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