In October 2003, the Artists Against 419 (aa419) were born. Starting small, we initially hotlinked images from fake banks to drain their small bandwidth allowance, causing the hosting company to close them once they reached their limit.
But the fake banks evolved, and so did the Artists.
Our first response, was simply to have a party. Lots of us, sitting and chatting, and running our Bandwidth Hogging tools. It worked, but it wasn't very elegant. The feeling was good though, so we called it a "Flashmob" and decided to do this on a regular basis for the banks we just couldn't get closed down.
Our next step was to think a little more artistically. Art is what you make it, so why should the wonderful world of prose be forgotten? We began to write to hosters, asking them to close the fake sites hosted on their webspace. This bore results far faster than Bandwidth Hogging ever did.
But madness must visit every artist at some point, and aa419 began to see zombies. Fake banks we had killed once were rising from the grave, on another hoster. Things were all getting to confusing, so we created a database of the fake banks as we identified them. This started as a little project to make our lives easier, and is now the core of aa419's policy. Identify the fakes, enter them into the database, and let the awesome power of the search engines show them to the world.
If it doesn't challenge the Artist, it's not Art, so we needed to take things further. We began to formalise our complaint letters, learning from negative hoster responses, and from the positive ones too. We now carefully identify every reason why a website is fake in each complaint letter.
On September 14th 2007 the Artists discontinued the use of Mugito and Lad Vampire our Bandwidth Hogging tools.
As a community we have grown more sophisticated and effective in the art of shutting down fake web sites with words alone. Our database is the largest of its kind, and our expertise at identifying, cataloging, and terminating fraud sites is unmatched. We have shut down over 95% of the fakes in our database by letter-writing and establishing good relationships with hosts and domain registrars. With so many reputable hosting companies supporting the work of AA419, we no longer need the pressure tactics that worked in our infancy.
This is not to say that AA419 has lost its teeth. We remain committed to locating, and closing fakes web sites of all descriptions.
And the result of our artistic endeavour is in front of you right now. We are constantly seeking to improve our methods, and to make the Internet just a little better. If you want to help, become an Artist.