No matter where you go in life, you're going to run into people who want to scam you out of your money. Whether it's online, through mail, on the phone, at your door or in a business setting, you always need to be on the lookout.
For most of us, spotting and avoiding a scam is considered a win. However, there are some people who don't just leave it at that. They like to engage with the scammer, either for personal amusement or to waste the scammer's time so they aren't scamming other people. Today, we're going to look at some of their stories.
1. The gold scam
James Veitch, author of "Dot Con," got a scam email one day from someone named "Solomon" and decided to play along. He ended up in a multi-day exchange with a scammer pretending to help move some gold into the country, finally leading the scammer into sending a totally absurd email.
You can see the full exchange in this hilarious video:
2. Microsoft Support scam
Even with the Internet, phone scams are still the #1 type of scam. People are a lot less suspicious of unsolicited callers than they are of unsolicited emails. And one of the more common phone scams is the Microsoft support scam. Learn how to spot it if it happens to you.
Basically, someone calls you pretending to be from Microsoft support and claiming they've detected something wrong with your computer. You just have to let them take control remotely to fix the problem. Unfortunately for these scammers, they sometimes call security experts who decide to play along.
The audio file below is an exchange between security researcher Steve Ragan and a scammer in way over her head. Ragan does a good job of pretending to be a clueless computer user before springing his trap. He even manages to avoid laughing at the woman's terrible computer terminology.
While having fun with scammers can be fun, they can also take a dark turn. One security expert messed with a scammer and ended up with a chilling death threat.
3. The great art swindle
The 419 scam, or "Nigerian" scam, is one of the oldest in the books. It typically revolves around working with a foreign partner to move large amounts of money or other expensive objects out of a country in exchange for a money wire transfer. However, there are plenty of variations.
There's are entire websites devoted to people who trick 419 scammers into sending silly photos of themselves in return for the promise of a payout. However, one user named Shiver Metimbers on a site called 419 Eater got a bit more elaborate. This is an older story, all the way back from 2006, but still a good one.
It started with a generic scam email, to which Shiver Metimbers responded with the alias of "Derek Trotter of Derek Trotter Fine Arts & Artists Scholarships." He explained that the only business deal he was interested in was art and scholarships.
Several days later, "Derek Trotter" got an email from one "John Boko" from Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. John was very interested in getting a scholarship. Thus began an exchange lasting for two months that saw John Boko ship two custom-carved pieces of artwork.
Unfortunately, they both arrived "damaged," which delayed the disbursement of the scholarship. According to Derek, one had shrunk due to the change of environment and the other had been damaged by an stowaway African hamster named Bert.
As to how the whole situation ended up, let's just say the police were involved, but not in the way you'd think. Read the entire amusing exchange. Just be warned it is quite lengthy.
Oh, and as you're reading you might start to wonder if John Boko really is just an aspiring artist looking for his big break. In the end Shiver Metimbers did some more digging and found that "John Boko" runs a global crew of 20 and pulls down around $45,000 a month from his scams.