Saturday, September 13, 2008

by Pa Rock

I had one of those NPR "driveway moments" this afternoon - I wanted to get out of the car - needed to get out of the car because I was in the Target parking lot and the Arizona air was well over 100 degrees - but the damned radio just wouldn't release me! NPR was doing a piece on "scam baiters," a group of talented techies who live for turning the tables on Internet scam artists.

This particular group of three young men from various parts of the United States specialize in putting it to the hucksters from Nigeria who show up in your inbox asking for help in getting their money out of Nigeria, or similar nonsense, and promise you a large amount of free money if you will only agree to help them out. After biting on their sweetly baited hook, they then advise that they will need a small amount of money to get the money transfer started. If that doesn't scare you off, they keep coming back for more until you realize that you have been had. Greedy, dimwitted Americans spent millions on this one scam last year.

These con-artists usually go scott-free because Nigeria is difficult for American law to access. The part of the Nigerian legal system that deals with fraud is the 419 Code - hence the name of the scam baiters website.

Today's NPR report talked of one particularly nasty ordeal that the three scam baiters put a conman through - sending him to Chad to organize a church in return for a large sum of money. Chad is a Muslim nation, and the victim was to organize a Christian house of worship. They even had him carrying a sign that was disrespectful to Muslims. By the time the fellow had traveled 900 miles to Chad on his own money, he was in too far to back out - and his handlers began to pepper him with other complications, in much the same way that he had presented complications to his marks back when he was in charge of the action. It was delicious turn-about!

The ordeal is recounted on the 419eater website. It's a tale for the underdog lover in us all!

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