Hilarious ways people have messed with email spammers
You get an email that’s flowery and formal from Mr. John Kennedy (the one who works on an Alaskan cruise ship) stating that he is looking for either a long-term relationship, marriage or possibly a business partnership with you. Could this be THE one?!
Or, you find out you are the descendant of a fabulously wealthy relative who has gone to great lengths to find you–you can now quit your job and pursue your dream of Olympic curling! Or you must update your eBay details right away or you’ll never win those paisley culottes you’re bidding on. Then there are the cousins of Nigerian astronauts stranded on secret Soviet military space stations who simply need funds to return home, which seems totally legit until you detect a few dozen spelling errors in the first sentence.
Though you’re wondering how on earth you wound up on the radar of these spammers, you have to admit, some of it can be genuinely original stuff which is often priceless because–as they say–you cannot make this stuff up! While most people slap a thumbs down, shoot it off to the junk folder and move on, others have engaged with the spammers, oftentimes going out of their way to create fictitious accounts to lure and then banter with the enemy. Some have perfected their comedy routines and turned Spamming into high sport, with hilarious results. These are a few of the tactics of those who decided to have a little fun with it and fight fire with fire–or to put it more accurately–fight b.s. with even more bizarre and creative b.s.
The art of messing with email spammers revolves around the concept of cleverly and elaborately wasting a massive amount of their time.
They’ve thrown a line and believe they have caught a live one. Spammers are a little like those guys who stand on street corners whistling at women and assuming 99 out of 100 will tell them to piss off, knowing there’s always the chance one person stops and engages them and takes them up on their offer, much to their own surprise.
Spam is generally free to send, in bulk. Because it’s so easy and cheap to send in huge numbers, it has a much higher chance of being effective. As Mailcleaner points out, “Look at it this way, ‘if just one out of every 50,000 people who gets an email falls for it, that may be enough for the spammer to make a profit. For financial scam emails, scammers can probably make a good payday if just one in a million people fall for their trick and sends money.”
One English comedian has found personal amusement and internet fame going out of his way to spam the spammers, even writing a book, Dot Con about his adventures with Nigerian princes and the like. This excerpt would have made a great Monty Python bit:
Dear friend, My name is John Kelly. I am 59 years old man. I am in a hospital in Dubai. Recently, my doctor told me that I would not last for the next 6 months due to my cancer problem (cancer of the lever) I am giving my money away because of my health condition and the fact that my second wife is a terrifying woman to deal with, marrying her was the only mistake I made in my life. She's currently managing my company here but I know what she's capable of, she has sold her soul to the devil and I do not want her to come near my money. Regards, John Kelly --------------------------------------------------- From: James Veitch To: John Kelly John, I'm so sorry to hear of this. Cancer of the lever can be deadly. Your second wife sounds awful. How did she sell her soul to the devil? Are you sure it's your lever and not your second wife poisoning you? Make sure you check your food before you eat it. James --------------------------------------------------- Dear. James Veitch, I am delighted to read your email. I must trust in you base on the information from you. My wife is a very wicked woman who want me death so that she can inherit my wealth. I am praying to God to extend my life. John Kelly --------------------------------------------------- From James Veitch To: John Kelly John, I had an idea while I was in the bath this morning. When you sit down to dinner, say ‘look over there’ or something and when she's looking the other direction, switch plates with her. That way if she’s poisoned your food, she'll be eating it. James Veitch --------------------------------------------------- I feel sad when ever I talked about her. I need you sincere assistant to help me to move and invest the sum of 9 million dollars. Our business discussion must remain strictly confidential and my wife can never know about it. --------------------------------------------------- From James Veitch To: John Kelly John, Forget what I said before. Don't do the plate switcheroo. She's crafty. She might have anticipated the plate switching and already switched them. So don't switch the plates. James Beach
James ends up contacting Libberty Law, John’s representative in matters of assisting those who want to move the 9 million pounds for him.
Dear Libberty Law, John’s having the op’ today. Just in case things go pear-shaped, he's willed 9.2 M to me to spend “as frivolously as possible.” Can you get in touch and let me know how I can best receive the money? I've run up a sizable water bill that I need to pay off ASAP. All best, James
It sort of goes on from there, until he pommels them with enough inane chatter, finally cluing them in and they ultimately realize they’ve been had. For more fun with James and his interactions with a prince who would like to ship him some gold, check out this video in which he engages an email penpal in Nigeria and the game, as he says, was afoot:
One gentleman who managed his company’s “info” account at a previous job got involved with an email interaction that spanned over a month and proved comedy gold. His story:
One day the account received a scam email, saying that an inheritance was owed to the person named ‘Info’ at this account. I sarcastically responded ‘Oh, did my favorite aunt die and leave her fortune for her dear nephew Info?’
