Scammers are horrible people who take advantage of poor, trusting people. And that's why it's great to see people turn the tables on the two-bit thieves and con artists.
A Reddit thread recently asked people to reveal how they got back at a scammer, and the answers just as ridiculous as the scams themselves. So, what led to these people turning the tables on their scammers? All posts have been edited for clarity.
"My friend turned the tables on a 'Barrister Jeff Edwards,' and it was hilarious. He emailed her, calling her Alison (which is not her name) and saying her uncle died and left her money, and she responded:
'My Dear Jeff,
Thank you for your email. I never had the chance to meet my uncle, but I heard he was a kind, philanthropic man. I wish to carry on his legacy of giving and bequeath to you, my dearest of Jeff's, any and all of whatever he may have left behind as he ventures into the abyss - I sincerely hope to follow him soon.
Kindest of regards to you,
He was so mad when she told him to keep it all and replied some long-winded message followed by 'I decided to offer you 40% of the total, to avoid all forms of jealousy that might arise in the transaction.'
She even got him to send a photocopy of his (most definitely fake) passport."
"I wanted to get rid of an old, nasty junk refrigerator. It had been sitting all week in front of the house I was renting in a crummy crime-plagued area in Fullerton, California.
I had a sign on it reading 'Free scrap,' but nobody was interested. I changed the sign to 'Works good only $50, inquire in-house,' and as expected, it didn't last one nocturnal orbit, some sucker removed it for me without even disturbing my sleep!
Punishing someone with their own greed is like mental martial arts, turning the opponent's energy back against them, and sometimes it can help rid those pesky 'valuables' from the yard."
"I trolled a 'Nigerian Prince' for about two months. I kept sending him emails telling him that I wanted to give him money and that I was very sorry for how he was getting duped. He would send me account numbers for Western Union, and I would send him back messages saying 'I just sent $50, God Bless you!'
When he emailed me that he never got the money, I would reply with, 'Check again! I sent it to the account.' I would have the digits off by one or two from the correct account. This went on back and forth for about a month before he realized I wasn't going to send him anything and was just messing with him."
"My social life started to decline when I got busy, so I decided to try out Tinder. I learned quickly that this app wasn't built to make friends, it was built to meet people based on physical attraction.
That's when I came across this girl. She had an unbelievable body and a bio that said DON'T SWIPE IF YOU THINK I'M A CATFISH in all caps.
Here was my thought process, 'She's 22, lives in Georgia, loves pizza, AND...wait...what?...that sounds kind of suspicious.' No one bluntly says they aren't a Catfish unless they are a Catfish. But I wanted to see for myself, so I hit her with a creative opening line for the first message:
Me: 'Pizza! I assumed that'd get you to open the message.'
Catfish: 'Hun, I'd open anything from you.'
We started to talk and she said in exchange for me ordering her a pizza, she would take me on a date! Time to reel in this Catfish! I told her that I'd order her a pizza under one condition. All she had to do was FaceTime me! And then there were messages on top of messages of excuses. She eventually said, 'Okay, I'll send you a video. Hold on.'
And so I waited and waited.
But while I was waiting, I decided to Google image search her Tinder photos, and lo and behold, I found the REAL girl's Instagram page.
Then I got a video message from the Catfish, and it was the fakest video ever! It was was a screen recording of a video from the real girls Instagram page. But, I fed into it and acted like she'd fooled me.
I got all her information for the pizza. Went on Dominos.com, and ordered a pizza to be sent to her house (where she had to pay at the door, of course). I put hot sauce and anchovies on it."
"Some years ago, I was selling my old PS2 on eBay along with a bunch of games. It didn't sell the first time around. As I was about to re-list, I got an email. It was apparently an African pastor who said he wanted it for his orphanage. Of course, he couldn't use PayPal because reasons, but he was willing to use an escrow service (that he chose, obviously), and would even give me $20 over the asking price for my trouble.
I smelled a rat right away, obviously, but I figured I would have some fun. I told him I would be happy to help out the poor African orphans. In the meantime, I re-listed and sold the PS2.
