Scambaiters: Meet the modern-day heroes who scam scammers
Both my ex-wife (Kris) and my current girlfriend (Kim) tell me I get too worked up about things sometimes. “You over-react,” they both tell me. Maybe so. I prefer to think of myself as passionate.
One of the things I'm passionate about is scammers. I hate them. Scammers are evil, evil people who prey on the most vulnerable members of society. They take advantage of social constructs in order to manipulate people into parting with their hard-earned money.
No surprise then that one of my favorite sub-genres of YouTube videos is “scammers getting scammed”. Scambaiters are modern-day heroes. As much as I despise scammers, I think scambatiers deserve high praise.
Today, I've collected together several YouTube videos (representing a couple of hours of viewing) that document, in an entertaining fashion, how scambaiters uncover scams, help victims, and are now actively working with law-enforcement agencies in an attempt to thwart the bad guys.
Scamming the Scammers
First up, here's a year-old YouTube video from Mark Rober in which he shows how he managed to use one of his famous glitterbombs to catch a phone scammer, who was then arrested.
Rober didn't do this on his own. He collaborated with some well-known YouTubers who specifically work to thwart scammers. Here, for instance, is Jim Browning's video about the above incident: Catching Money Mules.
And here's the Scammer Payback channel working with Rober. I like this video quite a bit, actually. It provides a lot of info.
But wait! That's not all! Here's another Rober video from a couple of weeks ago in which he documents his year-long quest to infiltrate the scam call centers in India in order to disrupt their operations (and, he hopes, to shut some of them down).
And let's wrap things up with Kitboga as he trolls a scammer into spending ten hours with him, eventually goading the crook into losing his temper in a nuclear-level meltdown. It's a thing of beauty. (Note, however, that the video is nearly ninety minutes long.)
I have zero patience for scammers. Zero. I believe they deserve the harshest possible punishments. But, as Rober mentions in one video, it's like playing whack-a-mole. You put one scammer out of business and five more rise to take his place.
In one of his sequels to Dune, Frank Herbert wrote: “Between depriving a man of one hour from his life and depriving him of his life there exists only a difference of degree. You have done violence to him, consumed his energy.”
Let's extend this comparison. If time is money (or, more precisely, money is a manifestation of the time required to create it), if money represents “life energy”, as the authors of Your Money or Your Life put it, then depriving a person of her money is also only different from murder by a matter of degrees.
Want more info on scams and how to prevent them? Here are some intersting articles and useful resources I've found over the years:
- How to avoid a scam. [U.S. Federal Trade Commmission]
- Scammers have bilked consumers out of $545 million in COVID-related fraud. [CNBC]
- Who scams the scammers? Meet the scambaiters. [The Guardian]
- Ten ways to spot financial scams (and how to defend yourself). [Bitches Get Riches]
- “I accidentally uncovered a nationwide scam on Airbnb.” [Vice]
Let me know if there are other videos or resources I should add to this list!