Mike is a "scambaiter," dedicated to fighting back against those who send out the notorious 419 e-mails, promising untold wealth to anyone gullible or naive enough to disclose their bank details.
Mike asked us not to use his full name because he's dealing with some heavy cross-border criminals.
Briefcase full of dollars those who fall for the 419 cons are hoping for millions.
His group of volunteers at 419eater.com use their computer skills to fool the scammers, to disrupt their crimes, and to have some fun at the scammer's expense.
But many other sites have emerged with Scambaiting stories. Take Scam O Rama. This site is a clearing house of information for scambaiting anywhere from the legal information to success stories.
The letters posted here illustrate attempts at ADVANCE FEE FRAUD. The sender claims to be a bureaucrat, banker or royal toadie, who wants to cut you, and only you, in on the financial deal of a lifetime.
In plain English, the writer claims to be in a position to skim public accounts. Hint: There is no money to be laundered - except yours. Palms must be greased. With your money. Generally in the form of a Western Union money order. A few K here, a few K there... eventually you get wise, and retire to lick your wounds. Dead military officer, dead farmer, dead bank customer, reformed murderer, imaginary request for bid, lotto prize, different countries... same scam.
Setting aside the writer's attempt to rob you and (going through the mental contortions necessary to take the letter at face value) to steal from his own country, the letters are funny. Read them out loud at parties and see. The 100+ letters below introduce the literary genre of the Lads from Lagos. Some people write the scammers back. See right column.
Many of us can't believe that people fall for this crooked techniques.
Most readers say "what an obvious scam!".
Some say "I was almost fooled till I saw this site."
A handful say "couldn't mine be 'real'?"
Stay safe out there!