He sent me another email in which he praised my charitable spirit, and said to wait for further instructions. A couple of days later, I got an email from the Royal Bank of Canada with an escrow certificate attached. Apparently, the Royal Bank of Canada had fallen on hard times and was now operating out of Nigeria using one of their local ISPs. I traced the IP address back to an internet cafe in Lagos.
Just a few hours later, another email from my friend showed up. It was a pre-printed UPS label. He said to go ahead and send the PS2, and he would release the escrow as soon as it arrived. I said sure.
I got an old cardboard box out of the garage and filled it up with gravel and the remains of a crushed cinder block. It probably weighed about 35 pounds. Slapped the label on the box and had UPS come and pick it up.
My pastor friend emailed me about a few days later. He seemed very upset, for some reason. Apparently, UPS had charged him about $40 for a box of gravel sent via two-day shipping. I replied with all the IP addresses I had gathered, along with the name of the ISP and the internet cafe. I also informed him that I had sent the details of the UPS shipping account to the FBI (a lie, of course).
I thought that would be the end of it. But, lo and behold, yet another email from my Nigerian pen-pal. He was very contrite and stated that he had seen the light and was now planning to go straight, and to please not contact the authorities. I just responded with 'too late.'
That was the last I ever heard from him."
"I was at my parents' house last night when my mom answered a call on their landline. I perked up when I heard her say with a worried look on her face, 'My computer's infected?' I knew immediately this was a scam call, so I told her I'd handle it and took the phone. It was a guy from India in a call center saying he was with Microsoft and I needed to follow his step-by-step instructions to clean up all the viruses on our computer (i.e. give him remote control, steal whatever info they could get, install malware, turn it into a zombie, or whatever else they do with this scam).
I hate scammers with a passion, but I was especially ticked off because my mom was getting up there in age and wasn't as sharp as she used to be and would've fallen for this had I not been there. In fact, she did fall for this exact same scam about a year ago. I had to wipe the computer and told her very plainly that no one will ever, ever call from Microsoft, or for any other internet related issue. Unfortunately her memory isn't so hot these days.
In a very thick Indian accent, this guy told me how bad the computer was with all its viruses and infections. 'Oh no! Really, I have viruses? How do I fix it?' I asked. He assured me he would walk me through the clean up process and I expressed my relief and gratitude. Sweet - I didn't have anything to do at the moment.
'Ok, sir. I need you to hold down the Windows key and the R key at the same time.'
'Ok, I did that.'
'Now what do you see?'
'My computer is off now.'
'Sir, no, why is your computer off? You should see a menu. Please power the computer back on.'
I actually had turned it off so I would be able to blare the Windows log-on sound to make it convincing. Now, this is like an '04 PC my mom had so the startup time was NOT exactly fast. So after a good while, I told him I'm back up and ready.
'Ok, sir. Now look at the keyboard and find the WINDOWS KEY and the 'R' KEY. Please hold these down at the same time. Now please tell me, sir, what do you see?'
'Hmm. My computer turned off again. I held down the main Windows button and the 'R' key just like you told me and it turned off again. I'm sorry, I just don't know what I'm doing wrong.'
He was getting a little frustrated now. But the beauty was, I was thinking, this guy probably had to call hundreds of people before he got a sucker on the line as willing and eager as I was to remedy this particular computer problem. So I did this cycle a full four times, each time giving him more little hints that I thought the 'Windows Key' was actually the power button. By the fourth time, I thought for sure he would get it because I was calling it something like, 'The main Windows power button on my Dell,' but sadly he never did figure it out. He gave up on that and moved on to try something else.
'Ok, sir, forget that, we will try something else.' He went on to explain that we were going to do a boot-up sequence where I had to press the F8 key while the computer was booting back up. Obviously, this could not have worked out better. The chance to continually miss hitting the F8 key in time has me absolutely giddy inside. I assured him I was ready to hit the key and restart the machine.
I let it fully boot up and blare the Windows login sound again and said, 'OK! It's back on and I'm hitting the key now.'
He sighed with more frustration. 'You have to do it WHILE THE COMPUTER IS STARTING BACK UP,' he explained. So I apologized again and feigned frustration myself while holding back my unfettered delight.
