A question about ethics.

Some of you reading this bait may be questioning the ethics of tricking 419 scammers into dangerous regions of the world. I have heard many opinions from well informed, well intentioned people. Some have no problem with tricking scammers like this, others are completely horrified by the thought. I obviously have no problems with this. Let me explain why.

I started scam baiting in November of 2005. I am relatively new to this. When I first started scam baiting, I was like many other "noobs". I thought it was simply funny to get the crooks to pose for stupid pictures, fill out silly forms, and other assorted time-wasting activities. As I continued to bait, I got more involved with it, more that I ever thought that I would. I eventually found myself in contact with actual victims of 419 crime. This is when I started to take a much more serious attitude about baiting.

In early May of 2006, I was talking to a man in Naples, Florida. He is a real life victim of 419 fraud. He is a 53 year old disabled man whose house is being foreclosed on, is $153,000.00 dollars in debt and owes tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes to the IRS which, as anyone here in the US knows, is a debt that you may never get out of even with bankruptcy.

Just one year ago, he was contacted by a gang of 419 scammers. He was finacially secure and just looking for a way to be able to leave some money behind for his kids, when he took a job as a financial agent for a company that was having him collect checks from customers, blah, blah, blah....

This man was in tears and was seriously considering suicide. I spoke with him for nearly 40 minutes trying to talk him out of that. I would not be at all surprised if he were dead now. At the time I was talking to him, he was spending the last night in his home before being evicted the next day.

So, you may be saying to yourself, "yea, but these scammers that you are baiting here are not the scammers in your example". True. You would be totally correct in saying that. But if you read this bait carefully, you will see that they intend to steal everything they can, no matter who it was from. In this case, the scammers know full well that they are stealing from a priest who is using this money to save the lives of Sudanese families fleeing Darfur. So, am I going to lose any sleep if these guys find themselves in danger? No. Not for a second.

Third Party Involvement

Baiters like me have sort of an unwritten rule about not involving innocent third parties when baiting. The idea is that we do not pretend to be a real person that can be found by a scammer and thus, put this real person at risk. Some baiters have taken this ideal way too far in my opinion. In this particular bait, two of the scammers come in contact with UN security personel near some of the refugee camps in Eastern Chad. This helped verify the scammers' locations. Some baiters claim that this contact broke the 3rd party rule. Yet these same baiters will frequently send scammers on wild goose chases to Western Union offices to pick up non-existant money. What is the difference? None in my opinion. In fact, I think that scammers being in contact with security guards that carry guns, is less risky than putting these criminals in contact with low wage Western Union clerks.

Baiter Responsibility

I have heard people claim that the baiter would be responsible if the criminal being baited was hurt during the bait. If I had a bag of money, tossed it off a cliff, and a person jumped off the cliff after the money, would I be responsible for that person being killed? I would say no, even if I had a pretty good idea that the person was going to go after the money if I tossed it. I did not make the person jump. They chose to do it on their own. Did the person know that there was danger in jumping? Yes. This bait is no different in my opinion. The scammers knew well in advance that they were traveling into a dangerous region but chose to do it anyhow. And once again, what was their intention? To steal money from some of the neediest people on earth. It was their choice to do what they did, not mine.

I know that this little explaination will not change any minds out there. I just wanted to make clear what I think about this.

Let me also point out that there is no evidence that anyone was killed or hurt in this bait. In fact, there is more indication from news reports from the region, that the two scammers that may have traveled into Darfur are probably in jail somewhere.

So, try to rest easy about all this. I know that I will.

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