Who has never received a scam message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? We do not get too wet by saying that it happened to almost everyone who will read these lines. But which of you had fun answering to catch the scammer in his own trap? Some days, David, spends several hours doing this. It has even become one of the favorite hobbies of the 44-year-old man, head of the account @Meta-Browserfollowed by more than 47,000 people.
For the past decade, he has made fun of “grazers”, those online crooks who mostly operate from internet cafes in West Africa. “It’s a term that comes from Côte d’Ivoire, which designates a sheep that feeds without doing anything. In other words, it’s easy money making,” says David. In most cases, the modus operandi is the same, these scammers create fake profiles on social networks to extract money from their victims. “There is a whole panoply, which ranges from romance scams, to sex photo or video scams, to employment or even escorting,” explains David. The word “brouteur” is also one of the newcomers to the 2023 edition of the Le Petit Robert dictionary.
“The manipulated manipulator”
Every day, David shares on his Twitter account an anthology of his best traps. He does not hesitate to drive the “grazers” crazy by giving them false locations – “Brussels in Savoie” -, false professions – “genicologist, I study antique lamps” -, by making them copy false captchas – identity verification models – or by impersonating bots – automated robots. “I rejoice to think that I am counter-swindling them. It is the manipulated manipulator, ”he rejoices.
If the 44-year-old man created his Twitter account a little over two years ago, he has been playing this “game” for about ten years: “These scams have been around for a very long time. At first, I did that by letter or by fax, that’s to tell you. Then I started frequenting scammer forums, where people like me who troll scammers gave each other advice, shared their best jokes. And then, during the confinement, I had a lot of free time, so I launched this Twitter account, ”he explains.
With each new “grazer”, David tries to be “inventive”. “One day, I play the victim who does not understand anything, the ignorant, the other, I play the more experienced grazer who gives advice. I love the concept of role-playing games, I play a character”, explains Méta-Brouteur. Moreover, as soon as the “grazers” do not play a character, David stops. “This is the moment when it no longer makes me laugh”.
“I am not a vigilante”
But Meta-Brouteur insists, he is not there to do justice. “My first but is fun, I do it for fun. If someone gets tricked, there’s not much I can do. I am not a vigilante. “On the other hand, he admits, if his tweets can help people, it’s a plus:” I’m not doing this for that, but it can allow people to better understand the mechanisms of these scams. There is a preventive and educational side. »
And for good reason, if David selects “the crispest exchanges”, some “grazers” do not make mistakes. “Some people write very well. We must not say that we spot them secure. It’s not about intelligence, we all have moments of weakness, you have to be suspicious. »
Because these scams can affect everyone. Like this journalist that David knows who had 70,000 euros taken from him by a “grazer” he met on a scrabble application. “They often use social networks, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, but also Le Bon Coin. And sometimes on less expected platforms, like this scrabble application, ”he warns. Moreover, he is almost certain, himself “will be had one day or another”. So, if you have a few minutes, don’t hesitate to take a look at his Twitter account, we promise you a few giggles.