The next round, he was more careful to make sure I was hitting the key during the boot-up sequence. I was punching away on the space bar key as loud as I could during the boot-up, and after a couple minutes or so here came that beautiful Windows startup sound again and he let out an even louder, more frustrated sigh.
'SIR. Did you hit the F8 key?'
Well, I had gotten that far, so I thought I might as well lay on another level of frustration by insulting his English. 'Yes, I was hitting the 'S' and 'H' keys the whole time! I don't know what went wrong.'
Yep, that did it. 'No, no, no, the F-8 key. The F - 8 key. Sir, look at your keyboard. Do you see the F8 key?'
'OH....Oh...the F-8 key,' I say. 'Yes, I see, I'll try again.' We sat there waiting a few more minutes. I repeated the whole process, this time after the start-up sound I told him I hit the 'F' and '8' keys but again nothing happened. He was fuming at this point but trying as hard as he can to hold it back. Right then, I heard my mom call that dinner was ready. Normally, I would have blown off dinner for something this much fun but we'd grilled out these beautiful ribeyes and I wasn't about to let mine get cold. I told him I was really sorry, I had to go to dinner now and I will have to fix it later. And with that, after this 35 minute phone call, I just hung up.
I sat at the table admiring this beautifully marbled steak and told my folks it was all a scam and I was just wasting his time. The phone rang. My mom jumped up and said, 'I got it.' In the sweetest voice, my mom said, 'I'm really sorry, but we are having family dinner at the moment and I have a rule that everyone has to sit down together,' and after a moment listening to his reply she hung up and sits back down.
'What'd he say?' I asked.
Mom replied, 'He said, "Eff your family dinner."'"
"I worked at Subway about 12 years ago. My coworker and I were closing up for the night, and some guy came to the door with a proposition. He offered to leave his cell phone in exchange for $40. Once he was done, he'd return in less than an hour and give us our money back, plus an extra $20. We were young and stupid and we fell for it. This was the best night we'd ever seen for tips ($24 each!), so we felt like we had nothing to lose. He left us his (stolen) cell phone, took our money and never came back.
We looked up 'Home' in the contacts list of the phone, called it, and were greeted by a very angry owner demanding to know who we were and why we had his phone. We explained the situation and told him to pick it up at our store the next day.
My coworker and I happened to have split shifts the next day, so one of us would be there no matter when the owner showed up. He came early in the morning, and coworker informed me about the pickup when I came in. About an hour after my shift started, a car backed up to the front of the store, out of sight of the window and almost in the street that ran past. This seemed odd since there was no one else parked in front. A scraggly looking gentleman (not the guy from the night before) entered and told the other guy working with me that he left his phone here yesterday, and was told he could retrieve it. I said 'Oh, right! Coworker, go find it in the back, I have to run outside.'
As I was taking the license plate down, I noticed the driver was watching me. It was the phone thief himself! I chuckled as I walked up to his window, and said he could have the phone back but first I get my money back. He pulled $40 out of his wallet, which I took, and then demanded the extra $20 he promised. He refused at first, but then I reminded him that I've got his plate number, and now his buddy's on camera asking for an obviously stolen property. He gently handed me the extra cash by crumbling it in his fist and throwing it at me, so I smiled and told him his buddy will be back out soon.
Back inside the store, my coworker reports that he can't find the phone anywhere. I said, 'The phone was picked up this morning by the real owner and I'm calling the police.' Scraggles ran out, jumped in the car, and they peeled off"
"I was 13 the time when I received a mail from a woman named Jessica Ali.
Everything was the same as a regular scam mail. Same dialogues of a beautiful African girl living in a country undergoing unrest selecting my account for transferring millions of dollars and promising a 20% commission. The difference lied in me. I was bored with the same scam mails that made me a multi-millionaire each time. After all, an excess of money is bad.
So, this time, I replied. I replied that I consented to keep her money in my account. The reply was faster than expected. We had a regular conversation, at the rate of one mail each day.
She sent me a mail asking for personal demographic details like my name, age, and gender. And with each mail, she sent me her photograph in a risque pose. She once asked me for my photograph, which I did send, of course (the photo above).
