Email Art / Scambaiting

2006 to 2010

Email Art / Scambaiting Statement: Tears of a Princess

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Anyone who uses the Internet will probably agree that email phishing scams are a nuisance. You've probably received more than a few unsolicited notices yourself, informing you that you've &won a lottery& to which you never bought a ticket; &inherited money& from a relative that you've never heard of; asking for your assistance to &transfer found money& to your bank account; or one of the other countless scams that criminals use to cheat and steal from others. (Google &419 Scams& for more information.)

Often the fraud attempt is quite transparent and we simply click the Pam button. Sometimes, however, the fraudster succeeds in finding an unsuspecting victim who believes his lies (it's usually a guy who perpetrates this kind of fraud). Most hapless individuals might lose several hundred or maybe several thousand dollars, but some have lost everything: their money, their home, their family and even their lives (through suicide). There is little or nothing that the law can do to protect us because Internet criminals often live in distant countries on the other side of the world. They rely heavily on the anonymity of the on-line world, which makes it all too easy to hide their true identities and base of operation.

In 2004, a group of vigilantes stepped forward to combat this online menace: they call themselves &Scambaiters&. A Scambaiter responds to fraudulent email in a conscious and deliberate attempt to draw fire from the criminal, waste his time, frustrate and generally infuriate him and, if lucky, get him to waste his own money. Some of these Scambaiters have published their exploits online in the form of transcripts and &trophies&. WARNING: Some of these trophy images are disturbing and, sadly, appear to endorse a racist point-of-view. I do not share these sentiments, nor do I consider them an appropriate response to scammers, many of whom are Euro-American. Nevertheless, when Scambaiting is done with care and creativity, it can become an &email performance piece& that sheds light on the psycho-social workings of the Internet, of criminals and of role playing.

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Click the link above to read an exchange of email, becoming surreal at times to force the criminal off his script, that took place from February 3 to April 21, 2009 between Jean-Claude Girroux, the on-line persona of Terry Reynoldson since 2006, and Princess Rose Kabore, the on-line persona of an anonymous 419 fraudster (probably a middle-aged male) who ruins lives without remorse or regret.

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