Plotting with 419Eater.com
I somehow spent an hour or so this weekend reading various ‘baits’ in the PublishYourWork forum over at 419Eater.com, a site devoted to the art of scambaiting (if you’re not familiar with scambaiting, read this post by Tom Whitwell at The Times Online).
As I read through the threads, I was surprised at how scambaiters talk about their work. Scambaiters use specific terms to describe what they do: a ‘lad’ is a targeted scammer, a ‘trophy’ is something the scambaiter receives from the lad, a ‘mark’ is a victim of a scammer (known as a ‘mugu’ in scammer circles apparently), and so on.
I was also impressed with how involved some of these ‘baits’ are. A few of the better scambaiters put a lot of effort into working the scammers: they play multiple characters, from clergymen to hackers to other scammers; they do their best to send the exchange into odd twists; and they often wait until the right moment, just when the scammer has done all he thought he needed to do in order to get the money, before revealing the hopelessness of the situation/play their trick/etc.
Take, for example, these two baits: ‘the mark of a moron,’ in which the scambaiter convinced the scammer to get a tattoo, and ‘a very naughty porno-bait’ (NSFW). It’s a lot of reading, but I linked to these because I think it’s really kind of fun to see how the scambaiter and scammer work so hard to defeat each other; both plot constantly to get something from the other: the scammer wants cash, and the scambaiter, well, he or she wants ‘trophies.’
If you’re patient and would like to try scambaiting, 419.com has some tips (first, sign up for an anonymous email address). And I’ve pasted below Freytag’s Pyramid for your basic plotting needs. And remember to have fun! A new story is just a click away (most likely in your spam folder)!