She sent me a phone number belonging to her assistant, asking me to call and give my account details. I postponed for a few days before I told her that no one picked up when I called. She said her assistant didn't receive any calls. I said that I called and that she was lying. I started adding fire into our 'relationship.'
I think she got too excited about transferring her money, or maybe 'my' photograph did the job. She said that she was ready to be my girlfriend forever. Yeah, I knew this was coming. So, now, whenever she mailed me asking for my account details, all I wrote were romantic things. As to how I was going to meet her, how I was going to speak to her, how I was going to marry her. She was growing restless, and I was kind of getting bored.
This continued for more than two months, which aggregates to almost 60 mails. Yes, I scammed her for 60 days. It ended when I sent her an 'official' threatening email from a government 'official.'
The next day, I received a single word email saying, 'OK.'"
"I got a call from a Jamaican number claiming to be Publisher's Clearing House with my prize of $3.5 million and a 2015 Mercedes Benz. I played along for a little bit to see how the scam worked. Within the first five minutes, I asked the rep to confirm something for me. The rep immediately groaned loudly in frustration, muted me for a moment, and then hung up. Disappointed that I couldn't keep the conversation going, I went back to what I was doing before.
But then I got a call back from the original rep's supervisor. The supervisor asked what had happened during the first call, and I described in vivid detail all that had happened. I took five minutes to explain a five-minute phone call. We talked about how to claim the prize, and he gave me several numbers that I would need later. I wrote them all down, then repeated them incorrectly. The supervisor confirmed that I had the numbers correct.
I told the supervisor that he wasn't very good at running a scam. 'If you are going to give information, at least make it consistent. Otherwise your credibility is garbage.' He became irate and started yelling at me about how I was so stupid, and how he couldn't believe I was wasting his valuable time when all he was trying to do was give me money.
Ok, game on. I kept him on the phone for 45 minutes getting him to explain what a birth certificate looks like, how to apply for a federal ID, how to take a bus to a Walmart in a random town I don't live in, how to fill out the transfer documentation, acceptable forms of payment, etc. etc. I would often have him explain things over and over until he was yelling at me, then I would change the subject and get the conversation back 'on course.' After 45 minutes, he told me he needed to do some paperwork and call me back in 30 minutes.
To my complete surprise, he called me 30 minutes later. He detailed the process for sending a payment and the information to give. I kept repeating all the things I needed to do, getting at least one thing wrong each time. He would correct me, explain the process again, and then ask me to tell him what I was going to do. We did this for 20 minutes.
At this time, I started getting bored with the conversation about the transfer, and tried to change the subject to various other topics. I started asking about where he was calling from, what religion he was, etc. He told me that he was not a Christian, but he believed in God and attended a Baptist Church with his mom. I started making ridiculous claims about how Baptists weren't Christians, but that I was glad he was one. He got really ticked off and started yelling at me. I calmed him down again by talking about the steps to the transfer.
Finally, I told him, 'I don't really know how anyone who believes in God would believe that what you are doing is acceptable. You are defrauding people. You are literally stealing money from vulnerable people. I don't know how you can possibly justify that.'
He began screaming 'Get bent!' over and over at the top of his lungs for about 30 seconds, and then hung up the phone. That was the most fun I'd had all week."
"About six years ago, I joined JDate and towards the end of my subscription, I was contacted by this attractive woman. She sounded very interesting - she was in Egypt working on a feature film as a makeup artist and was looking to meet people when she got back to the States. Her JDate profile didn't really provide much info, but it kind of aligned with her story. About a few days into our 'correspondence courtship,' she reached out to me with a 'proposal.'
She offered to have me 'meet her,' but since she was on location in Cairo, she couldn't meet me in San Francisco (her hometown). But given our limited interactions thus far, she felt a 'true connection' that she never had with anyone before. She first sent me pictures of where she was supposedly staying including pictures of her hotel room thinking that it would excite me. The hotel room pictures looked very odd so I did a quick lookup online to find the hotel's website and see if they matched. Big surprise - they did not even come close. I asked her to explain the discrepancy and she said she was in the VIP area and they don't show those hotel rooms to the 'general public' because they were so 'special.'
