The 419message board was started by a South African antifraud officer to gather intelligence from worldwide combatants, while London's Metropolitan Police said it began a "coordinated approach" this month to get tips directed from baiter sites to proper channels.But investigators warn the counter-criminals are walking a fine line."People do it as a hobby or a part-time occupation," said detective Sgt.Have you ever wished there was something you could do to piss off email scammers as much as they piss you off?If so, you’re in luck — welcome to the world of scambaiting, where Internet vigilantes waste the time of email scammers in imaginative ways. If I have interested you, with pleasure I shall tell about myself more in the following letter.The victims reported collective losses of .4 million, which is likely only a fraction of the actual losses since many victims are too embarrassed to file a report, the FBI said.About 70% of the victims were female; more than half were women 40 years or older.In one episode, which concluded in March after a five-month exchange, he succeeded in having a Nigerian fraudster tattoo "Baited by Shiver" on his body in order to claim a fictional ,000 prize."Another time, the scammer thought he was going to get ,000 out of me, but I actually got the guy to send me ," said Metimbers, who started the 419 Eater community site almost three years ago after receiving a wave of spam in his inbox."I've got between five and 10 on the go at any one time," Metimbers said."The worst thing that could possibly happen to these guys is they get their photo slapped on a website.
Other humor-heavy vigilantes include Bait A Mugu, the Scam Baiter.com, Scam Baits, Scamorama and The Billy Goat Curse."Shiver is exceedingly creative in getting scammers to allow their greed to override their judgment," said one disciple nicknamed mrsbean, a 29-year-old female IT worker from Kentucky who claims to have wasted months of organized scammers' time."It is equal parts theater, chess game, psychological study, crime prevention, education and vigilante justice; it's a battle of the wits," said mrsbean.
But a 419 Eater statement denies any racist agenda."When we get an e-mail, we've got no idea whether it's from a black or a white person," Metimbers said.
The master scambaiter, whose group's members adhere to an ethics policy and operate a victim-monitoring service, says the main aim is to educate people.
"I left my heart out there, and this guy took advantage of it," the 51-year old Best said.
In 2011, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received 5,600 complaints from victims of so-called "romance scammers" -- criminals who scan online dating sites, chat rooms and social networking sites for potential victims.
To some, internet scams looked like an easy way to bag some quick cash."The availability of e-mail helped to transform a local form of fraud into one of Nigeria's most important export industries," Nolte said.