I'm trying to ruin a scammer's day (fake check scam). I have his phone number. I am able to call (and record) and text him. He is also willing to mail items to my house. What can I do to find out more about them using social engineering or through service providers? How might I be able to build a case against him, or scare or stop him from continuing scamming people?

I know I can call the FCC to report it, but I feel like that won't do anything. I also understand that I likely wont be able to get very far in following his trail.

  • since your own information security, you probably have some hacker friends or are a hacker yourself, and use social engineering to get his password – noɥʇʎԀʎzɐɹƆ Aug 4 '16 at 18:43

Inform law enforcement.

You can't "build a case" because as a layman you likely have no idea about proper police procedure. Most evidence you collect will likely be inadmissible in court. You might in fact also break laws while you collect evidence (for example, recording phonecalls without the consent of the other party can be illegal in some places).

Attempting to scare them is a really bad idea. Remember that you are dealing with a criminal. That criminal might be violent or have contact to violent criminals. So when you try to intimidate them, they might turn that around and start to intimidate you instead.

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    I can't speak for other countries, but this is the the correct response if you're in the United States. You inform law enforcement, and let them take it from there. Don't take matters into your own hands. – Mark Buffalo Aug 4 '16 at 15:34
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    Best case scenario you encountered a solo operator, and he gets scared. Worst case scenario you piss off a criminal boss and now he wants to silence you. Giving it to the police is the safest thing for you to do. – Nelson Aug 4 '16 at 16:36
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    As tempting as it is, and as frustrating as it is that these criminals may not see justice, taking measures in to your own hands is borderline illegal and absolutely dangerous. – h4ckNinja Aug 4 '16 at 16:52
  • Question -- wouldn't they realize who it was who reported them and get pissed off at you that you reported them to law enforcement? – user541686 Aug 5 '16 at 0:51
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    @MarkBuffalo Best way I've heard this phrased: "Don't do what Batman would do" – user41341 Aug 5 '16 at 2:10

I call and text my scammer every month or so. I let them know that I finally got the funds available and that I am ready to send them the money. I ask the same, basic questions, over and over. I send confirmation numbers that are missing key digits. I make up intricate stories about why it didn't go through.

I try to take up as much time as I can from them because:

  1. Every moment they spend with me they are not scamming someone else.
  2. I find it amusing.
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    This won't work without pt. 2 (finding it amusing). One must like trolling people to do that, otherwise it's way too tedious and I highly doubt it does really noticeably help anyone. – Display Name Aug 4 '16 at 17:34
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    You could even go one step further and automate this process. – Jacobr365 Aug 4 '16 at 18:36
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    You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. – Zack Aug 4 '16 at 19:40
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    @Jacobr365 That would be the biggest win ever – tomsmeding Aug 4 '16 at 19:58
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    If you want to waste scammers' time, go to youtube.com/watch?v=RRhRImp6kKQ and then enjoy all of the recordings of "Lenny" doing just that. Then install Lenny or use a service that redirects the scammers' calls to it. – Monty Harder Aug 4 '16 at 22:06

You could post it on a scambaiter website or otherwise provide it to the scambaiting community. They have a lot of experience with how to deal with them, and as a community they might have better resources, more information, and a better anonymity (in case the scammers might decide to retaliate) than a lone individual like yourself.

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  • Although I like this answer, there's a minor problem with such a site: it's a great place to "out" someone as a scammer who is actually not, just because the reporter wants to make life difficult for someone. For example, Donald Trump would like to punch me in the face, but he doesn't know where I am, so … – WGroleau Aug 5 '16 at 0:13
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    I would think that the scambaiters would ask for some kind of evidence that the scammer is in fact one before harassing the scammer with calls. It isn't a problem unless the website being posted to harasses its victims without verifying their identity. – March Ho Aug 5 '16 at 1:30

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