New Zealand designed chat-bot takes on email scammers

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NZN

A New Zealand chatbot aimed to waste scammers' time is hitting headlines around the world for its wit and novelty in getting one back on those irritating email offers of millions of dollars.

NetSafe is offering a service Re:scam, which is designed to imitate victims and take up frustrating conversations with the scammer, delaying them moving on to another mark.

People forward the scammer's email to me@rescam.org, which first checks it is a scammer, and the artificially intelligent chatbot takes up the conversation, complete with Kiwi colloquialisms and grammatical mistakes to make it seem plausible.

Examples included: "Dear Illuminati. What a wonderful surprise. I'd love to join your secret club. Do you do a bingo night?" was one reply to an offer of $5 million a week.

One character offers to sending a scammer bank account details one digit at a time.

"Dear Anastasia, getting married sounds like a pretty logical first step," quips another.

Re:scam remembers who forwarded emails and sends them a transcript of the chatbot conversation.

There is no doubt scammers will develop technology to detect if they were being trolled, but Re:scam could also be adapted, says Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker.

Netsafe will have to crunch the numbers in future to see if it was making a dent in scammers' time, he told NZ Newswire.

However, in the first 72 hours more than 20,000 emails were forwarded and between 5000 and 6000 conversations were started.

"It seems to be working," Mr Cocker said.

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