The Joy of Spam

by Pari

I’m an organic writer; I don’t edit on the first pass. Not a bit. Not even if I’ve got a run of two, three or four sentence fragments. Or a string of double negatives. Not that I don’t pay attention to those later. And that doesn’t mean I don’t adore analyzing language and syntax.

Though I haven’t been editing my work lately, Providence provides. Each week brings a blessed writing sample to my inbox.

Last Tuesday I received this wonderful letter. Please be assured that I haven’t altered a single word or punctuation element; I wouldn’t dare . . .

“Dear Beneficiary,

I am Timothy F. Geithner. The Secretary of the Treasury under the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The executive agency responsible for promoting economic prosperity and ensuring the financial security of the United States.”

Do you see what I mean? What’s not to love about this? First the personal greeting. And just in case I didn’t know who Mr. Geithner was, he spelled it out for me. Even if he hadn’t shown such kindness, I’d read through an entire paragraph of sentence fragments just to see what comes next.

“However, by virtue of my position as Secretary of the Treasury, I have irrevocably instructed the Federal Reserve Bank to approve your fund release via issuance of a CERTIFIED cheque drawn on Standard Chartered Bank california, USA, which is the authourized bank for your fund release.”

Wow. Such big official-sounding words. This must be real, right?

But waitaminiute. What’s that “However” there for? And cheque and california and authourized? Typos and rotten punctuation? Something isn’t right here. Could this letter be a fake? Does not the government want to bestow upon me my due?

“However, as a former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York . . .”

Hold on! Another however? What is this? Doesn’t the man know he had me at “Timothy F. Geithner?”

“ . . . and being a versatile banker of repute with about 25 years experience in the financial sector, I wish to state categorically that a CERTIFIED cheque of $6,500,000.00 USD drawn on the Standard Chartered Bank will be issued and sent to you via the US Postal Service at no cost to you.“

Well, that’s a relief. I can deal with as many howevers  and categoricallys as he wants to throw at me as long as he’s sending that kind of dough. And even though I don’t understand why he keeps trying to convince me about his credentials and why he’s not sure how long he was in the financial sector and he insists on spelling check a la Britannia . . .  I’ll still go along for the ride.

“Every and all cost associated with the delivery of the cheque has been pre-paid by the U.S. Government.”

Gosh, that’s generous.

“The only cost associated with your fund release is the cost of processing a ‘Fund Clearance Certificate’, which is estimated to the value of $150.00 USD.”

Um, Houston? We seem to have a breakdown here. I’m not quite following . . . perhaps if I read further, I’ll understand how there could be no cost to me but there’s still a cost.

“The ‘Fund Clearance Certificate’ is required in accordance with the U.S. Monetary Policy; and it is the ONLY expenses you will incurr before the cheque will be sent to your mailing address . . .”

O, dashed hope! O, cruel fate! Timothy, how could you?
Alas, I am not destined to a life of bonbons and caviar. For no matter how much I try to pretend it isn’t so, there is a cost to me and, dear friend.

I. Pari Noskin, writer. Of Murderati. And the esteemed writing publisher such as the University of New Mexico Presses.
Can not.
Pay it.

Question of the day:

What’s the best spam you’ve received? If you can provide an example of the literary masterpiece, that’d be even better. However NO links, please. I’ll delete them immediately.


18 thoughts on “The Joy of Spam

  1. B.G. Ritts

    A selection from the past two months:

    Dr. Edward of Lagos Nigeria has $52 million for me. It "…can only be approved to any foreigner Who can present all documents that will prove that he/she is the Next of Kin/Beneficiary to the account base on the fact that Mr. Magnus Leon The owner of this account is a foreigner…"

    "I am Gregory Patrick, Former funds Manager with fidelity investment international Zurich one of the world largest fund management company with over 1.2 trillion pounds capital investment funds.

    Nevertheless, as fidelity former Fund Manager, I handle all our investors direct capital funds during my tenure. A total of $18million was made with our company under your last name but a different first name and this deposit was terminated in September 18th 2004 by the investor and since then I have not set my eyes on him. I was informed he died in a plane crash with his wife. I have tried all possible best to locate the family members but all my effort was unproductive. Not any other person has the information’s about this investment fund except me. 2 weeks ago, I had a meeting with my Executives at Zurich branch and was instructed as the fund manager of the deceased investor to provide his next of kin or foreign business partner otherwise they will convert the $18m into company’s treasury after December 30th 2011. This is why I decided to run a search on that last name to locate someone who bears the same last name so as to find out if he/she is related to the deceased and if not t

    Meanwhile, I have worked out the strategies and technicalities on how the FUND can be claimed without any hitch. Our sharing ration will be 55:40%, while 5% will be for expenses we may incur during the process of the transaction. Should you be interested, let me know so I can forward the details to you.

