Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Spam Scam Artistry

I am in receipt of mercifully little unsolicited e-mail. For a while, I was getting all kinds of offers from people with wonderful names like Eureka Frontile, Alistair Loveless, and Cassia Brawn, who wanted me to take their stock tips, pop their pills, or buy their knock-off watches. But comcast got wise, and I get them no more. (Alas, I do miss the names.)

So I was somewhat surprised - but quite elated -  to receive a note from Mr. Len Mcray, "writing from London," who has an amazing deal to offer me. One that certainly looks like it would provide quite an excellent return. I haven't gotten back to Mr. Mcray just yet, so I don't have all the details. But let's just say that I could be ahead $1.8 million with very little investment on my part.

For those of you with suspicious minds, I can only say that you must have very little faith in your fellow man (and fellow e-mail users) if you don't believe that Mr. Len Mcray is on the up and up.

He sounds to me like a very generous individual - or someone who works for a very generous organization - who is willing, out of the sheer goodness of his heart, to share  with me in a way that few investment opportunities have offered in the past.  All he's asking in return is a hand-up - not, I must stress, a hand out.

To demonstrate just why I think this is such a sound way for me to generate more wealth than I could ever hope to make in such a short time from my own hard work or paltry investments, I will offer some excerpts from Mr. Mcray's e-mail.

The first grabber is his way of addressing me:

"Attention Manager/Ceo"

Well, I'm not a CEO, except of my own life, but I have been a manager.

So this assures me that Mr. Mcray already knows something about me. Mistaking me for a CEO is commonplace. I don't golf, but if I had an only slightly different personality I'm quite sure I could have been one. In fact, as I mentioned, there is some context (my own life) in which I am, in fact, a CEO, and Mr. Mcray may be alluding to that.

Mr. Mcray then, quite nicely, introduces himself.

"My name is Mr. Len Mcray,writing from London."

Note that he has given me not only his first and last names, but his honorific ("Mr."), and his location. He is clearly someone who is proud of just who he is, a humble "Mr.", and not someone who feels the need to aggrandize himself as a "Dr." or an "Esq." I like that in a business man. I mean, Jack Welch has his PhD, but I've never heard him referred to as Dr. Welch.

In fact, the use of "Len" rather than Leonard is another nice Welchian touch. It's always Jack, never John.

So Len Mcray is in good company. (Perhaps he has even read Jack. I must ask him when I respond to his e-mail.)

Mr. Mcray also tells me that he is from London, not from Nigeria or some other place where one might expect Nigerian scam artists to be from. (This is reinforced quite well by his e-mail address at yahoo.uk.com. And no, I am not suspicious that he does not provide a formal business address, which means nothing. Do you know how easy it is to hop on GoDaddy and sign up for a "real" url and e-mail address? In fact, the use of a yahoo e-mail address further underscores my belief that Mr. Mcray is a humble and honest man. No fancy honorific, no fancy e-mail address either.)

I myself use simple e-mail addresses, once again underscoring what I sense is a growing bond, a certain simpatico, between me and Mr. Len Mcray.

Mr. Mcray - or, as I'm starting to think of him, Len - lets me know that "your info was reliably introduced to me." Again, he astutely offers me assurances by indicating that my info was reliably introduced, not unreliably introduced. I don't know who to thank for this introduction, but I encourage him or her to come forth. (And, let's face it, once I score the $1.8 M, they'll be coming out of the woodwork to let me know that they were the ones who reliably introduced my information to Len.)

In an example of brilliantly concise business writing, Len then cuts to the chase:

I will like to invest in your country but I don't know
anybody that will help me when I come over there that
is my reason of contacting you to know if you will be
of assistance.

That poor fellow! He doesn't know any Americans who can help him out when he comes over here. No wonder he's contacting me. Maybe he knows that I'm the daughter of an immigrant, and am way benevolently disposed to people coming over here to make their fortune. Len, Len, Len, I (metaphorically speaking) "lift my golden lamp beside the Golden door."

Len falls down a bit when it comes to the actual details of the business deal, but he does talk magnitude.

I have $18M dollars to invest in a profitable business
in your country.