A couple of days passed. Late that night (or afternoon Cairo time), she wrote me again saying how much she missed me with some pictures of herself wearing everything from fancy evening gowns to practically nothing at all, asking me to 'keep it between us.' The reason sounded paranoid, yet plausible - she had a jealous ex-boyfriend that would make her life miserable if he discovered she shared these pictures; after all, he took them and didn't like other people looking at 'his woman' - even though they 'were separated.' Doing a quick TinyEye search exposed this lie because I seriously doubt she was who she claimed she was, especially since she misspelled her own name. When I asked her about it, she said that she wasn't originally from San Francisco, but from Israel so she tried to transliterate the name for my benefit. Uh yeah, ok. Strike two. It was at that point that I decided to contact JDate support about the scam. They said that they couldn't do anything, but if I wanted, I could contact the authorities, so I did.
I spoke with someone in the FTC who told me that scams like these were on the rise and they appreciated my tip. At that point, I suggested that I offered myself as bait to catch this liar - they eventually agreed to let me help them.
About a week or so passed and then she sent me the BIG NEWS. She was finally coming home! However, it came at a serious cost to her. Not only was the film she was working on taking longer to complete, but her mother was also deathly ill and she needed to come home to take care of her. She desperately wanted to quit, but the producer and the studio threatened her saying if she left that she would be blacklisted from the industry and she would never work ever again. However, as a good Jewish daughter, she felt honor-bound to come home to care for her mother. Since she was not doing very well financially prior to this gig, all of the money she had either went to her sick mom or to pay her expenses. Since the film was already way over budget, they hadn't paid her in months and she was desperate to leave, but since she 'trusted me so much' she felt comfortable asking for a loan that she would gladly pay back with interest. The tickets would only cost $5,000 and she'd be home before you could say 'King Tut's Tomb.' Needless to say, I declined, but turned the tables on her and offered to pay for her ticket home. Not only would I fly her back on the right flights from Egypt to SFO, but I would also pay for first-class tickets to boot! She first pushed back a little saying that she didn't feel right having me do all that work for her, but quickly changed her mind.
To this point, we never 'talked' before. We corresponded through the JDate messaging system. She asked me for my phone number so we could discuss logistics and so she could finally hear the voice of her 'boyfriend.' I gave her a phone number to an old pre-paid phone that had a couple of hours of time on it that I had on hand. She told me she would call me as soon as she had time.
A couple of days later, I was driving somewhere and the burner phone rang. It said 'unknown' on it - apparently, she took the bait and decided to call me, so we talked. Her voice sounded very 'odd' - not very feminine at all. 'She' gushed lovingly that I would do so much for her and how excited she was that we would finally meet. I went along with the ruse and talked for a while. She apologized for the bad quality 'call' - she was calling from a cell phone from one of her friends who were just as excited to meet me too one day (yeah I bet).
We talked for a while as she tried to learn more about me, after all - up to this point, it was all about her and her needs. I don't recall what I told her, but I do know that I made most of it up on the fly. She was 'very impressed' with my background and really looked forward to seeing me at SFO, jumping into my arms and giving me a big kiss hello.
Long story short, I gave the details that I gave 'her' to the FTC who coordinated efforts with local authorities in Cairo. According to what I was told, a man attempted to get a boarding pass under 'her' name. 'She' was arrested for conning others on JDate and other sites, but agreed for a reduced sentence to expose her entire operations. Apparently, it went pretty far and wide - it wasn't the biggest dating scam in history, but it definitely made for great conversations when talking about con artists and other manipulative individuals."
"In the summer of 2016, the 'IRS-is-going-to-arrest-you-for-non-payment-of-back-taxes-unless-you-pay-up-immediately' scam was afoot and doing well - especially with the uninformed elderly.
I have an elderly friend who was called, the pitch made, and after getting call-back information, she hung up and blocked the number with no further consequences. She then told me about it.
On a whim, I called the number she had been given to call and said I had just gotten a call from an IRS agent and was calling back to prevent going to jail. I am in my mid-70s myself, but I made my voice even raspier than usual, and feigned confusion, repeatedly whimpering that I did not want to go to jail and please, please help me.