    You can contact me…"
    etc., etc., etc.

    "We wish to notify you again that you are listed as a beneficiary to the total sum of Twenty Million Six Hundred Thousand British Pounds in the codicil and last testament of the deceased. (Name now withheld since this is our second letter to you). We contacted you because of your good name to the society and basically we can present you as the beneficiary to the inheritance. All the legal papers will be processed in your acceptance to this deal. We request that you kindly forward to us your acceptance Notification; your current telephone and fax numbers and a forwarding address to enable us file necessary documents for the release of this sum of money.

    Please contact me for further details of the funds."
    etc., etc., etc.

    "I AM THE BILL AND EXCHANGE MANAGER OF ECO BANK. I Hoped that you will not expose or betray this trust. I need your urgent assistance in transferring the sum of ($10 million) immediately to your account.I will send you full details on how the business will be executed, I want you to flourish me with this datial's:"
    etc., etc., etc.

    "After much attempts to reach you on phone, I deemed it necessary and urgent to contact you via your e-mail address and to notify you finally about your outstanding compensation payment.

    During our last annual calculation of your banking activities we have realized that you are eligible to receive a compensation payment of $2,811,041.00 USD. This compensation is being made to all of you who have suffered loss as a result of fraud, accident or illness.

    For more info, contact the assigned UPS agent for the delivery of your cashier check."
    etc., etc., etc. (they only need a $95 handling fee)

    Western Union has $10.5 million for me, all I need to do is pay $105.

    The London Olympics Lottery would like to have my bank transfer info to send me "One Million British Pounds Sterling".

    And finally, over the past five weeks I've received three e-mails asking me to contact Agent Brian of the FBI, who is obviously desperate to contact me about "a seized consignment bearing your personal information." There have been three separate reply e-mail addresses and ID numbers noted. I wonder which I'm supposed to use?

  2. Pari Noskin

    I think we're on some of the same mailing lists! I've received notes addressed to Beloved one and Dear one from Nigeria and Switzerland. Dr. Edward is just desperate to give that money away.

    However, I've only received one note from the FBI . . .

    You'd think these people would hire an English teacher to check grammar though. There are just too many giveaways for most people who pay attention.

  3. Pari Noskin

    Spam can be instructive in the same way that advertising can. You can dissect it for both the effective points and, well, those that are just plain silly. I hope the post gave you a smile.

  4. Sarah W

    All I've received lately through e-mail are product offers aimed at helping me with intimate problems and personal inadequacies I wasn't aware a person of my gender could suffer (Freud's theories aside) and several invitations from lonely housewives.

    My blog spam is similar, except for that one person who keeps sending me long, be-linked passages in a Cyrillic alphabet. I'm assume s/he is a former Treasury minister of some country or other who desperately needs my help, but I haven't translated it, yet — knowing for sure would ruin my daydream of being the last heir of a deposed royal line (never mind my older cousins) with no political power, but one heck of a jewelry collection waiting for me offshore somewhere.

  5. David Corbett

    I'd like to tell you the best spam I've ever received, but my penis is so large now I can no longer reach the keyboard.


    A buddy of mine at the FBI said that if you put up a page on the Internet that said: Send me $50 and gave an address, you'd get more money than you know what to do with.

    Gee, if you got just three response, Pari, you could answer this email and get $6.5 mil!!!

  6. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    My favorite, and the one I nearly fell for, is the one where a Facebook friend emails me to say that he's in London and was robbed at gun-point last night. His money and credit cards are gone and he needs my credit card number so he can pay his hotel bill and get a flight home. I actually went "live" with this guy – went back and forth with emails for a bit before he abandoned me and my lack of credit.

  7. Lisa Alber

    Aw man, I haven't received any good ones in awhile. I remember one entitled "Genie bra – what all women wish for." All I can say is that if Daniel Craig doesn't pop out of the bra cup and grant me three wishes, then I'm not buying.

    (Speaking of which, saw a commercial for the U.S. version of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO last night featuring Mr. Craig and an unknown-to-me actor playing Lisbet…)

    Facebook spam riles me up. At one point I apparently got a free iPad and had to tell all my friends about it.

  8. Reine

    Hahaaaa — good one, Pari!

    Here's one I got . . . not the best, but the best is too . . . mmmmm . . . well . . . too best.


    We want to transfer to overseas ($ 27,500.000.00 USD) Twenty seven million Five hundred thousand United States Dollars) from the Bank of Africa, I want to ask you to quietly look for a reliable and honest person who will be capable and fit to provide either an existing bank account or to set up a new Bank a/c immediately to receive this money, even an empty a/c can serve to receive this funds quitely.

