everyone else? People ask questions because they want answers.

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Eight
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:38 am Reply with quoteBack to top

onyenekwu wrote:
Scammers and their sympathisers are never in the main stream in the Nigerian society .... In some communities they are treated like hardened criminals, and most Nigerians have had a run ins or lost something to scams.


You're entitled to express your view, although I disagree with much of it, and I am not going to waste your time or mine rehashing the arguments that have already been made here. I will say, though, that I firmly believe that the comment of yours that I have quoted above cannot be true. I sincerely wish it were, except for the part about Nigerians being scammed, of course. If most Nigerians were being scammed and/or the population as a whole were so antagonistic to scammers, there would be much more pressure on the government to act, and less of the tolerance or turning a blind eye that is apparent from Nigerian chatrooms and elsewhere. The myth that all victims are greedy, gullible, rich and deserve to be ripped off is perpetuated by those who, according to you, are themselves likely to have been or to have known victims. That makes no sense.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:08 am Reply with quoteBack to top

My mind phases out whenever the slavery issue is mentioned, even if it is done so obliquely.

The fact is that there is barely a civilisation on this planet that didn't practice slavery at one time or another, and it started inevitably with its own people.

As far as the UK goes, hardly anyone has ancestors who were not slaves of the ruling nobility - hence there are people with the surname 'Freeman' denoting their change of status, and that discounts the two occassions when Roman and French invassions (1066) made us slaves in our own country.

Slavery in Africa was going on long before the West knew of its existence and it was interesting for me to find that even after its abolition, the UK had to send gunboats out to Africa to try to halt its continuation by the locals.

That aside, the involvement of family and siblings is surely the responsibility of the scammer.

When in a foreign country I respect and observe the customs and practices of those people, even if I find some of them less than appealing. However the internet has given people the chance to reach out across borders and bring their practices into the homes and lives of innocent people.

I have either had a mind fart, or this whole argument forgets that CRIMINALS are being treated like messengers of the Gospel. A criminal contacts you and we should show them the respect they deserve ? I certainly do that. I'd prefer to taser the culprit, but failing that I respond, which undoubtedly makes his day, and is what he wanted.

Our argument is - 'they don't have to respond' and that irritates the scammer most, because that is his argument, and he hopes by relying on the majority to remain inert to be able to move on to concentrate on his more promising victims. Only supporters of scammers and their thievery ask us to ignore their scams to allow them to feast unmolested on their prey.

Criminals should be allowed to go about their thievery unmolested ? - don't make me laugh.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:26 am Reply with quoteBack to top

onyenekwu wrote:
I do not see the need to get into a scammer's email..

This is strictly against Eater policy, and is never condoned.

onyenekwu wrote:
And at this age people still generalise,about Nigerians all being scammers...

The 'race' card is often used to condemn baiters, but I always find it interesting the reaction that other Africans have when I tell them that I have Nigerian friends.
Without fail, I am told to be careful because Nigerians cannot be trusted.
The icing on the cake is when I chat with a Nigerian and reveal that I know other Nigerians.
Again, I am warned, the reason, because "most of my countrymen are scammers"....

Nigeria has a chronic PR image, and that can only be addressed from within the country itself.

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