General Question

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Is it illegal to scam people trying to scam you or others?

Asked by LKidKyle1985 (6594points) April 14th, 2009

for example you sell fake drugs to someone, or fake credit card numbers etc. can you get in trouble with the law by doing this?

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17 Answers

fundevogel's avatar

It probably depends on how exactly you scam them. However the scammers might not be so quick to prosecute if doing so would implicate them.

Scambaiting is essentially the sport of scamming scammers, and it can be pretty impressive.

siilver's avatar

This is a tough one to address. For example, if you try and sell someone drugs, and they give you a wad of cash, but its so big you don’t count it until you get home. you find out that there are fake bills in there with the real money, but you also shorted them on the drugs in the first place. You can’t really go to the authorities and say that someone gave you the money for the drugs because you would implicate yourself and therefore are doing something illegal.

On the other hand, let’s use online role-playing games for example, if someone tries to sell you “imaginary gold” for hard cash (which by most EULA’s is not within the terms of playing the game) and you pay via check or something that takes awhile to clear the bank, and they give you this “gold” and you turn around and let the check bounce, or stop the payment, you are still financially responsible for the goods because the trade is on “illegal” within the game’s terms only. This would still be a hot check and a legit debt in which the authorities could pursue.

So I guess I am answering this question as no, and yes. All in all the moral of the story is, don’t risk it. If you were to scam someone scamming you, whether illegal or not, the repercussions could end up causing you much strife.

mattbrowne's avatar

In most cases, yes. There’s the rule of law without self-administered justice involving revenge. Let the police handle the scammers.

Pol_is_aware's avatar

Well, if you are going to scam someone, you might as well target those who are reluctant to call the fuzz…

Lupin's avatar

Darn! I was just going to give Mr. Manake Umbaku from Nigeria all my bank information so he could transfer $20M from the Ministry of Defense.

Triiiple's avatar

If you sell fake drugs to someone how can that be illegal?

What are they gonna call the cops and say “shit this guy sold me some fake weed!”

Lupin's avatar

It will get you shot by people who will never call the police. Don’t do it.

DrBill's avatar

If someone scamed you, call the police.

Wrong is wrong, period.

kevbo's avatar

There’s a whole subculture of Americans who enjoy scamming the Nigerian e-mail scammers. There’s even a “This American Life” segment about them on the “Enforcers” episode.


LKidKyle1985's avatar

Ha believe me I am not going to sell fake drugs to someone. I was just curious on the legality of something like that. Though I might scam the nigerian scammers those guys are annoying.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

You absolutely can and will be punished if you get caught. Scams are illegal no matter the intent. There’s no reason to saddle yourself with a criminal record just because you want to get even with a criminal. That what the justice system is for. Even if you don’t get justice immediately fr the police or the courts, these deceitful people eventually end up tripping over their own schemes.

dynamicduo's avatar

Scamming a Nigerian 419 scammer = as close to justice as anyone could enforce. If you’re just taking up the guy’s time, there’s generally no risks. If you get him to carve you a Commodore 64 replica, that could be construed as actively taking advantage of someone and thus could be against some laws in your area.

Selling fake drugs to druggies = a great way to get yourself killed. If you actively misrepresent the oregano as marijuana and sell it to an undercover cop, you’ll be in trouble. They may or may not be able to get charges (possession with the intent to sell, fraud) to stick to you, but they WILL make your one night stay uncomfortable.

Selling fake credit card numbers = really bad idea. There’s very little difference between fake and real numbers, not to mention some real ones become fake when the account holder cancels it, so there’s no way to know whether a number is real or not, which means the assumption is that the number is real and distributing credit card numbers around can get you into trouble.

VS's avatar

Perpetration of a fraud is still perpetration of a fraud no matter who the intended recipient is. Leave the getting even part to the police and the court system.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Like dynamicduo said, selling fake drugs to someone is a good way to get your ass beat or killed. Legality would be the least of your issues.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

lol don’t worry guys I have never been scammed by some body. I am not trying to get even or anything. I was just wondering if I could make some side money by scamming people who scam other people for a living. But as usually I will probably never do it, but it sure is fun to think about.
“Excuse me Mr Abagah, a distant relative of yours has died in the united states and you are the only surviving family member left, you are entitled to millions in American money, may I please have your bank account info so that I can wire you the money Immediatly.”

dynamicduo's avatar

When you bring money into it, you become just like them, except you (likely) live in America where such scamming can easily be prosecuted, versus Nigeria where the whole country is so corrupt that such issues are very low on the list of things to resolve. Definitely not a good idea at all, but you’re right, it’s fun to think about. That’s why the 419 Eaters have so much fun.

The “logic” behind scamming scammers is that by doing so you are taking up the time of the scammer, thus he spends less time working people who may actually fall for the scam. Usually this is done only through email, no actual physical goods exchange hands. Things may get sticky when physical goods start exchanging hands.

Zaku's avatar

Might want to consult a lawyer or consider how dangerous the scammers might be. Someone doing something illegal or fraudulent to you doesn’t, as far as I know, give you any special rights to do anything illegal or fraudulent to them… but, if someone is doing something illegal or fraudulent to you, their own scam may put you in a position to do something legal that foils their scam and gets you something, maybe, and there are some tricky things you can do without being fraudulent or breaking laws… but again, consider what they might do back to you, and what the legal situation is. People who aggressively defraud people may tend to be more likely than most to do other illegal things as well.

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