Do you chuckle every time you check your spam mail and you see all of the messages that tell you how the beneficiary of a large sum of money needs your help in securing the funds?
Or how about the one where you only need to pay a "registration fee" to free your $1.5M USD funds that await you in some other far-off land?
By now, we all know that these are scams, designed to take your hard-earned money. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play with the scammers, just to waste their time and prevent them from targeting others? There are sites that allow you participate in baiting the scammers, but that involves a bit of an investment in your time.
Now, however, a new bot takes the work out of fighting back against the scammers.
New Zealand's Netsafe Organization has devised a simple and clever way to respond to these scam messages. It is called REscam, and all you need to do to participate is to forward any of the scam messages to ME@rescam.org, and the bot gets to work, engaging in a phony conversation with the scammers with an endless stream of “questions and anecdotes” so the scammers have less time to pursue other people.
When you forward a scam message to ME@rescam.org, your personal mail address is protected by a proxy account used to respond to the scammers. When you forward the message, you will receive a response from Rescam.org, and you may unsubscribe if you do not want to receive any communication from them, however, you may still submit as many scam messages as you like to the rescam bot.
I have known about the NetSafe organization from years ago as part of the Safe and Secure Online initiative, which seeks to educate young folks about staying safe on the internet. With Rescam, NetSafe has come up with a clever way towards protecting us all simply by slowing the criminals down. This is an organization worthy of our support!
This is not the first use of a bot to combat online predators. A few years ago, a "Virtual Lolita" known as Negobot was developed to engage sexual predators. Chatbots have become sophisticated enough to pass the Turing test, essentially fooling people into thinking the bot is human.
The next time you get one of those annoying messages from someone who wants to romance you, or wants to shower you with fortunes, don't just press the delete key, forward that message to ME@rescam.org.