Scam emails range from funny to frustrating, with many in broken English causing the internet savvy to chuckle, while others are well-made enough to commit successful phishing attacks.
But some $12 billion is lost annually across the globe thanks to scammers, and even when we spot them they can still be a waste of time, clogging up inboxes and requiring purging.
Now cyber security firm Netsafe wants to fight back with Re:scam, an email chatbot that will reply to the scammer in a fashion that wastes as much of the cyber criminal’s time as possible.
Dodgy emails can simply be forwarded onto firstname.lastname@example.org where a proxy email address will take over and let the Re:scam chatbot go to work.
It does plenty of things a scammer would find irritating such as forgetting to send attachments and asking questions in a polite yet deliberately wind-up fashion.
Chatbots have been used before to wind-up the likes of scammers and telemarketers using pre-written replies or snippets of audio. Re:scam doesn’t appear to be massively advanced, looking like it uses formulaic replies rather than ones that harness high-level artificial intelligence techniques such as deep learning.
That being said a great deal of sophistication is not needed to annoy scammers, who are likely to be rather interested in any initial response they get only to be knocked back the deeper they go into an email chain.
The flip side to this is that one day scammers could start automating their operations with chatbots as well, though given how unconvincing some human-written scams are, bot made scams will probably lack the sophistication to be a big threat in the near-future at least.
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Have you caught out a scammer in an interesting way? If so, let us know on Twitter or Facebook.