scam baiting
pp. Teasing a scam artist — particularly someone running the Nigerian advance fee fraud scheme — by feigning interest in the scam and forcing the scammer to perform silly or time-wasting tasks.
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Scam-baiting has become the main attraction at a number of Web pages devoted to scams. Two Columbus, Ohio-area friends started the Scam Joke Page last year at and write under the pseudonym David Lee Roth, stringing along the scam artists who contact them and insulting them in the process. In one exchange, they suggest two fictional banks — with the acronyms GRIFT and MORON — that they'd like to use to send the scammer money. The scammer dutifully checks and responds that those banks don't have branches in his country, and that Western Union would be preferable.

The British authors of another scam-baiting page, call their hobby "the new Internet blood sport." The pair, who often write under the name Alexander Kerensky, have tricked scam artists into waiting in front of a public webcam in Amsterdam, then posted their images on the Internet. In one exchange, they pretend to be a retired general who is naively cooperating with the scam — until they invent a scheming girlfriend who threatens to expose the scam artist if she doesn't receive a cut of the money.
—Lynn Cowan, “Web Enthusiasts Take Up Scam Baiting,” The Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2003
That anyone should fall for these laughable and badly written letters, probably the commonest scam on the internet, tells you a lot about human greed and gullibility. Astonishingly, it is estimated that British and American individuals lose around pounds 100m a year on these frauds. Worse, some are lured to west Africa and robbed, kidnapped and even murdered.

So congratulations to one website,, which is playing the fraudsters at their own game. They aim to thwart and humiliate the criminal gangs by "scam-baiting" and are currently posting up the daily emails they are exchanging with one "Jonathan Mokoena". The asinine criminal believes he has lured Princess Margaret (accompanied by her Keeper of the Bedpan and her equerry Lord Luny-Binns) to a secret meeting in Accra to help unlock a Dollars 235m fortune.

Apart from his failure to notice that Princess Margaret died in February, Mr Mokoena believes she lives in Tode Hall and spent her last holiday in Clacton.
—Patrick Collinson, “Have you met Lord Luny-Binns yet?,” The Guardian, December 07, 2002
2002 (earliest)
I have just discovered the art of 'scam baiting', that is replying to Nigerian Scam letters and trying to trick the scammers, on such attempt is laden with Mythos references.
—Graham, “Fun with Mythos,” alt.horror.cthulhu, November 09, 2002
It must be by now only the rarest of Internet users who hasn't received a version of the Nigerian advance fee scam, where people are asked to provide fees up front to help unlock a deposed ruler's fortune or to signal good faith as a partner in a business project. In each case, the person is promised millions of dollars in return. It sounds absurd, but thousands of people fall for it every year, and the scammers rake in hundreds of millions of dollars.

So few will feel sorry for those scam artists whose chains are given a few good yanks by the scam baiters at sites such as and Perhaps we should be sending them money to help finance their good works.