Are There Times You Should Respond to Scammers?

3 questions about responding to scammers: Internet ScamBusters #126

Internet ScamBusters™

The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

By Audri and Jim Lanford

Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford

All rights reserved.

Issue #126

Hi Everyone,

Today we’re going to answer the question:

Are there times you should respond to scammers?

In addition, we’ll give you a few resources for reporting phishing scams.

Let’s get going…

Are There Times You Should Respond to Scammers?

This is one of the most common questions we receive. In fact, last week we received

three representative questions that all deal with different aspects of this issue.

Here they are:

Question 1: I responded to a scam for the fun of it, and I ended up getting $35

from a Nigerian scammer! I think it’s a good idea to respond to scams: otherwise

only the pigeons respond, and the scammers can focus on them with no worries or


Question 2: Dear ScamBusters, Great work. Keep it up. I don’t wish to add unduly

to your inbox, but I have a little question, which I am sure has occurred to many

of your subscribers.

Is it at all worth replying to scammers, either in terms of "I know what

you’re up to" or "I have passed your letter onto the relevant authorities"?

Indeed, is it worth forwarding scams onto the police, or the organizations (banks

etc.) that are being impersonated, or to any central collating body of scams?

Many thanks.

Question 3: I believe I am being scammed by a variation of the Nigerian scam.

A man from Nigeria contacted me several months ago and said a family from Nigeria

died with no family to claim their properties and I could claim $4.5 million because

I have the same last name.

I thought it as a joke for a while. He asked me to send money for various documents

and forms needed. He said he is a lawyer. I refused to send money and he left

me alone for a while.

Recently he contacted me again saying all fees were paid by him, they just needed

to send me a check for $150,000 for me to deposit then return to them as a trust

building agreement. Since then, they have actually called my home from a Canadian

province. I live in Canada.

I don’t think it is a joke anymore. My wife is in fear that I may have put my

family in danger.

Are we in danger and how do I make this problem go away?

Answer: We continue to *strongly* advise that you don’t respond to scammers and

spammers. Many of these people are not pranksters — they are criminals.

It is not a good idea to get them angry — you don’t know what the consequences

will be. We believe it’s simply not worth the risk.

The Nigerian scam is perhaps the most dangerous. People have died or have gone

missing from this scam. (This has happened when they traveled to Nigeria.)

We recommend that you just delete scam and phishing emails when you receive them.

As for the subscriber who sent Question 3: We can’t know how dangerous this situation

is — it depends entirely on the individual scammer. It may simply blow over or

it could become a serious problem. We recommend that they contact their local

police department for advice on how to proceed. If they don’t get adequate help,

they should contact the appropriate regional or national Canadian agencies.

One more point: Just because a call seems to be coming from Canada (or any other

location for that matter) doesn’t mean it really is. Scammers are using prepaid

cell phones that may have a ‘local country’ phone number, even if they are in

Nigeria (or elsewhere) in the world.

Or they may be using a common caller ID ‘spoof’ to make you think they are calling

from your country. So, the scammer may or may not really be calling from Canada.

As for where to report phishing scams: The Anti-Phishing Working Group is collecting

these emails. You can find instructions on how to submit phishing emails here:


PayPal has a reporting page if you’ve given your PayPal info to a suspicious website:


Finally, you can find lots of other spam

reporting resources on our popular page dedicated to what to do if

you’re a victim of fraud.

Time to wrap up. Have a great week.