A group calling themselves “Artists Against 419” are asking Windows users to take part in their Mugu Marauder “art” project and take down the scam sites hosted by so-called “419 scammers”.
The “Mugu” in “Mugu Marauder” apparently is the term which the 419 scammers themselves use for an intended victim target.
The term “419” refers to the section number of the Nigerian penal code which makes the scam illegal.
You know the type of scam I mean – it always starts out with some version of “Greetings – I am Mariam Abacha, wife of the late General Sani Abacha…“, and promises to make you wildly rich if only you can help her to smuggle out the fortunes squirreled away by her late husband.
Artists Against 419’s “project” works like this. You install the Windows software they have developed for you, which provides you with the coordinates of certain images to display on your website. Each image is actually an image currently being displayed on the websites of the 419 scammers. In other words, you are linking to their image as the source for the image on your website.
This means that the 419 scammer is ‘hosting’ the image you are displaying on your website, which in turn means that every time someone views that image on your website, the 419 scammer is the one providing the bandwidth. The theory goes that if enough users are participating in the “project”, the scammer’s site will not be able to keep up with the bandwidth demand, and the scammer’s site will go down (they claim to already have over 1300 “artists”).
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An interesting theory. However, like the spectacularly stupid media stunt pulled by Lycos with their “Make Love Not Spam” screensaver program – which created a Seti-like network of Windows machines which were essentially DOSing the machines of spammers – Mugu Marauder is a Really Bad Idea.
Their FAQ starts off with:
Question: “Aren’t you fighting abuse with abuse?”
Answer: “It’s art! Sometimes art hurts, but there are no civil casualties in this battle.”
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Indeed, the Mugu Marauder site says “To display images on this page we use and damage the bandwidth of the following criminal fake bank websites…”
“use and damage”.
For some reason the creators of this Mugu Marauder, the Artists Against 419, don’t think that this constitutes a DOS attack, or any other sort of illegal activity. Apparently, it turns out, these “artists” think that two wrongs do make a right, and also apparently believe that by calling it “art” their activities will be protected.
Someone has to pay for this bandwidth. Are you really stealing from the 419ers themselves (as if that would make it ok), or from innocent third parties who don’t even realize they have a scammer in their midsts?
If you think that this is somehow a legally safe activity, let me put it this way for you: try telling it to the judge.
At the very top of their site, the Mugu Marauders say that it is, and I quote: “100% risk free”
The only thing 100% about it is that it is 100% a Really Bad Idea.
Don’t do it.
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