There’s a poignant moment in Godzilla 2014 where Ken Watanabe realizes that the only way for humanity to deal with the threat of the monsters is to stand back and “Let them fight.” The folks at New Zealand cybersecurity company Netsafe must have had the same idea, only instead of giant lizards, the monsters they’re dealing with are scam emails. They’ve come up with a hilariously effective anti-scam defense tool called “Re:scam,” a chatbot that wastes scammer’s time so you don’t have to.
Ignoring and deleting a scam email is an easy way to avoid some personal headaches, but it just kicks the can down the road instead of solving the bigger problem. The scammer will then just immediately target someone else. What makes Re:scam so brilliant is that it acts almost like a fly trap for shady online characters.
After you forward the scam email to firstname.lastname@example.org, the AI will then begin conversing with the scammer. As the video demonstrates, the AI is sophisticated enough to give scammers false hope. The chatbot will seem like it’s genuinely interested in Russian brides or Nigerian prince treasures or whatever.
However, like a ace prank caller, throughout the conversation the AI will do tons of little things, frustrating for scammers and funny for us, to prevent the discussion from actually going forward. It’s like Borat endlessly asking about cheese. You can see some excellent examples of Re:scam and its purposeful obtuseness in action in this Scribd thread by The Guardian. There are some real chef’s kisses in there.
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