The Internet Is People!

It’s now been a month since this gem landed in my inbox:

sincere

And I was tempted to reply.

Dear Sue Peters,

Thank you so much for your message. News of your misfortune couldn’t have come at a happier time for me. Cancer is a terrible thing but you’ve really put a silver lining on the cloud by deciding to leave all your money to me instead of any next of kin or granting it to a specific charity. But since you’d like it to go to a charitable cause I’ll pick one for you. All your money will go to Vespas For Aardvarks. It’s a very special charity that provides greater mobility to members of the genus Orycteropus and strikes fear into the hearts of ants everywhere.

Not that I have anything against ants, but, seriously, the aardvark…it’s a long-nosed pig with a floppy tail and bunny ears. How could you not love that? Now imagine one riding a motorized scooter across the African veldt. And with your money we can figure out a way for the little critters to wear helmets.

As tempting as it is I’m not going to send that reply to the obvious scammer. For one thing there are other people who have already purposely strung along scammers and written very funny things about it.

For another I’d just be confirming that I’m a real person.

And so is the person running the scam.

I may not like what that person’s doing. I even doubt I’d like them if I knew them even if we both liked to play pool, watch movies, have the occasional beer, and laugh at the same jokes just because I’d find something repugnant about a person who gains by exploiting others. Sure I can throw myself down a mental rabbit hole and land on the conclusion that technically even legal companies do that–it’s called advertising–but they’re not going to drain my bank account and for the money I do hand over at least I’ll get a movie ticket or a beer in return.

But there is a person on the other side of this email. That person may have an automated program that seeks out potential rubes and it just happened to land on me, but behind it all is still a person. Behind it all is still someone who, however ethically questionable their means may be, is just trying to make money, like the rest of us.

And here’s one of those other people I mentioned previously.

18 Comments

  1. Spoken Like A True Nut

    Trying to make money I can forgive. The use of Unnecessary Capitalization, on the other hand, is enough to make me hope our friend “Sue” gets run over repeatedly by the nearest aardvark Vespa gang.

    Reply
    1. michelle

      A worthy punishment. I would second that.

      Reply
    2. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yes! The real victim here is grammar.

      Reply
  2. Kristine @MumRevised

    Odecay is inefay ithway eemay.
    Illtay Orrowmay.
    Arsmay

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Ankthay oodnessgay ourfay earsyay of Atinlay inallyfay eenbay usefulay.

      Reply
  3. Jay

    Oh dear, are there really vespaless aardvarks?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s a terrible tragedy on the same level as cat juggling.

      Reply
  4. Gilly Maddison

    Yes I guess exploitation is exploitation. – but I like to think there are at least SOME controls with advertising(ha ha – naive maybe) but with this kind of illegal exploitation, the sky is the limit for the perpetrators. They are often outside the jurisdiction of the countries where potential victims live. It’s often the elderly that get caught out and that makes me really cross.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It is terrible which is why I have mixed feelings about making fun of it. On the one hand it’s a serious problem that has ruined the lives of many people, most of them already quite vulnerable.
      On the other hand stringing along scammers as a lark leaves them less time to exploit others.

      Reply
      1. Gilly Maddison

        That’s SO true!

        Reply
  5. Gina W.

    OK, I admit it. I kind of like to read spam email. I find it endlessly entertaining. However, I’ve never replied to any email. I loved the TED talk video that you posted. I want to be friends with that guy.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I want to be friends with that guy too although I think the only way to get through to him now is through spam. And it is kind of entertaining. I miss the brief period when we’d get some spam that was just a random collection of words, maybe with a URL. I never clicked it but I was always intrigued.

      Reply
  6. mydangblog

    I just got a recorded message phone call from a man with a very heavy accent claiming to be “Constable Robert Williams” from Canada Revenue. He threatened that if I didn’t call a 1-800 number immediately that he would arrest me for tax evasion. Apparently, if you DO call the number, you’re instructed to purchase Itunes gift cards and give the pin codes to the “Government of Canada”, which is the guy on the other end of the phone. It sounds outrageous, but people have actually fallen for it, one woman to the “itune” of $9 000. Scammers are everywhere unfortunately. Also, I would love to see an aardvark on a Vespa. They are too deprived right now.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      They have that scam in Canada too? That’s pretty sad. And I know how people can fall for it. Once my bank called me and asked for my card number. I started to give it to them and my wife stopped me. Don’t ask me what I was thinking. I hung up and called the bank back. It turned out they had a real question, but the rule of thumb is never trust someone who calls you at random and asks for information. If it’s legitimate there’ll be a way of calling them back.
      And the tax evasion scheme here has often included a “police are on their way” threat which sounds terrifying but should also be a giveaway. The IRS never sends the cops to arrest anyone
      And aardvarks just make me laugh no matter what they’re doing, but they really do need Vespas.

      Reply
  7. Ann Koplow

    I’m so glad the Internet is You!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      We’re all in it together and I’m so glad you’re part of it too.

      Reply
  8. Ronnie

    I’ve already written an entire screen play about the guy at the other end just trying to make a buck while slowly realizing what a horrible thing he is doing before finally bringing the whole scam down from the inside. It will come out in October as a story this powerful is clearly Oscar bait and will star Bradley Cooper as the spammer and Brie Larson as the woman who makes him realize he can be more. I already have many monetary backers for this project but I wanted to give you a chance to get in at the ground floor so that you can join me when I take the stage to accept my Oscar for Best Picture.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Bravo. Of course I want to get in on the ground floor and the complete details of my loan are on their way to you c/o the Nigerian Consulate as we speak.

      Reply

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