Artisan Marketing Communications offers clients PR and marketing communications advice, practical support and implementation.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Defeating the 419 scammers: a heart warming story for the festive season

The 419 scam is not new, but the problem is growing.

Cheap technology flooding into Nigeria and other west and south African countries has made the proliferation of such schemes endemic. It is a real problem that yields one billion pounds for the criminals yearly.

We are all too clever surely to fall for the scam, which works by promising vast amounts of cash for help to release a fortune stashed in a third world bank or a variation on the theme?

Well, some notable victims include a former congressman and a Brazilian banker. The New Yorker published the story, at some length, of John Worley, a respected psychotherapist and committed Christian who not only fell for the scheme, but also got charged with fraud and was sentenced this summer to two years imprisonment. He still owes $500,000.

While we might not have much sympathy for a “victim” that displays so much greed and gullibility, we must recognise that they play on our better selves. Many scammers pretend to be representing Holocaust victims, Pakistani earthquake victims or political refugees.

I think most of us would like to see these heartless scam artists punished.

Well, the Guardian featured a man whose life work is to entrap the scammers. I think a little heart- warming story is called for approaching the festive season. Mike Berry, a Manchester based IT professional, baits, ridicule and out cons the scammers. Helped by 23,000 members on his site he tricks scammers by inviting them to turn up at airports (often some distance away) that he has no intention of visiting or by stringing them along with promises of cash.

His notable successes include getting one criminal to write out a whole Harry Potter book by hand and photographing them holding you signs saying what they are: scum.

Mike has published a book that could be the perfect Christmas present: Greetings in Jesus Name! The Scambaiter Letters. A new past time for 2007? Maybe.

To read more about Mike’s exploits click here


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might need some truth added to your article.

9:50 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home