Same as it ever was.

When being interviewed, a lot of the time I get asked the same questions. Today we’re going to look at one that tends to get asked when I mention I’ve been doing this thing for almost 15 year, and that’s “How have the scams changed in that time?”

First of all, some scams haven’t changed at all. Take for example the “dying widow” scam, which was the first scam I ever responded to as a baiter back in 2005. The basic idea behind the scam is that the scammer is playing the part of a widow who’s just been told she only has a short time to live and wants her considerable wealth to go to good causes when she dies. That’s where you come in, as the person chosen to distribute said wealth. These scams have remained pretty much unchanged at all, including some of the same scripts still being used to this day.

Some scams have disappeared altogether, or been replaced with different ones. Back in my early baiting days, scammers from the Philippines were almost always females or males transitioning to female. They’d appear on webcam, flash you a smile (or more) and claim that you’re their boyfriend and wouldn’t it be great if you would send them some presents. That went away, to be replaced by sextortion scammers when a law came into effect outlawing “cybersex” and “cam girls”. One door closed, only for another one to open.

Some scams continue, but have evolved over time. Let’s take romance scams as an example. Years ago, the scam would involve the scammer’s character asking a victim for money, usually via money transfer service. It was easy back then to tell people to never send money to people who they’d only ever met online. These days though the romance scam has become much more complicated. Why? Mainly because of the use of fake websites in the scam nowadays. A fake site can make the scammer look much more legitimate, and some will even have a fake courier company site made for them as an example. The scenario now changes from “Can you send me money?” to “I’ve sent you a gift, you can check its progress on the courier company’s website.” and then “This is the courier company. We need you to pay more fees before you can receive your item”. Now the narrative has changed from “send me money” to “you need to send the courier company money”.

These are just a few examples, but it shows that there’s no simple answer to the question “How have scams changed in the past 15 years?”