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 Newspaper articles about scambaiting -- Pennsylvania, USA

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Diana Prince
Master Baiter


Joined: 11 Nov 2008
Posts: 101
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:23 am Reply with quoteBack to top

SCAMBAITING --
the topic was featured in two page-one stories written by reporter Peter Kendron in a Pennsylvania newspaper on Sunday, February 22nd.
Primary source of information for both stories: our contributor luckey.

The Press Enterprise is a regional newspaper serving communities in northeastern Pennsylvania, USA; circulation: 21,601 / Sunday circulation: 21,745 .
Front-page headline, full-width of the page, above the fold (in newspaper world, prime story space):
“ ‘Scambaiters’ trick tricksters: Their goal is wasting con artists’ time,” continued onto page 6.
Additional story in a box next to the first one: “Satisfaction found in warning victims,” continued onto page 7.

Also on page 7, an additional story: “Crime fighters list common scam types,” referring readers to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov, and to ScamWarners.com .

Pictures accompanying the articles are: a scammer holding up an “ID-10T” sign; a scammer dressed as The Grinch with sign “The Lad That Stole Christmas” (baited by YeaWhatever),
and scammer “Ray King” holding a sign “am sorry . . . " (baited by Ima Baeder). All pictures credited as: “Special to Press Enterprise/419eater.com.”

PE reporter Peter Kendron had previously done a story on January 31st about three local individuals fooled by “the grandma scam” (grandchild allegedly in Canada needing money).
Also, on November 27th, 2008, PE reporter Chris Krepich had told how alert Wal-Mart workers and law enforcement officers prevented a local person from sending money in response to a Canadian lottery scam.

Although Peter wasn’t able to interview and highlight local scambaiters from the immediate area served by the newspaper,
today's stories contain important information which should serve as timely warnings, fully applicable to the regional audience.

Nice work, Peter Kendron!
Useful information generously provided by luckey, as the primary interviewee!
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DoraTheExplorer
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Joined: 18 Nov 2008
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Location: Magnolia, Mississippi


PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:49 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Very nice! Thanks for noting this, Diana.

Is there any way to see the complete articles?

Very Happy

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Diana Prince
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:04 am Reply with quoteBack to top

'Scambaiters' trick tricksters

By PETER KENDRON

Press Enterprise Writer

Somewhere in western Africa, a scammer thinks he's tricked an 18-year-old American girl into falling in love with him and meeting him in Nigeria to share a collection of antique coins she's stolen from her father.

Unfortunately, the "girl" ended up stuck in France because of customs problems. Now she's trying to find a boat to take her across the ocean, or maybe she'll swim.

The "girl" is really a 40-something engineer from New Jersey, whose main goal is to waste the scammer's time. He's a "scambaiter," one of thousands on the Internet.

Each day, as e-mail scammers try to lure unsuspecting victims into giving up banking information or wiring money, these scambaiters try to draw the scammers into their own traps.

Sometimes, the scambaiter tries to get a scammer to take a picture of himself holding a sign with an embarrassing message the scammer doesn't understand. One of the signs talks about "explosive" flatulence.

Sometimes, the baiter tries to get a scammer to reveal his own bank account number so the baiter can contact government officials and have the account shut down.

And sometimes, the scambaiter attempts to get their "lad," as the scammers are called, to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to a Western Union office where they promise a payment is waiting. But it never is.

The goal, said the New Jersey engineer, who goes by the screen name "Chris Martins" or "luckey," is to keep the scammer engaged as long as possible.

"I'm really captivated by the idea that people out to steal money from people could have everything turned around on them," Martins said.

An anonymous quest

Martins has been scambaiting for about two years, he says. Like almost every other scambaiter on one of the hobby's hubs, 419eater.com, he keeps his real identity secret. After all, he's in contact daily with people out to steal other people's money.

He uses an e-mail account that strips all information about where he is located, and he's created accounts specifically to receive and respond to scam e-mails.

It's not hard to get in contact with scammers, he says. It's as simple as making an e-mail address visible on popular message boards.

Martins said he receives 150 to 250 messages a day in the e-mail account he set up specifically for scambaiting, ranging from scammers trying to get money out of a war-torn nation to notices that he's won another country's lottery.

"You answer the ones that strike you," Martins said.

'Mike' and me

The scammer who he has spent the most time with is named "Mike." Martins said he first contacted Mike after taking his name from a scam e-mail.

Martins e-mailed him, playing the part of an 18-year-old college girl, doing a research paper on Internet scams.

"I think he was thinking he was much smarter than me, so 'I'll make friends with the girl and scam her out of whatever I could get,'" Martins said.

While he didn't help much with the paper, Mike declared his love for the girl "in three e-mails," Martins said.

Then, "he set up several classic pitches for money, including pretending he was in a car accident and needed money for medicine, wanting money for a visa, and asking me to send money for our apartment," Martins said.

He quickly dismissed those requests, but he did lead the scammer on about the wealth of "the girl's" family.

During those chats, Mike repeatedly has professed his love for the girl. But Martins doubts there's any real feeling other than greed.

"I never made my character appealing, and I've been demanding and rude to him from the first e-mail," Martins wrote. "The more money I seem to have, the deeper his love seems to grow."

