The Scambaiting

If you live under a rock, you might not know about the wonderful world of phone scams coming out of India.  They come in all forms, IT scams that charge way too much money to fix your computer that is perfectly fine.  Social Security Scams, where the caller claims to be special agent [Insert most generic American white guy name here] and threaten you with arrest if you don’t hand over your hard earned cash in the form of Google Play gift cards (Seriously not making this shit up).

What if I told you, there’s an entire community online dedicated to baiting these scammers?  Their entire purpose is to keep the scammers on the phone as long as possible, wasting their time so they’re not scamming other people who might be more gullible.

They’re called ‘scambaiters’ and while I am not an active member of the community, I do enjoy spending some of my time scambaiting.  I have been doing it for a fair few years, every now and again, usually forgetting to record my calls, or being in a position where I can’t.

However, just the other day I was able to capture an entire call that lasted well over 3 hours.  Here is a short clip of the exchange.

To put in context, this scam was an arrest scam.  The scammer claimed to be a federal agent, and informed me that someone was using my identity to send large sums of money to Colombia.  He asked me if I had any idea who might use my identity; and thinking on the spot, I came up with this.

There are some methods I use to make the calls last so long, keeping them listening.  

    1. Tell a story with irrelevant details
    2. Don’t stop speaking
    3. Anytime they begin to speak, talk over them
    4. Mix real experiences with fictional ones to create a believable and memorable story
    5. Take notes on the important details

I think that last two points are critical here.  While I never told the scammers my real name, names of other people, or my address; I used names that sounded similar to people I know or knew, and a backstory that matches that person.  Of course, I didn’t know a Michael Vargas who was involved in gang activity. But I do have a childhood friend with a similar name, who I would smoke some devil’s lettuce with as a teenager.  It also helped that my friend was actually from South America.  When I had the image in my head of a person, it was easy to tie a fake story to it and remember if I was asked about him later.

Addresses are another thing I fake well.  I gave them an address I lived at when I was a kid.  I was able to describe the neighborhood in great detail when they asked me questions about it.  Picking a random location on a map is fine, but it helps to know the area well.

My favorite part about it is the talking.  Just ramble on and on.  When they ask you about your bank account, go on a tangent about how the bank is ripping you off with high interest rates, how you’re considering switching to a new bank, but it’s farther away from your house….  You get the idea.  If you don’t give them too much talk time, you can stretch the call endlessly.

But yeah, have fun with them if you dare.  I always think wasting the scammers time is incredibly fun.