Are your online viewing choices feeding those who are taking down scammers and their call centres? It doesn’t take too much digging to find that is exactly what is happening.
From busted refund call centres to sophisticated share trading schemes, the background publicity of seeing these networks taken down has bred a multi-million viewer and off-shoot financial eco system.
Known as scam-baiting, it goes deeper than being a source of entertainment for viewers who enjoy vigilante justice. It’s a source of revenue for those, through their own free will, that are cleaning up the mess makers of the internet.
The cat-and-mouse game of out-witting scammers has a growing list of personalities, each creating a network of followers as they broadcast their latest catch, often live.
The prize is the scalp of a scammer. The bigger the take-down, the easier it is to leverage the content to build an audience.
The bigger the audience, the easier it is to monetise.
It starts by watching a YouTube video. The viral effect brings viewers, millions of them. Their channel grows, feeding the display algorithm.
The channel likely has a call-to-action, to follow them live. Track the scent and you’re at a Patreon page or a live stream on Twitch, each with the ability to solicit donations toward the content being generated.
A dollar here a dollar there, a few thousand followers and the earning potential becomes exponential. The thrill of the chase; It’s a very alluring source of income using honed computer skills, pre-existing infrastructure and a list of scammers who’ve likely been targeting someone we know.
The scam bait scripts vary from stalling tactics to waste scammer time (distracting them from scamming others), to hacking the scammer’s computers and deleting system critical files, rendering their computer and network useless.
Examples of takedown’s include a 60 Minutes documentary on a Philippines call centre targeting Australian investors to Indian based refund scam schemes and the under-cover operatives with no deplume names like Kitboga or ScammerRevolts
Through to UK’s ‘Wayne May’ and his chronicles of death threats that serve to harden his purpose. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-41518352
So how are we feeding these lions? From the millions that are happy to view from the sidelines, probably for interest, maybe for entertainment, it’s the awareness that’s bringing the financial donors and advertising marketers’ money to their income stream.
Footnote: While we all know someone that’s been scammed or likely you’ve been targeted yourself, the ethics behind scam baiting are akin to a hammer. It can be used for construction, or destruction. Laying on a bench it’s a benign object. In a carpenter’s hand it’s a tool. In a rioter’s hand it’s an item of menace.