3 questions about responding to scammers: Internet ScamBusters #126
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
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 distractions.
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?
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.