A New Zealand internet watchdog has launched an artificial intelligence bot to engage foreign scammers in long-winded email conversations in an effort to waste their time and distract them from real victims. Scarlett Cvitanovich reports.
SOUNDBITE (English) RE:SCAM BOT SPEAKING ON WEBSITE SAYING: "Hey, I'm Re:Scam an artificially intelligent chatbot designed to fight scammers by imitating victims" Meet the artificially intelligent email bot helping you troll scammers SOUNDBITE (English) RE:SCAM BOT SPEAKING ON WEBSITE SAYING: "I'm anyone, and no one. As far as scammers will know, I'm you." Netsafe, an online safety non-profit in New Zealand, have built Re:Scam to waste email scammers time. Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker says it begins when people forward a scammer's email to the bot SOUNDBITE (English) MARTIN COCKER, NETSAFE CEO SAYING: "Re:Scam receives your email, it strips off your identifying details and it then engages with the scammer that contacted you and tries to engage that scammer in a conversation." Re:Scam uses humour, grammatical errors and local "New Zealand slang" to make its personas believable, annoying scammers by asking question after question in a polite but frustrating manner. SOUNDBITE (English) RE:SCAM BOT SPEAKING ON WEBSITE SAYING: "Do you wish to be a member of the great illuminati family? RESPONSE: "Dear illuminati, what a wonderful surprise. I'd love to join your secret club. Do you have a bingo night?" Globally, Netsafe says billions of dollars are lost every year to phishing scams. With millions of victims. It hopes the Re:Scam concept will be picked up and developed by other businesses SOUNDBITE (English) MARTIN COCKER, NETSAFE CEO SAYING: "If scammers are never certain about the responses they are getting - whether they are from humans or from machines - then that's going to really disrupt their business models and if we can do that enough then it will force them to go and find some other way to make money." Netsafe says it's gathering information on scammers to improve its education campaign. But is enjoying having some fun in the process. SOUNDBITE (English) RE:SCAM BOT SPEAKING ON WEBSITE SAYING: "I am very interested. I just have a few more questions".