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Lessons Learned From Scamming a Scammer

I am sharing this email dialog of a recent phishing scam with the hopes of raising your awareness on how sophisticated online scams are becoming and how much work and detail scammers will put into a online scam. The emails I share here are real and un-edited. This scammer spent time researching our company and key employees. He was trying to get us to transfer $23,460 to a "Client" by the end of business.

1st Contact - Subject Line "Urgent Request"


It's important to note that Nick sits right next to me and when this email came in he was on the phone. I didn't think twice about answering his email and at this point I didn't realize it wasn't really him but as you can see in the email above, when I hit reply it went to a strange email address.


At this point Nick was off the phone and I recognized that the reply address was not his. Not to mention we typically don't send large amounts of money to our clients so we decided to have a little fun with this guy and see how far we could push him. First we thought we would try and get him to fill out a W9 Form. Now the email subject switched to "Bank Wire Instructions"


We insisted on the W9 and I also thought I would sell the fact that I though I was talking to the real Nick by asking about his time sheet and expense report:



The next email contained a completed W9 Form. He even did the research to find a manufacturing company that looked like they would be a good customer for us that wasn't to far from our offices. With the completed W9 in hand we decided to see if we could get him to jump through some more hoops so we found a complex 3 page wire transfer request form online and sent that to him:


He filled out the wire transfer form and so we thought we would push him to cover the cost of the wire transfer. We even went as far as to send him a request through Paypal to the real address he was using to communicate with us.


Now we thought we would really see how far we could push this guy and we started googleing "Complex forms" and we found a generic 2 page form that had something to do with a government grant request for release of construction costs. We called it the TPS report. That should ring a bell with you Office Space fans. We also kept hammering him on the paypal payment he needed to make.


To our surprise he did a great job on the TPS report. Especially considering he was on an iPhone in a meeting.





Much to our surprise we received a Paypal transfer to our account for the $80 fee from Subhash Bhatia. We decided we had spent way to much time on this and REFUNDED the money with the note on the bottom.


Blog Update 2024: Navigating the Evolving Landscape of Online Scams

Back in 2015, we shared insights from our experience with scamming a scammer, shedding light on the tricks and tactics used by online fraudsters. Since then, the digital landscape has continued to evolve, bringing with it a new wave of sophisticated scams. As we navigate through 2024, it's crucial to stay informed about the latest scams to protect ourselves and our online presence. Here’s an update on common scams in 2024 and what to look out for:

1. AI-Powered Phishing Attempts
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has transformed various sectors, including the realm of online scams. Phishing attempts have become more sophisticated, with scammers using AI to create highly personalized and convincing messages. These messages often mimic the tone and style of communication from trusted sources, making them harder to distinguish from genuine communications. Always verify the authenticity of messages asking for personal information or financial details, even if they seem to come from known contacts or organizations.

2. Deepfake Technology in Scams
The rise of deepfake technology has enabled scammers to create highly realistic video or audio recordings of individuals. These deepfakes can be used to manipulate victims into believing they are interacting with someone they trust, such as a company executive or a public figure, to commit fraud or extract sensitive information. Be skeptical of unexpected video or audio messages, especially those requesting money transfers or confidential data.

3. Cryptocurrency Scams
As digital currencies gain popularity, cryptocurrency scams have become more prevalent. These scams often promise significant returns on investments in new, obscure digital currencies or through elaborate schemes involving mining or trading cryptocurrencies. Always conduct thorough research and consult with financial experts before investing in cryptocurrency ventures.

4. Social Media Giveaway Scams
Scammers have taken advantage of the popularity of social media giveaways to create fake contests that lure users into providing personal information or making payments under the guise of claiming a prize. These scams can also involve impersonating well-known brands or influencers. Always check the official social media accounts of brands or individuals involved in giveaways to verify the legitimacy of such contests.

5. Remote Work and Job Scams
With the rise of remote work, job-related scams have become more common. Scammers post fake job listings to collect personal information from applicants or ask them to pay for training or equipment as part of the job offer. Be cautious of job offers that require upfront payments or sensitive personal information before an official employment agreement is provided.

Protecting Yourself in 2024

Stay Informed: Regularly update yourself on the latest scam trends and tactics.
Verify Sources: Always double-check the authenticity of messages, emails, or calls, especially those requesting sensitive information.

Use Secure Connections: Ensure your internet connection is secure and avoid conducting financial transactions over public Wi-Fi.
Enable Security Measures: Use multi-factor authentication and keep your software and security systems up to date.


Reflecting on our 2015 encounter with scamming a scammer, it's clear that the need for vigilance in our online interactions has only intensified. The scams of 2024 may be more sophisticated, but our commitment to security and education has also grown. By staying informed, skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers, and vigilant in protecting our personal information, we can stay one step ahead of scammers.

As we continue to adapt to new digital challenges, remember that Foremost Media is your partner in navigating the digital landscape securely and successfully. Together, we can ensure that the online world remains a space for genuine connection and growth, free from the threats posed by scammers.