Vigilante strikes back at internet scammers

Written by Ryan Garside

October 16, 2006 | 17:20

Tags: #419 #nigeria #scam

An interesting article over on the Guardian caught my eye today. The article tells the story of a self-titled 'comedy-nerd' (Mike Berry) who by day works as a computer technician in Manchester but at night is a vigilante with a quest to stop the 419 internet scammers.

For those who don't know about the 419 scams then check out Wil's article from November last year. Hailing from Nigeria these scam-artists send out emails requesting that you give them your bank details so that they can deposit money into your account. Their reasons for doing this are numerous, some claim to be Kings hoping to get their money out of the country, others claim to be farmers hoping to flee for their lives, all however are scammers.

Angered by the rise in 419 emails Mike Berry, has decided to fight fire with fire. His strategy has been to provide false trails and fake acceptance emails in an attempt to clog up their inbox. The 'comedy-nerd' part comes into play when you read some of his responses. The best chain of emails I read from his wealth of stories can be seen here, I'll summarise it below:

Mike receives a typical email asking for money. Rather than trashing it he instead replies stating that he is working for a company that is trying to compile different types of handwriting. He tells the Nigerian (named Cyril) who sent it that he will pay $100 via a bank transfer for every A4 page of handwritten content as he is trying to compile a study of different hand writing styles.

Obviously quite excited by this, Cyril replies stating that he would love to take part in the study as long as he is paid. Mike (who is acting under the alias Arthur Dent) assures him he will be paid in full upon receiving a fully handwritten copy of the first Harry Potter book.

After a little back and forth in the emails Cyril agrees to do it and sends 249 hand written pages full of Harry Potter goodness to Mike expecting his big pay off. Mike then stopped correspondence and as you can imagine Cyril blows his top. The emails go on gaining in hilarity. If you're a fan of the Hitchikers Guide then I recommend a read.

We'd like to know if you've ever performed a similar prank on a 419 scammer - tell us about it in the forums.
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