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Scambaiting: The Funniest Thing You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

The YouTube algorithm has taken me to some really strange places. From cake decorating to celebrities who are actually child molesters to DIY hacks like using a toothpick to remove the little vein thingy from the shrimp, and everything in between. You name it. I’ve seen and clicked on it all. I have the time. We’re in a pandemic, after all.

And in May 2020, YouTube suggested a scambaiting video to me. It was a video of a man pretending to be an old woman (affectionately called Grandma Edna). And as this character, he wasted hours of the scammer’s time. The scammer was walking him through a refund scam.

In a refund scam, a scammer will call you pretending to be from some company that you made a purchase from, which, of course you will have no recollection of. They’ll tell you that because the company is going out of business or otherwise restructuring, you are now entitled to a refund. But long story short, there is no refund because it’s a scam.

At the time I saw this video, Kitboga had just under 1 million subscribers. I subscribed, too, because why not? His videos are addicting and I found myself binge-watching the rest of his channel. I watched hours and hours worth of scambaiting content.

Well, at a certain point, the YouTube algorithm starts picking up what you’re putting down. Based on my likes and comments, YouTube started suggesting a wealth of other scambaiting content to me. Who knew this was such a big thing?

Maybe, much like me prior to May 2020, you’ve never heard of scambaiting before. Simply put, a scambaiter is someone who knowingly and intentionally wastes the time of a scammer. They either receive cold calls from scammers and choose to humor them. Or, they have people submit scam call numbers to them so they can follow-up. Or, they do a mix of both. And when they call, the goal is to waste as much time as possible. They’ll let the scammers walk them through their silly scripts. They’ll let them log into their computers, which are usually just virtual machines. And most importantly, they’ll play along and pretend to actually be falling for the scam.

Think about it this way: if you’re a scammer and you realize someone’s not going to give you money, you’ll probably hang up. So scambaiters have to play the part of a gullible victim so they can captivate the scammer for a longer period of time. Ultimately, by the end of the call, the scammer realizes they’re not getting any money out of this deal, but it’s too late for them to do anything about it. Hours of “work” down the drain, for nothing. You almost feel bad for them. Until you remember they steal billions from innocent people annually.

And I’m not the only one eating this stuff up. The subscriber counts on some of my favorite scambaiters’ accounts are nothing to scoff at:

  • Kitboga — 1.1M Subscribers
  • The Hoax Hotel — 220K Subscribers
  • Jim Browning — 1.73M Subscribers
  • Scammer Payback—134K Subscribers
  • ScammerRevolts — 787K Subscribers
  • Trilogy Media — 198K Subscribers
  • IRLRosie — 458K Subscribers
  • Pleasant Green — 380K Subscribers

And why wouldn’t this be a thing?!

The videos are funny (if you’re into the prank call type stuff).

I’ll admit, prank calling was a big thing when I was younger. And I was very much into it. But it’s all fun and games until the cops show up… (Note: This never happened to me, but it’s happened to people I know!)

Aside from the scammerbaiters pretending to be senile, hard of hearing, or just plain dull, the funniest part is usually the reactions of the scammers. Scammers do this stuff to make a living. It’s their way of life. And they’re so deep into it that they feel entitled to your money. So when you don’t give them what they want, they get angry. It’s equal parts hilarious and disgusting to watch a scammer curse out who s/he believes to be a 76-year-old grandmother because she won’t give up the Google play redemption codes in order to “settle her case with the IRS”.

The scam scripts are also pretty funny, too. Who would’ve thought that the IRS accepts Walmart gift cards as a form of payment for crimes linked to social security fraud? Interesting.

The characters have their own unique storylines.

Storytelling is an art form. And if you think about it, how many products have you purchased because you loved the story behind them? These scambaiters tell stories. And not only do they tell stories that resonate (even if they are completely fake), but they also tell those stories at completely inappropriate times. And as you read through the comments on the videos, you’ll see notes from people saying that Grandma Edna reminds them of people they’ve actually spoken to while working in customer service. The level of role-play that goes on where these scambaiters really become the characters they put forward is masterful if you ask me.

Each scambaiter has her/his own niche within the scambaiting community.

Kitboga wastes scammers’ time by intentionally misunderstanding simple directions. Jim Browning collects data on scammers, which he uses to report them to authorities. He also intercepts gift card numbers and victim call lists so he can reach out to these people before they’re taken advantage of. IRLRosie does all sorts of different voices to confuse scammers. Trilogy Media confronts scammers and “mules” on the ground, in person (which is actually kinda dangerous). ScammerRevolts deletes scammers’ computer files and then syskeys their computers, effectively locking them out, at least for a little while. The list goes on and on, but there really is something for everyone in this community.

And best of all, you get the satisfaction of knowing that scammers who have the displeasure of meeting any of these scambaiters are missing out on real opportunities to scam innocent people.

It’s pretty tough to estimate exact figures, but these scambaiters are probably saving people a lot of money, just by wasting time. These scammers are able to get away with several thousands of dollars in one transaction. But the more time scambaiters spend on the phone tying up a scammer, the less time the scammer has to take real money from someone else.

It’s no wonder this content has developed a cult-like following. It’s incredibly addicting, regardless of whether you’re in it for the justice or the laughs.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Humor, Non-Fiction