How to Legally Get Revenge on a Scammer
Few things are more frustrating than receiving scam emails. Whether it be the promise of untold riches in exchange for an investment, trying to gain access to your credit card or attempting to scam you out of an item you’re selling on Craigslist, scam emails are an annoying part of modern digital life.
One option that has been gaining in popularity is getting revenge on the scammers, turning the tables on them and looking for ways to annoy them and waste their time. Kitboga is a popular Twitch and YouTube streamer who has gained a following streaming his efforts to get revenge on scammers.
Pro-tip: Before we go on, let’s agree that prevention is better than, well, revenge. An all-round cybersecurity app like Clario can help protect you from scams by providing a critical layer of security against fraudulent websites, email viruses and leaked data that scammers can use. To test Clario out, download a free 7-day trial now (no credit card needed.)
Now, here are several factors you should consider when contemplating revenge on scammers.
Should You Get Revenge on Scammers?
The biggest question to ask is whether you should even try to get revenge on scammers. Sure, getting revenge is a tempting option, and one that would likely bring a large amount of satisfaction. Unfortunately, the reality doesn’t always match up with the expectation.
One of the biggest risks you face when trying to get revenge is opening yourself up to even more scam attempts and harassment. Quite often, when a scammer sends an email, they don’t know for sure if the recipient email address is live. Many times, scammers will simply send out a mass email to a whole list of addresses, not knowing which ones are active. Replying to such an email will let the scammer know your email address is active, and could lead to even more scam attempts.
The problem can be even worse if the scammer manages to get your phone number. Suddenly, what started as an annoying email can turn into a barrage of harassing phone calls.
Another concern is the legality of trying to turn the tables on a scammer. Some jurisdictions are beginning to enact strict privacy laws. Trying to get revenge on a scammer, especially if that revenge involves flooding the spammer’s inbox with retaliatory emails, could land you on the wrong side of the law.
How to Get Revenge
If you are determined to get revenge on a scammer, there are a few legal revenge tactics.
1. Ignore: The most obvious way is simply to ignore the scammer. A scammer’s goal is to make money by duping people into falling for their scam. The best way to get revenge is by not falling for it, ensuring that any time spent on you is time wasted.
2. Scambaiting: You can try to engage the scammer, emailing them back and pretending to play along with whatever scam they’ve concocted. Because you’re simply replying to an email the scammer sent you, there is little to no chance of getting into any legal trouble. Many individuals, such as Kitboga above, specialize in scambaiting and have made a profession of it.
If you choose to go down this route, you may want to use a dummy email account when pretending to play along. This would make it much harder for a scammer to link you to your actual email, minimizing the chance of any fallout. If the scammer does retaliate by flooding your dummy email account, simply close it and start over with a new one.
3. Join Forces With Others: There are a number of online communities, such as 419eater.com, that specialize in helping scambaiters collaborate, warn each other and team up to scambait the scammers.
4. Use an Anti-Spam Chatbot: For the ultimate in revenge, you can enlist a service that specializes in wasting scammers’ time. For example Re:scam is an email chatbot designed to do just that. Re:scam took emails that have been sent to it and replies to the scammers, attempting to keep them engaged as long as possible. Because Re:scam is run by a cybersecurity firm, it’s reasonably safe, from a legal perspective. The chatbot is currently offline, being reworked and receiving upgrades, but should be available again soon.
Spamnesty is another chatbot that will try to engage spammers, wasting their time. Spamnesty strips out your email address to protect your identity and privacy, then sends you a link to the conversation so you can watch it unfold and relish in some scammer payback.
5. Report Scams to the Authorities: Report any attempted scams or fraud to the FTC. While the FTC will not be able to do anything in many cases, there may be some instances where they are in a position to take action. Reporting scams gives them the information they need to build a case.
Keeping Scammers at Bay
Like many professions, scammers try to spend their time where it will count the most. As a result, the best thing you can do is to proactively protect yourself from scams and avoid being a tempting target.
Carefully avoid clicking on links in emails, or opening attachments, especially from addresses or companies you don’t normally correspond with. You might also consider using a couple of different email addresses, each one with a dedicated purpose. For example, you may use one email address for mailing lists, one for shopping accounts and receipts and another for personal communication. This can make it easy to keep things compartmentalized and identify scam emails when they’re sent to the wrong account.
Similarly, never provide your username and password to someone, whether it be via email or over the phone. No reputable company should ever ask for your username or password.
When browsing online, be sure the website address is spelled correctly, and not a closely spelled spoof of the website you’re trying to visit.
A few practical measures can go a long way toward protecting you from scams and preventing you from needing to get back at scammers in the first place.
Pro tip: For added protection, install a security app like Clario. Clario can help you protect your identity, browse the web securely, protect you from malicious websites and software that may try to steal your information. If something does go wrong, 24/7 human support can help you get back on track.