I could just imagine the person on the other end of the line - in India or Pakistan, even though I had called a legitimate Seattle, Washington number, licking his chops.
I provided only the last four digits of my Social Security number that seemed to satisfy the 'agent,' but no address, and of course a fictitious name, and when he asked how much the 'original' caller had said I owed, I figured, why not, so went for $6,550 - a nice round (and believable) number.
I was calling them, not them calling me, and they were obviously happy to have another fish on the line even though they could not have been sure now in what lake they were trolling.
I explained I had to cash in a life insurance policy to pay the debt. That pleased the 'agent' to no end, and that effort would take a while - several whiles as I dragged it out.
To make a long story short (covering two months with almost daily conversations with the 'agent' (prolonged because I was 'sick' and occasionally 'in the hospital;), after I finally had 'received the proceeds of my policy,' I was finally told to buy a large number of iTunes gift cards, while being warned not to tell the big box store cashier why I wanted so many.
I looked online for images of the IDs on the back of iTunes cards, found quite a few, and 'after scratching off the ID-covering,' eventually began to recite the IDs to the 'agent' as proof I had actually bought the cards. He had explained that once he was satisfied that I had actually bought the cards he and I would meet to allow me to hand over the cards, and, in turn, receive an official document from the IRS showing that I had fulfilled my errant tax obligation and that I was no longer a fugitive.
A few of the IDs were good, but some were not. At that point, the 'agent' asked what I was trying to do. I then asked him what he was trying to do, and then thanked him for a grand diversion.
Silence. This 'agent' was not happy, telling me I had wasted his time. I told him I was glad to have been of service."
"I buy and sell cars every so often. I use Craigslist because it is free and effective. Unfortunately, you always get scammers in God knows what country that try to 1) get your Paypal info and scam you or 2) mail you a fake check and get you to send the excessive amount back to them. The check bounces and you are out all the money.
So one day I had some time on my hands and decided to play along with this scammer. They always communicate via text or email. There is never a credible number to call back. I tried to waste his time by asking a LOT of questions.
The car was selling for $16,000 and he was going to send $19,000 by 'mistake' and asked I just send the $3,000 back to him. I agreed and kept in daily touch with him on the details. The beauty here is that in his mind, he had a payday coming! Most likely he was in an impoverished county and $1 will go a long way there. If these guys get one scam every three months, they are doing well.
Every day I thanked him and told him how much this would help me and my family and my special needs child. So he sent the check to a fake address I gave him and asked if I received it. I thanked him for sending the check. He asked that I send the money back immediately. At this point, we had been communicating for at least two weeks. I acted like I had the check and told him that I REALLY needed a new TV and if it was okay that I used the extra money for that instead.
He started to get angry and demand that I send it back. I kept him going for a few hours promising him that I will pay him back. Eventually, he lost his cool and got nasty with me. I finally apologized and said that I would send him the money. He gave me the numbers I needed to send it electronically and I confirmed that he was at the store to pick up his money. This went on for another hour as I kept asking him to check and see if the money arrived. So not only was his appetite wet, he was at the store waiting on his payout. I finally told him I knew from the beginning that he was a scammer and that I enjoyed wasting his time and playing with his emotions.
He said: 'You stupid piece of junk'
It was petty, but it felt great - I know it ruined his day as he was expecting a payout for at least two weeks."
"I got an email from some guy trying to get me to sign up for an account with his referral code. Just regular old spam, right? Yeah, but this was a day everything was going against me, so I decided to get even with this dude.
What really bothered me is that he sent it to an email used literally in one place. Under the CAN-SPAM act, sending unsolicited marketing emails is illegal unless a few conditions are met. None of them were. Not only that but since the address came from public records, it was considered an aggravated violation, which tripled the potential fine, from $250 per message to $750 per message. Given these circumstances, I decided to do a bit of digging.
I found that he was using his company's servers to send out these emails, so I found the company website and saw the dude. Emailed the company and never heard back, but looked a few weeks later and he wasn't on the website anymore."