Sign up ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

So I've recently found out about scam-baiting, and I've discovered a whole community around just wasting the times of scammers, such as 419Baiter and TheScamBaiter.

A lot of the people there are quite passionate about it. Some have set up fake websites, banks and stuff in order to fool the scammers.

Most also think that what they do makes a difference by wasting the scammer's time and effort and acting as a deterrent. My question is, does it?

Mostly it seems to take more time and effort for the scam-baiter. So given the number of scammers out there, it doesn't seem like it could ever scale to be an effective solution.

Furthermore, if it was successful as a deterrent, wouldn't it be in, say, the FBI or Google's best interest to start producing software that automatically baited scammers in order to waste their time?

Lastly, these schemes seem to have increased not decreased.

Can anyone actually offer any research which suggests that scam-baiting is an effective deterrent and that the scam-baiting has a measurable effect in lowering the incidence of internet fraud?

Source of notability:

share|improve this question
scammers will barely do anything in the chain manually once everything is setup and that is a onetime deal. – ratchet freak Apr 22 '12 at 2:21
how much do they have to set up? I imagine the initial spam email was be automated but responding to victims will have to be done manually as they seem to be able to answer questions – Samuelson Apr 22 '12 at 2:54
Please add an example of someone making any of these claims. Where do they say that this is a successful and scalable technique, rather than (a) fun for them and (b) an annoying time waste to a single victim? – Oddthinking Apr 22 '12 at 3:01
Hmm, a better solution might be to bait in potential victims and give them a good scare + teach them a lesson, IMHO. Then they'd be less likely to fall for a real scam. – Bizorke Apr 23 '12 at 23:27
Heh - it doesn't appear to make a difference, but it can be good fun! – Rory Alsop May 7 '12 at 7:55

1 Answer 1

While scambaiting itself may only affect scammers on an individual level, the other activities at scambaiting communities do curb the overall success of scammers. Scammers set up fake sites, which scambaiters systematically work to catalog and report. Many scambaiters work with, which keeps a public database of all scammer-created websites used for advance fee fraud. This information will show up in internet searches and likely alerts many victims to the fraud. Scambaiters also take steps to try to attract more than their fair share of scam spams, and list the information on their anti scam sites. Having engaged in the scam as a fictitious victim, many scambaiters are quite expert at how the scams work, and often uncover the latest versions of scams and scammer techniques. These scambaiters run associated victim support and education sites, spending countless hours providing free, real-time advice to thousands of people.

Some of the best proof, however, that scambaiting is making a difference is that these sites are targeted, repeatedly, by DDOS attacks. Anti fraud sites have high hosting costs because they need DDOS mitigation. Scammers wouldn't spend time and money on attacks like this if the scambaiters weren't making a difference. See: And Online Thugs Assault Sites That Specialize in Security Help

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.