Fighting the E-Mail Scammers:
I found this pretty amusing (hat tip The Influence Peddler):
We all know those Nigerian E-mail scams — we need your help securing $100 million, all we need is an American bank account and a small fee. Most of us, being normal people, delete them. Robert Hickam, aka Barrister Jubril, is not a normal person. He replies. This is his story.
My favorite "project" so far is
The one that started it all. But Body by Jake is also pretty funny too.

Please note that responding to scammers can be a very risky business. I would not do it myself. Another scammer baiting website offers the following warning (along with useful tips and tricks)..

Please remember that these people are CRIMINALS and should be treated as such. Under no circumstances must you enter into any communications with these people unless you feel you are adequately prepared to deal with them.

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES give them ANY real private information about yourself. These guys may appear dumb and clueless, but I suspect it wouldn't be so funny if you were to come face-to-face with one of them, although I'll be the first to admit the chances of this happening are astronomical - unless of course you are dumb enough to fly over to meet them in person, in which case you need to be sectioned ASAP!

The tips below are for INFORMATION ONLY. cannot be held responsible for what you decide to do with the information. If you are unsure of what you are doing please LEAVE WELL ALONE!
But these websites allow you to enjoy the sport of scammer baiting while sitting safely on the sidelines.

(civil comments only please)

Update: By coincidence, the following new thematic twist on scamming managed to evade the GMail antispam filter:

With due respect, pardon me for this letter. This is a genuine matter of utmost importance and immense mutual benefit which must be kept highly confidential. It is with genuine interest and trust that I have contacted you.

I am Captain Smith Scott of the US Marine Force on Monitoring and Peace keeping mission in Baghdad, Iraq. On the 20th day of November 2006, we were alerted on the sudden presence of some Terrorists camping in a suburb not too far from Karbala here in Iraq. After immediate intervention, we captured three (3) of the Terrorists, twenty-six (26) were killed leaving seven (7) injured.

In the process of torture they confessed being rebels for late Ayman al-Zawahiri and took us to a cave in Karbala which served as their camp. Here we recovered several guns, bombs and other Ammunitions including some boxes among which two contains suspected nuclear weapons, one filled with hard drugs (cocaine) and the other four to my amazement contain some US Dollars amounting to $10.2M. After I and two of my junior intelligent officers counted them, I however instructed them to keep this in high secrecy.

I am in keen need of a "Reliable" and "Trustworthy" person who would receive, secure and protect these boxes containing the US Dollars for me until my assignment elapses here in Iraq. I assure and promise you will not regret this deal. However feel free to negotiate what you wish to have as your percentage in this business. Assure me of you keeping this in utmost secrecy to protect my job with the US Monitoring and Peace Keeping mission. I will be waiting to hear from you as soon as possible to proceed.

If you are interested to work with me in good faith and honesty, get back to me. Endeavor to let me know your decision rather than keep me waiting.

Thanks in anticipation of a favorable response.

Sincere regards,
Captain Smith Scott.

Dylanfa (mail) (www):
One guy managed to get one on the phone and record the conversation.
12.13.2006 12:11pm
Russ (mail):
This is actually quite fun. I've done this from time to time, and even got one to send me a photo of himself holding a sign with the code name I gave him(Big Poppa Pump). When you can actually get a scammer on the hook, just sit back and enjoy the show.
12.13.2006 12:24pm
Goobermunch (mail):
My personal favorite--best if you're familiar with the works of early '20s pulp horror writer H.P. Lovecraft--
12.13.2006 12:24pm
Federal Dog:
A $26,000 consultation fee? I am soooo in the wrong practice area.
12.13.2006 12:38pm
elChato (mail): fantastic, laugh-out-loud scam-the-scammers site.
12.13.2006 1:05pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
This is actually a new sub-genre of letter-based creative writing. You invent a character, and the text then consists of an exchange of letters between your character and a semi-unwilling stranger who is also creating a character. The plot should actually be developed by both participants simultaneously.
12.13.2006 1:12pm
jvarisco (www):
The best has to be the P-P-P-Powerbook - he got the scammer to fork over $500 in taxes for a 3-ring binder.

Link here
12.13.2006 2:03pm
Falafalafocus (mail):
I had never even considered counterscamming before. I am thoroughly impressed with the inventiveness of web users.
12.13.2006 2:14pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Some of the funniest writing I have ever read on-line were the exchanges here.
12.13.2006 3:16pm
JosephSlater (mail):

Since I'm probably one of the few law profs/folks that read this blog that get your reference, I'll just say ... holller, if you hear me.
12.13.2006 4:31pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
Chelsea Clinton is dating the son of a jailed congressman who got caught up in the world of nigerian scams. theblotter
12.13.2006 5:30pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
Scamorama also maintains a lovely archive of these.
12.13.2006 6:07pm
Gary McGath (www):
That Lovecraft counterscam is wonderful!
12.13.2006 6:14pm
crane (mail):
A friend of mine, inspired by the Lovecraft counterscam, tried to do the same thing using Lord of the Rings, but it didn't last long. When you're asking someone if their computer skills can aid your master in his search for "Shire" and "Baggins", it's only a matter of time before they actually Google the terms and realize what's going on.
12.13.2006 7:20pm
Falafalafocus (mail):
Joseph Slater,

I object. It is in fact holla if ya hear me. If you must quote the genetic freak, you must quote him correctly. Otherwise, people might not care to smell what you are cooking.
12.13.2006 10:20pm
bellisaurius (mail):
Thank you for the Cthulu one, goober. That's the best laugh I've had all week.
12.13.2006 10:58pm
U.Va. 2L (mail):
I wasn't expecting pro wrestling slogans to make an appearance on a Volokh thread, but there's a time for everything.
12.14.2006 1:07am
Steve Skubinna (mail):
That one from the Marine's gotta be on the up and up. I'm sure it would rope in Jon Carry - it sounds tailor made to fit his conception of US military personnel.
12.14.2006 2:31am
Stuart M. (mail):
Last month I actually got a 419 that purported to be from Suha Arafat. She wanted my help in keeping some of her assets safe from the corrupt people now running the Palestinian Authority, who she assured me were trying to reduce her and her daughter to utter poverty.

I wonder why she wrote to - of all people - me. She should have contacted Mr. and Mrs. Corrie, who I'm sure would be much more likely to help the poor widow of such a renowned "freedom fighter."
12.14.2006 8:50am
glangston (mail):
Some scammers in England were induced to pay the import fees on some free Anus Laptop Computers. All they got in the boxes were piles of electronic junk, but highly valued junk. Local anti-scammers in England actually got some pictures of the perps. These scammers threatened to "dead" the sender through their network in CA where they claimed to have pull with Arnold. Anus Computers even has a joke web-site now
12.14.2006 10:19am
markm (mail):

I am in keen need of a "Reliable" and "Trustworthy" person who would receive, secure and protect these boxes containing the US Dollars for me until my assignment elapses here in Iraq.

It's a good thing the scammer only wants a "Reliable" and "Trustworthy" person, because someone who is actually reliable and trustworthy wouldn't fall for this.
12.15.2006 7:32am