Spam emails are unfortunately a never-ending source of email annoyance. No matter how we improve our spam filters, 2017’s Nigerian Princes never fail to come out of the woodwork.
Efforts to fight scammers and the ever evolving techniques of scams they try to do come in varied forms, or in the case of New Zealand’s tech company NetSafe – multiple personalities.
NetSafe, an international non-profit dedicated to internet safety, has created a chatbot that could best be described as a sophisticated AI troll.
Re:scam is an email bot that is designed to reply to scam emails and give them a taste of their own drama.
How it works: forward any scam email to firstname.lastname@example.org – from there, the various personalities of the app work together to respond to that scamming email as though it was a would-be victim.
This helps keep scamming relevant by drawing attention to the issue. The emails exchanged can help teach us more about scammers, who regularly adjust their techniques, and it’s hitting scammers where it hurts – their wallet. Lost profits and wasted time mean the scammers have less time to do the scamming spam sucking that they thrive on.
The website details a few of the most common scams: banking, beneficiaries, romance, and #WesternUnion. With examples of how the app responds. The emails are humorously trolling, and I could see the romance one being an almost awkward comedy skit. Plus, Re:scam boasts some amazing success: over 47,000 emails have been sent and the app is getting a lot done – so far the app boasts five months of wasted time for scammers.
The biggest concern I would have had with this chatbot is quickly dispelled: Re:scam uses a proxy email and doesn’t tangle any of your personal information after you forward the email into the conversation. The site also reminds you that this application does not serve as a spam detection tool, but it does teach you some information to help you recognize spam emails.
In addition to sounding like a perfect revenge via scamming the scammer, the Re:scam chatbot is showing some promise as a great tool to help make the internet a slightly safer place. Give it a go and #SpamtheSpamoutoftheSpammers