Scambaiting #1: Joining the Illuminati

Anonymous type hacker with laptop, next to the article title.

Around a month ago, I received an email from someone claiming to be the “Official Illuminati” claiming to offer an opportunity to become a member of the Illuminati. To further sweeten the deal, the person also mentioned within the email that being a member of the Illuminati comes with a monthly salary of $500,000.

The email asked that I contact the “Illuminati Brotherhood " over WhatsApp but as I did not feel like talking to scammers over the phone I just replied to the email that I don’t have WhatsApp. After having to remind the person to even respond my email reply, the person replied by claiming that it was an “open invitation” and confusingly also made claims that I would be made famous by joining the Illuminati which was odd as the Illuminati is meant to be super secretive.

The person also mentioned that the Illuminati was beginning this year’s recruitment programme and that their annual “feast of harvest” was coming up, which makes the Illuminati sound like a bunch of farmers. Not that your average scammer can even keep their stories straight.

The Scam Itself

The 419 scammers have two goals in mind when trying to scam a victim, one is to get money over a wiring service with the secondary goal being to gain personal information that can be used to commit identity thrift. After accepting to become a member of the Illuminati, I was first sent an “ILLUMINATI MEMBERSHIP FORM” by email that required a massive amount of personal information to be sent to the scammer. I filled out the form with false information and the scammer got back to me by saying that the information had been submitted but I would need to buy unspecified “initiation items” for $200.

Wasting the “Illuminati” Scammers Time

The scammer requested that the payment be made by one of two different money wiring services (Western Union or Money Gram). Of cause I was never going to give any money to a scammer but as I wanted to try to find out more about the identity of the scammer so replied by telling them that I would pay the money by Western Union.

The scammer would then send payment instructions that indicated that the scammers’ name was Ovienloba Lucky and that they lived in Nigeria which is unsurprising as that country is a hotbed for this type of scam.

At this stage, I was more than ready to start messing with the scammer so I claimed that there was some random error which meant I was unable to send money through the Western Union. After the scammer relished they would not be getting paid by Western Union they suggested that I try to give them the money in the form of Amazon Gift Vouchers.

The scammer wanted me to buy two Amazon Gift Vouchers from a shop but as I was being pretty lazy that day I only found one good image online of a used gift card so I made up some story about Wal-Mart having a new security policy that limited customers to only buying one gift card per day.

Within that email, I included a link to some random image of a used Amazon gift card that though Google image search. The scammer was not very trusting of the image link I sent them and asked for me to send them a copy of the receipt I would have gotten from Wal-Mart but as I did not want to bother with faking a Wal-Mart receipt I told the scammer that they did not say that a receipt was not required and when he got back to me by asking for a picture of the front of the gift card, I found some picture online of the front of one of these gift cards’ and to it to the scammer.

Revealing the bait

After submitting that photo and convincing the scammer to accept the images being of a real Amazon Gift Card, the scammer asked when was I going to send the other gift card. This was the point where I revealed to the scammer that I was messing with them and had no interest in going along the scam. Even after I revealed that I knew the whole Illuminati offer thing was a 419 scam, the person still tried to get me to go along with it by claiming that life was all about risk and that they wanted to help. The email chain ended when I pointed out the person had failed to show any evidence for the offer to join the Illuminati being real.