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Some people engage in scam baiting, which is intentionally wasting time of scammers so that said scammers aren't spending their time actually scamming real victims.

Is this allowed? It involves a lot of deception, and may be considered bittul zman. There will likely also be a Jewish take on how one should treat them even though they are a scammer.

Not sure what else could be related, but it would be interesting to see answers to whether scam baiting is allowed.

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  • There also is likely a difference between a Jewish and non-Jewish scammer
    – Lo ani
    Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 22:22
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    Why would you think preventing a thief from stealing from others would be prohibited? Lo Taamod al Dam Re'echa.
    – MDjava
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 3:38
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    Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/41049
    – Fred
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 7:34
  • @Loani Would we treat the Jewish scammer better or worse? Why? That sounds far fetched. How does one tell if the scammer is Jewish or not?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 13:48
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    It is forbidden to deceive anyone - Jew or Gentile - even if he doesn’t cause a financial loss (Chulin 94a)
    – User123
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 21:07

1 Answer 1

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It's permitted for tzaddikim to out-swindle swindlers.

שרי להו לצדיקייא לסגואי ברמאותא עם רמאי

  • Sefer haMidot - Emet #4
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    Bava Basra 123a and M'gilla 13b: אמרה ליה ומי שרי לצדיקי לסגויי ברמיותא אמר לה אין עם נבר תתבר ועם עקש תתפל ("[Rachel] said to [Ya'akov], 'My father is a swindler, and you will not prevail against him.' [Ya'akov] said to her, 'I am his brother in deceit.' She said to him, 'But is it permitted for a righteous person to engage in deceit?' [Ya'akov] said to her, 'Yes. "With the pure you [shall] behave purely, and against the crooked you [shall] behave with cunning (II Sh'mu'el 22:27)."'")
    – Fred
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 7:49
  • Thanks, and thanks @Fred. Is one allowed to go out of one's way to do this? How much time should one spend on a scam-bait session? Accustoming oneself to deception is fraught with danger to one's personality and soul, so a little more detail would be welcome
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 12:23
  • @RabbiKaii Idk but I'd just focus on the be a tzaddik part. That is, do what is right per your devotions, hitboddedut etc. And that's not hard; Rabbi Nachman said, I can make you into guter Yidden, even complete tzaddikim. Just do what's right = tzaddik? Actually I would advise aim higher and be a Hasid, and say Na Nach Nachma Nachman with simple faith. Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 19:19
  • @RabbiKaii I don't know if you are directing this question to me or not, but my point was not to justify scam-baiting specifically, but merely to source the general principle expressed in the answer that it is permitted to use dishonest means to thwart the scam of a crook who is wrongly using dishonest means against you. Of course, even in the rare circumstances when dishonesty is permitted, it should only be used as a last resort when there is no other recourse.
    – Fred
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 19:34
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    @RabbiKaii I seem to recall something along those lines, as well, but I don't recall a source offhand. Although Sanhedrin 97a is also an interesting source that brings the story about Rav Tavus or Rav Tavyomi who travelled to a place called Kushta (meaning "Truth" in Aramaic) where the residents were scrupulous about honesty. Rav Tavus/Tavyomi was an especially honest person, and he settled in that place. One day, he told a lie for a legitimate reason, and nevertheless he suffered for this and was expelled from Kushta.
    – Fred
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 6:10

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