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Scamming the scammer

So I was minding my business one day, chewing on my burger or something — every now and then I get a craving for a good old fashioned Big Mac; this is not a paid endorsement — when a text comes into my phone:

Kmusta n kayo dyan. pasensya ngaun lang ako naktxt kc bc sa work. e2 na bgo roaming number ko,d2 na kayo txt,ingat palage,txtbk

Now I am tempted to say that only an idiot would bite onto this message, were it not for the fact that (sadly) a lot of people do get suckered in by scams such as these.

In short, it’s a “fishing” text, probably sent by some scammer who typically buys an unlimited text load and then just sends and sends to random numbers, hoping that someone bites.

Normally I’d just ignore the message. But I decided that scumbags like these needed to be taught a lesson, no matter how miniscule. So I dropped my burger and typed a reply:

Salamat sa DIYOS akala ko di kita dinig anak! PRAY ALWAYS!!!

I wanted to sound like it came from a sweet old lady, so I modeled my reply to my mother’s usual texts to me, including the all-caps religious tenors.

Three minutes later, I got a reply:

Kamusta na po kyo dyan?

It was a very generic reply. No names, no nothing. You could imagine the sender being both excited and tentative, happy that someone bought his/her story, and yet cautious so as not to scare off what he/she may imagine to be a gullible target. At this point, the scammer has to be as generic as possible because he/she knows nothing about me at all and yet has to try to pretend to be family.

Hmmm. The burger can wait. I had to craft a quick and dirty “story” so as to sound realistic with my reply and make it appear as if I really thought the scammer was a relative. Which meant I had to make reference to “facts” that the scammer should know about…

Good! As always! Tatlo na alaga ni Stell! Miss you namin!!!

I have no idea what those “alagas” were, but then it’s just a McGuffin that’s there to make it appear that we’re engaged in true family conversation. And Stell? Just the first name that popped into mind. The grammatically flawed “miss you namin” I thought could add a touch of realism. Or so I hoped, heheh.

Came the reply:

Ah. ganun ba.nga pla kya ako npatxt maari bang ipaglod muna ako dyan may sasabhen lang ako imp0rtanti sa iy0.

Ooh, straight to business. I went back to my burger first, munching away as I thought about some convoluted way to lead this idiot on. Thing is, I got carried away by the fries (I love fries) and almost forgot about the ploy that I was hatching.

So nine minutes later, here came another text from what I can only assume is a highly impatient scammer:

Bkit d kna nagreply sa txt ko?

Oops. I forgot my manners, heheh. I had to quickly make a realistic excuse:

Anak nag lunch kami. Sige load kita. How much iha?

Yeah, the sweet mom schtick.

Here comes the answer. I am hoping that, at this point, the scammer is now excited with the prospect that he/she is about to make a killing:

500.po ok lang ba?dhil mhal po text ko dto

Okay, two things. First I’m glad that this isn’t a small time con artist who will only ask for 50 or a hundred. 500 is the maximum share load on Globe, and scammer went for that. Good call.

But on the other hand, “dhil mhal po text ko dto”? Really?  What does that mean? That texts cost more wherever he/she is? Apparently the rationale wasn’t so well thought out.

At any rate, time to make the scammer all excited over nothing:

A no problem anak! Anytime! Try ko ha? First time ko pasa load sa iphone ni Juvi eh. Haha!

And then I left it at that. I finished off lunch and did other stuff. I imagined the scammer excitedly waiting for a 500 peso payday that really wasn’t coming his/her way.

Since this was getting to be fun, I was actually feeling bad that the scammer wasn’t following up. The tables had turned. I was now the scammer, prodding his victim along. At least I wanted to think of it that way, heheh. So I texted again after some time:

Anak gets mo? :)

Silence. Awww. Scammer probably realized that something fishy was going on. Unfortunately, since this was on text, I won’t have the luxury of seeing the scammer’s frustrated reaction. So I prodded him/her again:

Anak gets mo? Send kita 500 eh!

After a minute, I finally got a reply. Just one word. But to me, it summarized the sense of frustration that the scammer must have felt, having anticipated something that he/she wasn’t getting after all:

T*e.

I have to admit, I felt a bit sad that this particular scam was done and over with. I would have loved to string this idiot along for as long as possible. After all, the longer he/she is drawn along, the more time I take away from him/her scamming someone else. And at just one peso per text, it’s actually a pretty cheap form of entertainment.

So my next goal is to eventually master the art of stringing along a scammer for as long as can be humanly possible. That means having to make my replies even more realistic and making the scammer almost taste the payday… without actually getting anything. I’m even thinking of working in a spiel where I don’t know how to send load, but that maybe the scammer can give me a bank account instead so I can just send money. Who knows? Maybe he/she’d get greedy enough to actually give me his/her name!

I encourage you all too to have fun with your own scammers. They need to be given a lesson, no matter how minimal. Or at the least, they deserve to be made fun of at their expense.

Meanwhile, last week’s scam story and other scams…

Art

Art

Art is a long-time editor for a number of technology publications. He is a Palanca-winning writer (he got lucky) whose day job is to try to be as serious as possible while being a management consultant and lecturer. His favorite noodles: chapchae.

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    • testdummy|

      Good one!


    • leocastillo|

      Hey I like this idea! Let me get my devious brain on…


    • laurence|

      nice one kuya art!


    • zoo101|

      i get the same initial message from time to time. i just dont have the patience to follow on like you did. but i get the gist: scamming the scammer. nice.


    • Jp2bayan|

      Nice one sir Art! Now I know what to do


    • umanaru2|

      galing..matry nga rin minsan


    • Nice one haha, I hope some idiot from the “phil info center” texts you that you just won an Avanza and 300k cash hahahahaha


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