Scambaiting: a new merit badge for Scouts?

As Old Scouts know, life used to be simpler. Badges involved camping, crafts, medicine, art, helping people. While strange new challenges confront us, some things stay the same: earning a badge requires you to show you've learned or accomplished something. Here then are some thoughts on criteria for a new merit badge in "Scambaiting", suitable for girls and boys. It would be a senior level activity (it's probably too much for a Brownie or Junior).

to scam-proof yourself and your friends and family. To develop awareness of possible online threats to your privacy and safety. To have a laugh and waste a scammer's time.


- Read three different scam e-mails or letters and analyze them.
[Extra points if you can read them out loud without laughing.]
What have they got in common?
Where do they come from?
What is an e-mail header?

- Learn what a Western Union money order is, and why you shouldn't send one to a scammer

- Submit a spam complaint to an ISP, with the complete header

- Give a presentation about advance fee fraud to your local PTA, Chamber of Commerce, or religious congregation

- Visit a police officer in the financial crimes unit of your local law enforcement agency. Think about whether this work would suit you as an adult career. Share a few laughs.

- Find West Africa and Europe on a map. Are they far apart? What does it cost to fly from Lagos to Amsterdam? How many flights are there each week? Learn to pronounce "Schiphol".

- Set up a disposable e-mail account at a free webmail provider.
Learn the elements of a good password. Pick a good password.

- Scammers may ask you for a scanned copy of your ID. Learn why you should not send a (real) ID to a scammer. Krusty the Clown's library card is another matter.

- Read the Pointers page on Scamorama

- Adopt a scammer by typing in your disposable e-mail address on an online bulletin board. You will hear from a scammer in due course. Waste as much of his time as possible. Don't tell him you're thirteen. Extra points if you can get him to wait for you at the White House in Washington DC, or the Parliament complex in New Delhi, wearing a clown suit and hockey mask, and holding a sign saying "Welcome Aliens". [Note: You aren't actually going to show up.]

- Learn how a webcam works

- Scammers aren't the only bad people out there. Learn to protect yourself from perves in general - the sort who pick up hitchhikers and the sort who troll for jailbait online. Think seriously about why you should stay out of chat rooms and why the 14-year old boy or girl you meet in a chat room might be a 40-year old man with a very strange photo collection. Program the local version of 911 into your cell phone. Sweet dreams!

- Write a report about what you've learned.

Respectfully submitted by an Old Scout.

Comments on the proposal:

Mr. Floyd Abacha: A terrible idea. The supply of victims will dry up! We'll have to come up with new ideas for scammage!

The Snipe: Super idea! The Scouts won't be chasing me through the woods anymore!

This is a joke, dear Scoutmasters. Scamorama does not endorse scambaiting as a youth activity.