I received the following email in my inbox this morning:
I am Mr Vincent Cheng Hoi Chuen, GBS, JP Chairman of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Limited. I have a transaction of 22.5 Million USD for you.
All confirmable documents to back up the claims will be made available to you prior to your acceptance and as soon as I receive your return email via my email address (email@example.com) and I will let you know what is required of you.
Mr Vincent Cheng
Dear Mr Vincent Cheng (wink!),
Is this the best you can do? Really? I’m such-and-such-a-dude from Some Big Bank and I’ve got 22.5 million bucks for you. Uhh, where should I send it?
Mr Cheng: I’m disappointed in you. Like most users of the internets, I have certain quality-based expectations of those who bombard me with spam and attempt to defraud me of thousands of dollars.
Yes, I expect spelling errors. Many, many spelling errors. I also expect a shaky grasp of English verb tenses. And I expect – nay, I demand – that the return email address of the purported wealthy industrialist seeking my aid will be something along the lines of firstname.lastname@example.org.
But more than all that, I expect salesmanship. I expect effort. I expect more and better lying.
Here, let me help you out a bit. You need to tell a story, OK? Bring me into your highly fictitious world. So maybe you’re a) the widow of a military dictator, b) the wife of an exiled tycoon, or c) the wiener dog of Leona Helmsley.
Paint me a picture. Make it seem plausible that you have access to tremendous cash reserves but that – like in most good Hollywood romantic comedies, and all the shitty ones – there is a highly dubious but remotely plausible obstacle standing in the way of your fulfillment… standing in the way of you retrieving the money on your own. For instance, the fact that a) your late husband’s military rival is now in command, b) your spouse faces trumped-up tax evasion charges, or c) the safety deposit box is too high for you to reach, even on your hind legs.
Once I’ve committed emotionally to your plight, once I’ve bought into your human/canine tragedy, that’s when you try to hook me. That’s when you get all a) “I’ll give you 30% of the proceeds,” b) I’ll pay you a $2-million consulting fee,” or c) “Woof!”
Now get out there and scam me like you mean it.