By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
By Brett Koshkin
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Riverfront Times
By Danny Wicentowski
By Pete Kotz
Several scammers actually responded. One of them, assured he'd earn $150 for doing so, wrote: "Yes, it is because in the olden days, the white man used black man to obtain there qualities, I mean by collecting the treasure items in African, especially west African...I mean salve [sic] trade."
Kinsella posted this response on 419hell, then added his own commentary: "White people, from 100 years ago are responsible for your deplorable behavior today!?! Wow...that's fucking pathetic."
Another baiting tradition that Kinsella enjoys is called the "trophy." It is a photo that a baiter requests a scammer take of himself. Typically, it features the scammer engaged in some bizarre activity, such as balancing a dead fish on his head, or holding a sign that reads, "I like enema fudge."
One of Kinsella's trophies is featured on the FAQ page of 419hell. The photo shows about twenty Africans around a banner that that says: "Frequently Asked Questions."
Next to the banner stands "Pastor Isaac" of Nigeria, with his parishioners. Isaac has written several e-mails, now posted on 419hell, with updates on a new building he's constructing at the behest of an American congregation. The project's benefactor asked him to set up the photo.
The benefactor's name? None other than Calvin Huckle of the Holy Orc Church.
Some baiters frown upon Kinsella's antics.
The forum sections of scam-baiting sites often host lengthy debates on what's ethical and what's not. But, notes Jillian Gerard at 419eater, the general consensus is against "burning" scammers.
"In the larger scheme, it doesn't help the cause," she says. "It only serves to educate the scammer. We don't tell the scammers they've been baited — ever."
Kinsella believes both approaches have merit. "At 419eater and ScamWarners, they always want the scammer to be scratching his head," he says. "But I think burning hurts their ego; it brings them down a peg. And the entertainment value is so high."
Kinsella has encouraged victims to become accomplices in his baits, which, says Gerard, ScamWarners would never do. "The scammer has their real information," she says. "If the scammer gets real mad, it's just not safe."
He also posts conversations with victims on his site without their consent. The mere mention of one particular victim — James J. Hill of Beaufort, South Carolina — draws a physical reaction from Kinsella.
"It's like, 'Come on, dude!'" he groans, thrusting both fists to his forehead. "I will bet my whole life savings that you'll not convince him that some of these guys are fake."
Hill is a 75-year-old retired Navy pilot on military disability pension. In the last couple years, he says, scammers have drained much of it. His wife, Joline, says her husband is on medication, which she thinks impairs his judgment.
Hill says he was swindled out of $100,000 a few years ago after being contacted by someone claiming to be the son of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Now, he claims to have partnered with a Danish brigadier general in the United Nations' peacekeeping forces by the name of Gorson. Though the two have never met, Hill claims they have plans to start a private security-training school.
Just months ago, adds Hill, scammers intercepted their e-mail correspondence and swiped $30,000 out of his bank account. "Gorson was mad at me for it, but he's not a scammer. He's a commissioned general and a fine officer."
Kinsella, under the alias of "Frank Jackson," has spent hours trying to convince Hill that "General Gorson" doesn't exist. Some of these conversations are posted on 419hell.
"I'm amazed that someone could be so deeply in denial about something that is so obvious to any other human being," Kinsella says.
But Hill won't budge. "I like Frank, and I appreciate what he's doing," Hill says. "But there's a lot of it he calls scams that aren't scams!"
Since starting up 419hell, Paul Kinsella has received at least four death threats.
The site's testimonials page showcases the furious rants of scammers he's burned — or, as Kinsella terms them, "people whose lives we've touched." He's been called a "fool," a "son of a beast" and a "white dirty stinking pig."
One lad told Kinsella that he appealed to an "African witch doctor" and "Amadioha, the god of revenger" to bring about Calvin Huckle's death. The West African scammer wrote: "I am going to deal with you spiritual," and vowed to speed things along by purchasing a "she African native cow" to sacrifice to the "Okija Shrine."
None of this fazes Kinsella. "The chances that I'd be in danger are minimal," he says. "If something requires a lot of effort on their part, I don't think they'll do it. They're pretty lazy."
As far as the future goes, Kinsella is thinking about creating a private detective agency called "Bully-Busters." Its mission: to shoot real-life footage of schoolyard bullies, in the hope of getting the bully expelled. In the interim, it's full-steam ahead for the master baiter at 419hell.
"There's an unlimited supply of guys to go after," he says. "You'll never run out. You could do this your whole life and never meet the same scammer twice."