I’ve received a few emails from readers who are actually enjoying reading through this “fake email” series. Honestly, I was posting them because I had so little time to do any in-depth pieces lately. But since people seem to like them, and there are numerous search hits every day, I’ll do a few more.
Today we’re looking at a pretty well-crafted example. Usually, their are some really obvious grammatical errors that just practically scream “SCAM!” at you, but this one is low key and almost believable. To a trained eye, however, it never had a chance. For instance, look at the way it begins:
“Beloved”? Seriously, only one person should ever call you that. Unless you’re at a wedding and the preacher is beginning the ceremony.
Let’s read on a bit…
I apologized if the content here is contrary to your ethics, but I had to reach you through this medium. I came across your personal contact via international personal research profile in my Earnest search for a trustworthy and honest person to handle my business.
I am Douglas Twang. 61 years old. I have been diagnosed with kidney Cancer a Disease that has defiled all forms of medical treatment, destroying my heart and kidney. My doctor’s report indicates that I have but only a few months to live. At this stage money is no more my priority except to assist someone in need of help. Why work when there is nothing to live for. I am a wealthy man, but right now some of my properties and investment are being diverted or confiscated by Family members and business associates. And I realized that I have to make trade-offs.
You can see what I mean about the grammar here. It’s almost believably written. There are some mistakes that need to be brought out, though.
In the 1st sentence the word “apologized” is past tense, which could have been a slip of the finger on a qwerty keyboard, meaning anyone could have made that honest error. It’s an error nonetheless, and is probably caused by the writer using the word “had” later on in the sentence. Helping verbs are notoriously hard to learn, even if English is your natural language.
The next error is the capitalization of the word “Earnest”. That whole sentence just sounds wrong when you read it aloud. People just don’t talk that way. The words convey a concept, but not in the normal English progression. The “via international personal contact” phrase is just wrong.
As a mission to fulfill my commitments to affect lives, I have in deposit with a financial Institution huge cash deposit set aside, which I intend to distribute to charity through you. You will receive 30% for your support. I have earlier contacted a South African Woman, but later discovered she lacked the capability to handle such amount for distribution, but if you have the capability I shall be willing to release the funds to you. Despite my adversity and dismay, with your support I can achieve this final purpose by the grace of God. Contact me via my private email: douglas_twang06@(obfuscated)
Once again, not-so-obvious mistakes show this email to be a scam. Leaving out little words like “a” is a dead giveaway. Also, notice the way the capitals appear in the phrase “financial Institution”. The biggest mistake this guy makes is in the next sentence, though. There is absolutely no reason to include that bit about the “South African Woman” if this letter was legit. So why is it included? It’s the setup for a very old sales tactic, which I call the “You can’t have it” clause. I learned it when I was selling Ford trucks in Albuquerque. Briefly, it goes like this: Generate interest by displaying value, then remove the opportunity for ownership based on a perception that the buyer isn’t “blank” enough to have it. Insert “rich” or “capable” for “blank”. Here, our would-be scammer offers 30% of an undisclosed sum, presents a prior case where a candidate had no capability, and then made the offer contingent on that capability. At this point, the 1st offer to “close the deal” is made, which is one reason why the email link is placed at that point in the email. Every salesman knows you need to say yes more than once to actually buy, so here is your 1st “chance” to say yes.
The other reason for that email link, and this is IMPORTANT, is that if you click that link, you have verified that there is a real person at your email address. These emails are spammed out. Many actually go nowhere, because the address doesn’t really exist. Once our guy here knows that your email is valid (by your reply), he can sell it to other spammers for a profit. It’s not the profit he’s after, mind you, but he’ll take what he can get. To find the real profit he’s looking for, let’s read on a bit further.
I have in safekeeping every document that will facilitate the released of this bequest with the finance Company. My health has deteriorated real badly, that I cannot do this myself anymore. My contacting you is divine and my faith is in God. More details will be communicated to you once you indicate your intention to assist.
Sorry to interrupt, but did you notice the verb disagreement in that 1st sentence? And the strange caps use in “finance Company”? How about the incorrect use of “real badly”? I particularly love the invocation of the “divine” and “God”. We’re basically being told that God led this man to us.
Please send me your contact information as:
Your full name
Telephone number and fax.
I will not contact any other person until I hear from you.
God bless you for anticipated support.
And now we know what this guy is really after. He wants to sell our identity! Name, address, phone number… all the usual stuff. An American identity with the features included as requested above is estimated to be worth between $25 and $80. This guy doesn’t want your identity. He wants to sell your identity. It’s much less risky to him, and anything he makes is all profit, anyway.
I am Jon. I work for you.