OK, $18M won't exactly buy you a YouTube, but it's not exactly chump change, either, now is it? And I'm almost tearing up about his desire to invest in a profitable business. How many times have I worked for unprofitable businesses? Yet Len doesn't hold that against me. I mean, when I told some people that I was thinking of exploring work in the  non-profit sector, they actually seemed to sneer. "Well, you've certainly got plenty of experience working for non-profits, don't you? Might as well try your hand at places that are intentionally non-profit, eh." 

Although Len doesn't ask outright for my help in picking a business, I'm going to read a bit between the lines and say that he does seem to have faith that I can maybe help him identify a good, profitable business for him.

I thank you, Len. From the very bottom of my heart, I thank you for that show of faith.

Len's note continues:

The money is right now in an Embassy vault in Europe.

Once again, just when I might be starting to be a teensie-weensie bit suspicious, Len lets me know that the money is in Embassy vault. Embassy? Does it get any more reputable than that? And vault? That sounds to me like he's got the money in cash.

I am ready to give you 10% of the money if you assist me.

That 10% rings loud and clear. And, knowing Len the way I think I do, my guess is that the tit-for-tat is not going to be that big a deal. I'm guessing he'd like me to help him find a local bank, maybe show him around town, introduce him to a few friends in financial services or tech. It sounds like he's looking for a friend as much as he is looking for a business partner. He may need a little walking around money once he gets here, a little spare change for starting things up. I've heard how slow to move those Embassy vaults can be when you try to get your cash out. They're as impregnable as Fort Knox. So I may have to put a little good faith money up. I mean, how can I expect a reward as big as $1.8M if I'm not willing to risk a paltry couple of thousands?

Here's where it gets a little fuzzy for me, and I'll have to think about it some more.

If you can handle it then let me know so that we shall plan how to meet ourselves to workout modalites.

The problem is that Len's asking about working out modalites, and I'm not exactly sure what he means. Modalities I've heard of. And electrolytes, sure. Which may make sense since he's talking about "workout modalities" and when you work out you need to worry about your electrolytes. Maybe he's thinking of investing in a business like Gatorade?

In any case, I'm going to do a little bit more research - especially on modalites - before I get back to Len.

But I'm really leaning in the direction of making the bold move and just saying yes. Throw a little caution to the wind here. Fortune favors the brave and all that.

And, no, I'm not going to give you his e-mail address and have the poor guy bombarded by people who want to get in on the big pay-off.  You think I was born yesterday or something?

Smarty-pants readers who already have some modalites in mind may think they can figure out his e-mail address just from the hints I've dropped here?

Well, here's a little warning for you. I'm usually the trusting type, but this one's just too big, so I've disguised "Len's" name just a tiny bit.

If somehow you manage to figure it out, if somehow you and "Len" find that all your cylinders and modalites are clicking, if somehow you're able to score the $1.8M ahead of me. Well, just remember, YOU OWE ME ONE.


Charles H. Green said...

Love it.

I find that, if I have way too much time on my hands and am feeling cantankerous, I enjoy leading these people on.

First, I write back to thank them profusely for the faith they have shown in selecting me, and assuring them that I share their ethics/concern/charity, and want to help them.

I then say that of course they can understand my concern that on occasion people have been known to work scams, and while it's clear to me that they are not such persons, nonetheless I'm sure they can understand why it's important for us to establish mutual trust, and therefore I'll do this wonderful deed to help people for only half of what they are suggesting to give me--but that I need a small cashier's check for $10,000 sent to me in advance as a simple sign of good faith.

In other words, scam the scammers.

I make sure to make a few spelling errors. Also I find it's useful to sign them "in Jesus' name,.."

I'm amazed that they come back to me. THe most recent one said they couldn't do that because the bank was in Europe. TO which I replied I was going to be in Amsterdam in the next few weeks with some extra time, just tell me where in Europe and I'll go there to meet them.

They them came back to me, I to them.

So far my best is four iterations before I finally unload a few obscenities.

Cheap entertainment I figure.

Maureen Rogers said...

Charlie - You are too funny! It never occurred to me to respond to one of these scammers, but I think if I hear from "Len Mcray" again I'll drop him a line back. (Just hope he doesn't show up on my doorstep.)

Anonymous said...

hi i received the same letter from len mccray but this is definitely fraud because i have the same email but his name is now mr ken mckay

Maureen Rogers said...

Anonymous - Len and Ken are one and the same. I did not use his "real" name, as I was concerned that, since I hinted at the e-mail address, someone might try to get ahold of him and get conned into the scam.

ilanit said...

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