While you might be wise enough to delete or flag emails promising great wealth in far-flung countries, not everyone is so savvy to these scams.
To ensure these scammers have less time to prey on real people, New Zealand online safety organisation Netsafe has developed a tool called Re:scam – an artificially intelligent email bot which engages with scammers in mindless, never-ending conversation, full of unrelated questions that waste their time.
To use Re:scam, recipients of these emails need to forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’ll continually reply to the scammer in question, until they stop replying. To avoid detection, Re:scam is able to assume multiple personas, while using humour and grammatical errors as a real human would.
I just got propositioned by a ‘hot Russian’ date. So I said: pic.twitter.com/cnKnyV23bA
— Re:scam (@rescambot) November 10, 2017
In one example, a scammer asks for bank details in exchange for a $5 million dollar weekly payment and an opportunity to join their “great illuminati family.”
Re:scam responds to the email by asking if they have “a bingo night,” and offers to send bank details — but only one number at a time.
“We are really concerned about the growth of predatory email phishing, while victims remain essentially powerless,” CEO of Netsafe, Martin Cocker, said in a statement. “We feel the scale of the problem far outweighs the attention it receives, and we want to empower people to take action. Re:scam provides them with the opportunity to do so.”
So far, more than 20,000 emails have been sent to Re:scam to date, wasting a total of two months and twelve days of scammers time.
Go on, waste their time.