This came up on Buffaloblogger's site,but I thought I'd post something here. How many times have you received one of those emails from a faraway land; Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Benin, e.g., claiming to be written by some heir to some African throne who's in exile, or some ex-official from a bank or oil company? They claim to have tens of millions of dollars or euros waiting in a vault or a suitcase or a bank somewhere, but they need your help to get it. They'll give you a nice, generous cut of the money for your trouble. But many people soon discover that an advance fee is required before you can claim your share. Since you're the Westerner with the contacts and freedom of movement, you're expected to put up some good faith money on the deal. You're asked to pay for "demurrage" fees, bribes, and other inexplicable, never-ending fees. You're asked to wire the money via Western Union. Ultimately, you'll discover that there's isn't any vault, there isn't any money, you're not in for a cut of anything, and the Prince you've been emailing with is some street trash hanging out in a Lagos internet cafe. This is known as the "419" scam or "advance fee fraud" scam. 419 is the section of the Nigerian criminal code that deals with this. You should stay far, far away from these people, who have been known to be dangerous. You should ignore these emails at all times... ...unless you decide to turn the tables and scam the scammers. Scambaiting is a growing hobby, and one in which I've dabbled myself. You can set up an alias and string the scammers along, promising to help them, but never following through. Their frustration can be your amusement. The best "trophy" a scambaiter can expect to receive is persuading the scammer himself to send some "good faith" money. Most scambaiters, however, enjoy the cheap and hilarious thrill of getting their "mugu" "pets" to send bizarre pictures of themselves holding up oftentimes hilarious signs, to "prove" their identities. Instead, sometimes they show off their horrific photoshopping skills. For more information and some fun scambaiting stories, visit www.419eater.com. You'll be glad you did. For the best scambait I've ever read (apart from the Church of the Painted Breast), read about the p-p-powerbook. A guy was trying to sell his Powerbook on eBay. A scammer in England wanted to scam him out of the Powerbook without paying for it. (He offered to use a fake escrow service). So the guy played along, and ultimately sent the scammer this: You really do have to read the whole thing. It's hilarious.

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