For many years, Hotheads has been running a honeypot email account to attract Internet scammers and it has been very successful. The prime reason for doing this is to learn exactly how the scams operate and keep an eye out for any new frauds and techniques that are designed to part stupid people with their money. There are many examples on the Hotheads website, but the most staggering and hilarious scambaiting exploit happened in July 2017.
To set the scene, here is a glossary of terms and characters in this exploit.
Even when a conman floats a scheme that is so transparently ridiculous and bogus that a complete imbecile would see it as being crooked, some people seem to be so stupid and gullible that they will fall for it anyway. There seems to be a never-ending supply of suckers with money, who are ripe for the plucking by conmen.
One of the most outrageous scams in recent times was perpetrated in Australia by George Balos, who conned nearly $11 million out of gullible investors by purporting to represent the Ministry of Finance of the Dominion of Melchizedek. Armed with very elaborate documents with crests and coats-of-arms, Balos was most convincing. However if you wonder where Melchizedek might be, you would have to get into the mind of Balos because this mythical country is nothing more than a figment of his fertile imagination.
Most amazingly, very few of the people taken in by the phoney investment propositions actually checked to see whether Melchizedek actually existed, but they just handed Balos millions of dollars on the strength of his persuasiveness and fancy paperwork. Of course Balos had no problem producing all the necessary documents to perpetrate his scams because he was already in the printing business.
It is hard to feel sorry for the mugs who were taken in by this scam because even a very cursory check would have exposed Balos immediately. Even though he wore expensive clothes, drove a Rolls Royce and as the Americans say, he "walked the walk and talked the talk", the very fact that his schemes were based upon a fictitious country with a preposterous name should have immediately triggered alarm bells in the minds of any person living in the modern world. George Balos was eventually exposed and jailed, but has rightfully earned his place as one of the more creative conmen of our time.
One of the oldest and most prevalent scams is also known as the Come and Carry Scam, where the prospective sucker receives an email purporting to be from a bank manager, auditor or other bank official. The email states that this bank official has discovered an abandoned fund or the account of a deceased bank client and that this banking official wants to present the sucker as the next of kin of the deceased client in order to get this fund transferred to him. Of course the sucker will be required to pay fees in advance to get these mythical funds and it is truly amazing how many fools have fallen for this nonsense.
Having received many hundreds of these Dead Bank Customer scams over the years, I decided to have some sport with these African scammers. So I composed the following email and sent it as a reply to many scammers.
Nothing much happened for quite a while, but on the morning of 09 July 2017, I checked the Hotheads honeypot email account and saw this:
I could not believe my eyes. Here was this scammer literally commandeering my silly bogus scam email and editing it for his own purposes. This idiot purported to be a bank official with a Mr Biggus Dickus of the Dominion of Melchizedek as his now deceased client. Once I stopped wetting myself laughing at this amazing event, I started to wonder about the utter stupidity of a scammer who could not be bothered to get onto Google and see if there really was a Mr Biggus Dickus or the Dominion of Melchizedek.
But then again, quite a few fairly rich and allegedly intelligent people fell for the scam run by George Balos, who believed that he was the emissary of the Ministry of Finance of the Dominion of Melchizedek. So if a bunch of very wealthy Sydney Eastern Suburbs toffs fell for this crap, it is quite understandable that an African scammer would believe that there really was a Mr Biggus Dickus from Melchizedek, whose bank account was being handled by Mr Goofy Dogface from Kreplechistan.
The one thing that I have found when running the Hotheads honeypot email account is that there are many stupid people who really do deserve to lose their money, especially with the Come and Carry scam. Essentially, this scam involves conning suckers into falsely misrepresenting themselves as legitimate next-of-kin or beneficiaries to a deceased estate. So when they are eventually fleeced by scammers, they cannot even complain to police about it, because what they thought that they were willingly doing was a very serious crime.
So with this exploit, Hotheads has well and truly succeeded in getting a scammer to put out something that is genuinely funny. Of course anybody who receives that scam email about Biggus Dickus really does deserve to be scammed for their stupidity.