Saturday, July 26, 2014

Adventures on the Internet

Here's an actual email I got recently: 

I really hope you get this quickly. I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. we had to be in Ukraine for Tour.. The program was successful, but our journey has turned sour. we misplaced our wallet and cell phone on our way back to the hotel we lodge in after we went for sight seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables we had. Now our passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment.

 I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed very grateful if i can get a short term loan from you ($2,580). this will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home. I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full as soon as soon as I return. let me know if you can be of any assistance. Please, let me know soonest.

Thanks so much.


Good advice, Admiral. 

For incredibly obvious reasons, I didn't reply. But I like to think that in an alternate universe, my answer would have gone something like this: 

Dear Natalie, 

I'm so sorry to hear about your troubles with your Tour in Ukraine, and that your journey has turned sour after you went for sight seeing. I won't aware that hotels in Ukraine were so accommodating as to not demand payment upfront. What a warm and welcoming people the Ukrainians must be, despite their recent troubles. Recent troubles I'm quite surprised you didn't mention, to be honest. A few months ago, when all that stuff was going on in Egypt, I got heaps of emails from charming Egyptian people telling me about their political upheavals and resultant financial difficulties. That seems to be at thing now. The bombs are falling, quick, get on the internet and ask people for money! 

It was no inconvenience at all to receive your email. I'm glad you feel we're close enough that you can turn to me, but, well, this is a little embarrassing... I don't know anyone called Natalie. I did, when I was in Year Three, have a friend called Natalie. She went to Monto State Primary School. I don't know if you're the same Natalie or not. We never talked much about her ambitions to travel to Ukraine. We talked a lot about kittens and toys, from what I remember. And Battle of the Planets. Remember that one episode where the insecty-roboty things came out of what looked like Kinder Surprises and bodysnatched all the kids on the planet? That was a hell of an episode. 

So, if that's you, Natalie, hi, how's it going? What've you been up to since the eighties? Apart from misplacing your wallet and cell phone. 

You know, I don't like to be one of those "I told you so" people, but come on now. This is why we have travel insurance. And, to be honest, if you're the sort of person who goes to somewhere as unstable as Ukraine without travel insurance, well, I do feel that my lending you $2 580 dollars would be a little like throwing good money after bad. Also, all of my finances are currently tied up in a complicated scheme to assist the widow of a Nigerian general in getting access to his funds. I'm expecting several million dollars any day now, so when that comes through I'm sure I'll be able to review your situation more favourably. 



What really amazes me about these sort of emails, is they must be profitable, or why would anyone bother? But, seriously, who is falling for this amateur hour stuff? 


  1. Truth is, they can send out thousands of such emails at no real cost, and it only takes one gullible person to make it worthwhile.

    We look at these emails and shake our heads, wondering who the heck could be taken in by such things. Well, if they were even half-way plausible they'd get more responses from people who'd eventually smell a rat. Instead, these notes are designed so that anyone with half a brain will ignore them, so the only responses they'll get - where they then have to start investing some actual time and effort to complete the scam - will be from the extremely gullible. If you think about it that way, it's actually finely-targeted marketing.

  2. It does seem like if someone sent a spoof of such a letter, with a PayPal button, they'd get more cash from entertaining people than rehashing the same old plot. Although, on the other hand, look at Hollywood.

    A most excellent reply, by the way. God knows I've wanted to send such things back to Natalie.

    1. Poor Natalie. I hope she paid her hotel bill in the end!



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