Stringing him along

Then Martins concocted a story about the girl stealing her father's rare coin collection and fleeing the country.

The girl told Mike the coin collection is worth almost $500,000. Her plan was to fly to France, then to Nigeria to meet him.

Martins believes the scammer actually went to an airport in Lagos, Nigeria, to pick up the girl who never showed up.

His character later explained she had a run-in at customs and was trapped in France.

For now, Martins is happy to string Mike along, wasting as much of his time as possible.

He hopes to eventually lure the scammer to Ivory Coast, hundreds of miles from Nigeria, to meet the girl again.

Small victories

Martins knows whoever Mike is, he still has plenty of time to scam others.

But he said he'll settle for small victories, "If he sends out one less e-mail a day, or drops someone less promising than me."

Or maybe, "I'll put enough doubt in his mind that whenever he runs into a little resistance, he'll think this is someone just trying to jerk (him) around," Martins says.

Ethics

Still, the ethics of scambaiting can get murky.

The scammers, judging from pictures and correspondence at 419eater.com, are overwhelmingly black Africans. Meanwhile, many scambaiters are from predominately white countries.

And sometimes, scambaiters ask scammers to do humiliating things and take photos, like pouring milk and honey over their heads as part of a made-up ritual.

On the 419eater site, there's a long post explaining racism won't be tolerated. Unfortunately, it says, most of the scammers are from western or southern Africa.

"Everyone's got to have their own moral compass. ... I think the best scambaiters are not the least bit racist," Martins said. "They have a strong moral code and a sense of justice."

==============
Peter Kendron covers the Town of Bloomsburg and Bloomsburg University. Call him at 387-1234, ext. 1312, or e-mail him at [email protected].
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Diana Prince
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Joined: 11 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:14 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Satisfaction found in warning victims

While Chris Martins says he enjoys wasting scammers' time, he and others at Scamwarners.com are also trying to prevent people from becoming victims.

One of the most common ploys people fall for is a check-cashing scam.

A person may believe they've found a legitimate job cashing checks for a 10 percent commission. But what they're actually receiving are bad checks. Banks will often cash a check weeks before they find out it's a fake. By then, the victim has forwarded 90 percent of the money by Western Union to the scammer.

And the bank can come after the victim to make up the money it lost, Martins said.

Lured to foreign lands

Other cases can have much more serious consequences.

In a 1997 report, the U.S. Department of State said 15 people over three years had been killed by scammers after being lured to Nigeria. More have been held against their will.

But it's not just that African country where scammers try to lure victims.

Martins said he and others have prevented one elderly couple from traveling to the Netherlands to meet up with "bank representatives" after they got a tip that included the name of the fake banker.

A group of volunteers was able to establish by Internet searches that the bank didn't exist. After a number of calls and e-mails, they were able to convince the couple they had been duped.

"He probably lost money on whatever fees he had paid previously, and on his plane tickets, but he was extremely grateful for our efforts," Martins said.

'Knowledge is power'

Martins said working with Scamwarners means he's often the bearer of bad news.

"You can't get their money back for them" if they've already made wire transfers, he said. "It's a little too heavy-duty for some people."

His advice to anyone contemplating a job or business offer they found over the Internet: "Knowledge is power, if you're aware of how a scam works, you're untouchable."

So he suggested googling e-mail addresses that offers come from to see if they've previously been identified as part of a scam. And he said people should be especially suspicious of any offer that involves sending money by Western Union or Moneygram.

By Peter Kendron
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DoraTheExplorer
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Joined: 18 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:18 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Thanks again, Diana!

Nice job, luckey!

Very Happy

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luckey
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:29 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Diana did more than come across this article. She reached out to Peter, caught his attention, and did an excellent job of answering his initial questions thoughtfully and accurately. The potential for an article like this to raise awareness worth its weight in gold dust. Thumbs up

I'm actually quite surprised to see how much of what we talked about ended up getting printed. I think Peter did an excellent job of capturing the spirit of what we do here, and making it seem like I do more here than wasting my own time and making snarky remarks. Wink

The bait he describes in the article is here, for those who have missed it.



Edit:


Here are the actual pages, Eater trophy picts and all:

Front Page

Continued (1)

Continued (2)

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Scam Patroller
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:52 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Great piece, well done to all concerned Thumbs up

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dr stephen williams
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:27 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Nice work! Thumbs up I feel like saying, "Hey, I know that guy!" Thumbs up

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Dramaqueen
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:56 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Wow luckey your famous. Very Happy

Now everyone will come and read about your wild teenager who is a bit dangerous,lol.

Awesome job of getting the message out there, thats really wonderful.

Thanks Diana for drawing more attention to the cause and increasing public awareness.

Knowledge is power. You two are great messengers!

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Cachuma
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:57 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Outstanding article! Hopefully it will accomplish two things: a) raise awareness, so a few less people will get scammed, and b) inspire a few more baiters to inflict ever more lad pain, sucking up more of their time so they can scam fewer vics.

Smile

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Ima Baeder
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:13 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Excellent!! Great job, Luckey, Diana and Peter. Thumbs up

I'm happy to see the trophy from the Fake Peter Walter/RayKing/JulietJames being used. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:07 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Great job! Wink

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:09 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Nice job, all. Very Happy

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