    I am MR. KOFO ABAYOMI, the accountant personal confidant to Dr. Ravindra F. Shah who died together with his wife Dr.Mrs. Manjula Parikh-Shah in a plane crash on the 1st Oct. 2003 on their way to attend wedding in Boston.

    Mr. Ravindra F. Shah, is an American, a physician and industrialist, he died without having any beneficiary to his assets including his account here in Burkina Faso which he opened in a Bank of Africa in the year 2000 as his personal savings for the purpose of expansion and developement of his company before his untimely death in 2003.

    The amount involved is (USD 27,500,000.00)Twenty seven Million Five Hundred Thousand USD, no other person knows about this account, I am contacting you for us to transfer this funds to your account as the beneficiary, I want to first transfer $7,500.000.00 ( Seven million five hundred thousand USD) from this money into a safe account abroad, after which we will transfer the remaining (20M) but I don't know any foreigner, I am only contacting you as a foreigner because this money can not be approved to a local person here, without valid international foreign passport, but can only be approved to any foreigner with valid international passport or drivers license and foreign a/c because the money is in US Dollars and the former owner of the a/c Mr.Ravindra F. Shah is a foreigner too, and as such the money can only be approved into a foreign a/c.However, I am revealing this to you with believe in ALLAH that you will never let me down in this business, you are the first and the only person that I am contacting for this business, so please reply urgently so that I will inform you the next step to take urgently.

    Send also your private telephone and fax number including the full details of the account to be used for the deposit.I need your full co-operation to make this work fine. because the management is ready to approve this payment to any foreigner who has correct information of this account, which I will give to you, upon your positive response and once I am convinced that you are capable and will meet up with instruction of a key bank official who is deeply involved with me in this business.

    At the conclusion of this business, you will be given 30% of the total amount, 60% will be for me, while 10% will be for expenses both parties might have incurred during the process of transferring.I look forward to your earliest reply . You can reply to my personal email address as stated below:


  9. PD Martin

    Wouldn't it be nice if someone did send us a large chunk of money! I definitely need a patron.

    I don't get that much spam (thankfully), but it's nearly always the inheritance ones. They must know I'm a woman, cause I rarely/never get the penis enlargement ones. Then again, I don't get breast enlargement ones either…


  10. Pari Noskin

    Cyrillic? Really? Man, if i had the time I might try to help translate it.
    . . . maybe in another life.

    David . . . um . . . congratulations?
    Actually, I might do that with the page. Sounds like an easy buck.

    Do tell your friends. After all, what are friends for?

    Holy Cow. That one was a bit more sophisticated than mine. I'm not surprised that people click — and respond. So many of us remain gullible in the face of our incredible cynicism.

  11. Pari Noskin

    I've gotten several of those in email form in my author inbox. They smelled from the beginning because most of them were from people I didn't know well — and my friends would've found a way to call me.

    I like your condition for the Genie bra. Let me know if it happens, 'kay?
    FB spam hasn't hit me much yet. Of course, b/c I just wrote that, I'm gonna get hit in a major way today!

    Wow. I bet people fall for it because it makes the reader feel like such a good guy – – a real humanitarian. Sheesh. It breaks my heart sometimes how easily our insecurities can be preyed upon.

    I'm sorry to hear about the lack of penis spam. I get it every week. Of course, no one knows what to do with my name, so I generally get everything a person can get.

  12. Katherine Howell

    I get the money ones now and again, and yesterday got the same type as Stephen, supposedly from my uncle who was suddenly in Spain and had been mugged and the hotel manager wouldn't let him check out until he'd paid the bill and so he needed money desperately! But seeing as how my uncle going overseas anywhere, let alone to Spain, would be such an event in our family that everyone would be talking about it endlessly, I figured it probably wasn't really from him ….

  13. Pari Noskin

    Thank you. I usually delete w/o reading, but the one from "Geithner" just got to me. It was so wonderful I just had to share it.

    I sometimes wonder what will happen when spam becomes truly personalized . . . kind of like how their creating designer drugs now. Just think of a time when there's designer spam. Sounds like it could be the beginning of story, doesn't it?

  14. Reine

    Pari, there is already designer spam that is targeted to individuals according to their Internet choices and forms, lists — anything that identifies you with your email somehow or companies that sell your info. Most of my commercial spam goes straight to my spam folder. I have to admit a certain nostalgia for the descriptions of large penises.

    Just yesterday my FB info was used to send me faux friend requests supposedly from several Ugandans that named actual FB friends and stated these as "friends we have in common." The email went straight to my inbox. It looked just like the regular email friend requests I get from

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