Wednesday, March 11, 2009

With Spam Like This, Who Needs Emails?

Tomorrow, Bernard Madoff will plead guilty
to running a Ponzi scheme that lasted two decades and raked in nearly $65 million dollars. In his honor, after months of ignoring it, I finally opened the spam folder on my email account, only to find some unforgettable messages.

The first was purportedly from my bank, and informed me that because of numerous failed attempts to sign into my account, the bank (which referred to itself as "we") was enacting additional security measures, so would I please just click this link and enter my username, password, account number, etc. The best thing about this email was that, in addition to the usual grammatical gaffs (missing periods, "their" instead of "they're") the scammers didn't even bother to get the bank's signature colors right.

The next message was from Daisy Rostein, representing Jan's & Company Fine French Antiques, an eBay clearinghouse. In this message, which began "Dear Sir/Ma," I was encouraged to apply for a job as an "Antique Collector /Agent /Cashier / Payment Dispatcher and Payment Coordinator," in which I would work part-time from home mailing payments for purchases made over eBay. And I would make $500 per week. (Corollary scam: when I googled "Daisy Rostein," the first link that came up said "Daisy Rostein is on Facebook." But her profile had no picture, no network, and no friends.)

The third message was the best. From a mister Edward Hassan, an employee of the Labuan branch of Deutsche Bank, this email informed me that some seven million dollars worth of money had been sitting unclaimed since the death of Mr. Sheu Yang-dong, the former Governor of the Taiwan Central Reserve Bank. Mr. Yang-dong and his wife and daughter had been killed in a plane crash on February 16, 1999, and, as ten years had passed without the money being claimed, Edward Hassan was now in a position to name me as the designated next of kin if I decided to enlist his help, give me him my phone number and home address, promise him forty percent of the money, etc. To indicate his good faith, he assured me that he had not, in fact masterminded the death of Yang-dong and his family, and that they had without a doubt died of "natural causes." How a plane crash could be interpreted as a natural cause of death is unclear, but I chalked up this slip to a bad translation from the Malay. Or Arabic or whatever.

Googling "Taiwan Central Reserve Bank" brought up identical emails from Mr. Nicholas Lee (Deutsche Bank London), Mr. Lucas THerbert (Labuan) and Dr. Samailla Nuhu (Ougadougou, Burkina-Faso).

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