To my surprise the scammer responded, addressing me as Info and explaining that it was not my aunt, but that there was an unclaimed inheritance that I was eligible to collect.
Astounded that this person believed my name was ‘Info’, I also became very curious as to how the scam worked. At what point would I be asked for money? So I continued our correspondence. The man, Robert Gavin (some emails were signed Gavin Robert), was a solicitor. He had a few fake documents, such as a driver’s license and registered business number.
He kept me going for several weeks, telling me about the legal motions he was filing, the waiting periods that would have to occur. I kept writing back as ‘Info’, a poor but earnest young man working his way through college.
When my ‘money’ was almost ready, he told me he’d need to see some ID to fill out some final forms. Seeing as he already thought my name was Info, my estimation for his intelligence was not high. I sent him a picture of the ‘McLovin’ driver’s license from Superbad. To my surprise he didn’t question this at all, his only objection was that my driver’s license was expired, Superbad having come out many years ago at this point.
Now operating under the name ‘Info McLovin’, I was willing to put in a bit more effort. I photoshopped a fake ID with the name Info McLovin, and even put together a phony resume. My cover was almost blown when I left my address as ‘123 Fake Street’, but I managed to convince him that it was a leftover from the template and I had forgotten to change it. I listed my address as a local head shop, and my phone number to a fraud hotline.
None of this clued the guy in that Info McLovin was not entirely on the up and up. Finally, after about 4 weeks of correspondence, he asked me for money. Part of the rules about inheritance in the UK (he claimed) was that he had to run an ad in the newspapers for a month to see if any relatives claimed the inheritance before it could pass on to me.
My original question, “Where does the scam come in?” was answered, but I wasn’t ready for the saga of Info Mclovin to end. I began putting off his request for money, saying that I couldn’t afford it. I tried offering him a huge sum of money. Since I was going to inherit about 12 million pounds, I’d give him 1 million after the fact if he’d just cover the cost of the newspaper ad. That wasn’t possible, sadly.
I tried deflecting him by expressing doubts about his credentials, enraging him into asking if Info Mclovin had ever gone to high school. Finally, after 6 weeks of back and forth emails, I couldn’t string him along anymore and he was about to give up on me, so I told him the truth and sent him a link to the Mclovin fake ID scene from Superbad.
Robert Gavin (Gavin Robert) informed me in all caps that I was a ‘looser’, and the saga of Info McLovin ended.
If you like the idea of wasting their time but you have no time of your own to waste, use a chatbot app like Spamnesty, to automate email interactions with your most annoying spam frenemies. All you need to do is remove any personal information of your own from the email exchange, forward the spam on to the Spamnesty email address, and then sit back and have some LOLs as a chatbot pretending to be a CEO gives the scammers a run for their money. For entertainment, you can read through some of the conversations and see the flowery politeness of the scammer deteriorate into frustration and downright bitterness. Yay! Some chatbots cycle through various personalities to get the job done and have reportedly replied to more than a million emails, wasting roughly five years of the spammers’ time in total, which is pretty brilliant.
As entertaining as these far-fetched and often insane emails can get, individuals and businesses can buy an anti-spam filter should they choose to stop nuisance emails before they can reach your inbox and cause damage. Set up a free account with a service called SpamCop which claims it can eliminate up to 99% of spam and offer protection against viruses and cybercriminals. For more tips on how to fight spam check out this article. Another review site vets different software, detailing which is optimized for Android, Mac, mobile, etc.
How effective is fighting spam with your own creative spam? Wasting the perpetrator’s time is definitely costly for companies that pay employees to interact and engage in an effort to get you roped in. And if punking the punks satisfies your sense of cyber justice and inserts a few LOLs into your day there is value in that as well.
Our only advice is to be sure you do this safely, never using your work or personal email. Create a pseudonymous account so you don’t divulge personal details or anything that could link to your location or true identity.
And by all means, be funny, like this last gem from James, responding to Winnie Mandela, the second wife of Nelson Mandela, claiming that she needs to transfer $45 million out of the country because of her husband Nelson’s health condition. He wrote back, “Winnie, I’m really sorry to hear of this. Given that Nelson died three months ago, I’d describe his health condition as fairly serious.”
You really cannot make this stuff up. But you can make your own stuff up, and have a heck of a good time wasting your time wasting their time in a new and bizarre pastime unique to our modern era.
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