Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Advance fee fraud (419) reply-bot

"My husband, the ex-president of Nigeria..."
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The structure of the communication between the scammer and scammee in advance fee fraud (or "419") scams is fairly simple. The scammer makes a plea, the scammee responds sceptically but sympathetically, the scammer brings in a "lawyer" and so on, until they settle on the final value of the advance fee which needs to be paid, and the foreign city in which this will be handed over (sidenote: the UK's National Criminal Investigation Service says that on any given day there will be 5 Americans waiting in London hotel lobbies for Nigerian "419" fraudsters).

All of this communication is nicely structured and well constrained in terms of scope and subject matter and hence well within the abilities of a good 'conversational' AI program.

So, when you receive a scam email, direct your Advance Fee Fraud Reply-bot at it. This will shift the conversation to its own (junk) email address and alert you (perhaps months later) when the fraud has run its course (except no one showed up for the meeting with the scammers, of course) and there's an amusing transcript of emails to read.

As a added bonus, if enough people did this, it would tie up the scammers resources somewhat.
hippo, Feb 26 2004

The 419 Eater http://www.419eater.com/
All your 419 are belong to us. [Detly, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Urban Legend Bot http://www.halfbake...rban_20Legend_20Bot
closely related idea by [madradish] [krelnik, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

meme filter software http://www.halfbake...20filter_20software
another related one by [egnor] [krelnik, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Scammers not always sucessful http://news.bbc.co....hnology/3494072.stm
Now serving nine years, the longest sentence ever obtained by the Fraud Squad, Adeko was convicted of multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud, forgery and counterfeiting. [Gordon Comstock, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

[link]






       [tsuka] I don't think the scammers are ever in the hotel lobby. They've already done a runner with the advance fee. It's the greedy gullible scammee who's waiting for the loot to turn up.
Gordon Comstock, Feb 26 2004
  

       I don't know how much longer I can wait with my baited breath. Just awful.
thumbwax, Feb 26 2004
  

       //I don't think the scammers are ever in the hotel lobby.//   

       Oh yes they are. *link*   

       The advance fee is not always the scam itself. Sometimes, they lure a person across the world, and hold them for ransom, or try other such extortion techniques.
Detly, Feb 26 2004
  

       //on any given day there will be 5 Americans waiting in London hotel lobbies for Nigerian "419" fraudsters//

A-ha! So doesn't this provide good, British kidnappers & fraudsters with a divine opportunity to make some dosh? Simply by hanging around in London hotel lobbies they can bag themselves a never-ending supply of stupid American people who can be extorted out of their hard earned dollars. And the best bit is that all the evidence about who committed the crime will point towards some unknown Nigerian scammer.

Now then, where's me boot polish and me djellaba?
DrBob, Feb 26 2004
  

       This may be a bad time to say this, but my name is Mr Scabawalawagarus. In my bank account I have US $a squillion dollars.   

       If you write back to me I'll give you 130% of this as I need to get the money outr of the country I live in (called 'Nevernever land'). But first you must give me your account details, your credit card number, your favourite slippers and your wife. I'll give them back though - maybe.   

       Oh by the way I am the son of the defence minister for blind cats in neverneverland, and rebel forces are about to hold me down and pull my earlobes really hard unless I send you wads of dosh. Please help me.
britboy, Feb 26 2004
  

       At the appropriate moment, the bot might mention that the advance fee is all ready to go but that local law dictates that administrative charges on money transfers to certain countries must be paid in advance by the receiving party -- so if the Nigerian princeling could see his way clear...
Monkfish, Feb 29 2004
  

       If people don't see a scam when they're looking at one... how many would actually get the software you propose?... The people who actually get it would be the only people who don't need it? -
Ossalisc, Mar 01 2004
  

       But, [Ossalisc], this has nothing to do with scam-prevention. It's just a device to irritate scammers.
hippo, Mar 02 2004
  

       [britboy], I am not fooled by your scam. Want to know why?

IT WASN'T ALL IN UPPER CASE, THAT'S WHY. THAT, AND YOUR SPELLING AND GRAMMAR ARE RELATIVELY ACCURATE.
English Bob, Mar 02 2004
  

       But what about the greedy suckers? I mean, they are the only reason these guys are not yet out of business, right?
kambai, Dec 29 2008
  

       As a member of an online MMORPG that originated in China, I'm often annoyed by the lack of English skills on their website: rampant "Chinooblish" as it were. But...   

       Last year, people whose forum account info pages contained harvestable e-mails were sent phishing letters, pruporting to be from the company and requesting account details... standard scam.   

       They were ignored by all amidst much e-snickering... why ? the phishers used reasonably intelligible English.
FlyingToaster, Dec 29 2008
  
      
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