Friday, August 5, 2011

How to Own an Email Scammer

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2011 at 1:16 PM

click to enlarge joel.jpg
An email scam artist recently made a serious mistake: He mistook North Coast Journal cartoonist Joel Mielke for a fool. The scamming scumbag had somehow managed to hack into the email account of a man named Thom, who happens to have Mielke among his contacts. Pretending to be Thom, the scammer sent the following message:

Hello,

How's everything on your end? This has had to come in a hurry and it has left us in a devastating state. We traveled to London,England for a Voluntary Training Program (VTP), and unfortunately for us all our money and cellphone was stolen at the hotel where we were staying by four armed robbers. The Embassy only cleared us of my traveling documents since we came in on unofficial purposes. The hotel telephone lines were disconnected during the robbery incident,so I have access to only emails.

Our return flight back home is scheduled to leave in few hours from now but we've got to settle out bills before we're allowed to leave....Now we freaked out....Please we need your help..

Hope to read from you soon.

Thanks and Regards

Thom [last name redacted]

Immediately recognizing the message as an advance fee fraud, aka a 419 scam, Mielke rubbed his hands together in a conspiratorial manner, arched an eyebrow of justice (in my imagination, at least), and said via Facebook, "Let's see if I can make these pricks jump through some hoops!" Behold the masterful string-along:

How can we help!?
Joel

Glad you replied back, we have nothing left on me right now and i am lucky to have my life and passport save it would have been worse if they had made away with my passport.

Well all i need now is just 1200USD, you can have it wired to my name via Western Union i'll have to show my passport as ID to pick it up here and i promise to pay you back as soon as i get back home. Here's my info below.


Receiver's Name -Thom [redacted]
Amount- $1200
Location - 272, Coriander Avenue, Docklands, E14 2AA , London United Kingdom

Email me the transfer info as a soon as you get the money done,(transfer details and MTCN #)

I await your reply soon.
Thom

Praise the Lord Jesus you're okay! How are Bugs and Murphy handling the stress? Does Trishy have her meds?I'll have to wait for Barb to get back at noon (our time), since all of our banking is done on her computer.
Joel

Thanks for the Response,

We are all fine ....Keep me posted with the Transfer info as a soon as you get the money done,(MTCN #  and other transfer details.)

I await your reply soon
Thom

As you know, my old college pal Agnew lives in the suburbs of London. Surely he could give you some cash and I'll wire him a refund when Barb gets back.He lives over near Oxford (not far from London). I'll send his address after I call him. Hang tight, buddy!
Joel

We have been advised for our safety not to go far from here....... Am so sorry. I just Figured out you can have the Money Wired online using your credit card at www.westernunion.com

Please keep me Posted.
Thom

I understand. I'll have Agnew meet you in London.
Joel

The Police told us not to see anybody for our safety. Please we have Limited Time Here. Please, Help me wire the Money Online...
Thom

You, of all people, should stay away from the police! I trust that you didn't tell them anything, and what are you doing out of the country at a time like this?Don't worry, Agnew is a barrister and he has assured me that his transaction with you will fall under client-attorney privilege.Whatever you do, DON'T TALK TO THE POLICE!
Joel

omg......you Kidding me>??? as soon will you get the money sent?

Barb called--she's on her way. She said she'll wire you as soon as she gets here.
Joel

Ok. Please Keep me Posted

She's back. She says that Western Union is a ripoff. She wants to use Paypal.
Joel

there is no way i can withdraw paypal here. All i can use is western union...Am tired of your cunning, Let me know if you are willing to help or not...
THom

Cunning? What's gotten into you, man? You know how much Barb hates you and your whole family. If you weren't a deacon in the church, she wouldn't help at all.I'll find another wire service. She claims that Western Union is Mormon-owned.
Joel

Ok.
Let me know as soon as you get the money wired.
Thom

Transfer done!
Joel

Please get back to me with the MTCN confirmation number. we have missed our return flight.

While parallel parking on Saturday morning, Barb was rear-ended by an idiot of a soccer-mom in a preposterously ginormous SUV. Sound familiar? No shit, your ex-wife Trina! Now Barb's got to wear a neck brace indefinitely while we're milking the insurance, but don't worry, it won't cost you dime one.Anyway, at the hospital I wasn't going to mention anything, but you know Barb, she told Trina the whole story. Trina was apoplectic to hear that you are traveling, I thought her IV was going to pop out!I tried to cover for you, explaining that this was a business trip and that you were a crime victim, but don't be surprised when her divorce attorney calls (hey, totally not our fault!).Anyway, you should answer your cell phone. I've transferred the money, just call and I'll give you the MTCN.
Joel

ok thanks,
Please get back to me with the MTCN number.

Dude, HELLO, the MTCN # is on your cell phone.
Joel

It's been two days since "Thom" sent his last message. No doubt he's moved on in search of easier marks. But the above exchange stretched over four-plus days in an expertly executed example of "scambaiting." If you're unfamiliar with the term, here's how the folks at 419eater.com describe it:

So what is scambaiting? Well, put simply, you enter into a dialogue with scammers, simply to waste their time and resources. Whilst you are doing this, you will be helping to keep the scammers away from real potential victims and screwing around with the minds of deserving thieves.

Bravo, Mielke.

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About The Author

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns

Bio:
Ryan Burns worked for the Journal from 2008 to 2013, covering a diverse mix of North Coast subjects, from education, politics and marijuana to human suspension, sex parties and amateur fight contests. He won awards for investigative reporting, feature stories and news coverage.

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