You should feel lucky if your email inbox has escaped the curse of the con artists. It seems like quite a few have made it their new year’s resolution to fleece as many of the unwitting as possible.
My email inbox has been inundated with notifications of winning sweepstakes in competitions I never even entered. It seems as if there are gobs of rich people out there, just aching to get rid of their money. Bill Gates and Microsoft just want you to forward this email to ten or twenty of your contacts, and within a specified period, you’ll get a check for Ten Thousand in the mail. Just like that. And there’s always a note from the sender that says: This actually works, folks!
We so want to believe the unbelievable. When I read the one that promised a free laptop if I forwarded the email to twenty contacts, I lost no time in getting a list together. My own laptop had been making some weird metallic noises each time it powered up, and I had this nagging fear that it was on the blink, so I emailed the list, feeling quite silly, but holding on to the faintest of hope that maybe, just maybe, this one was for real.
Six months later, and all I’m getting are more requests to forward mail, and scores of advisories that disclose millions of Euros lying around in banks, just waiting for me to send my vital statistics so I can claim the loot.
Then there are the inspiration chain emails. God is right there with Bill Gates. He either wants to bless me, or send me a personal guardian angel, or make my problems disappear, if only I forward the email to twenty contacts within the next five minutes. And if I don’t hurry, something dire might just happen.
So I’ve stopped reading them all. They go to my junk folder, and I delete en masse emails from those suspicious looking senders, like Mr.Abdel Olukoya Mrs.Jones Elizabeth and Mr.Nwachuku Jarvis, spaced just as you see here, almost every time. I’m now convinced they take lessons from the same manual, Con Artistry for Dummies, and that they firmly believe there’s a sucker born every minute. But the email that appeared in my inbox two weeks ago took the cake. It exuded pure charm in its florid Dickensian prose:
“Subsequent to your lack of response to our earlier letter to you on behalf of the Trustees and Executors to the Last Will and Testament of our late client Dr ENOS PORTER, Who before his most unfortunate demise, deposited as family belongings in a Bank in Hungary, the sum of Seventeen Million United States Dollars, with the hope of transferring it to his country as soon as he was granted leave.
“Since we have been without success in locating the relatives for over two years to this date, and have exhausted any hope of locating them, we seek your consent to present you as the Next of Kin of the Deceased, as you share the same last name with my Late Client, so that the proceeds of this deposit be sent to your own benefit.]
“Arrangements will be made for all Legal Documents to aid your claim to these monies, and to prove your relationship with the deceased. Your kind cooperation will be appreciated by Forty Percent of the total sum. All that is required is your assistance to enable us to complete this transaction.
“Please accept our apologies for any interference, keep our confidence and kindly disregard this email if not interested. However, if you do agree to these terms, in the interest of expediency, please include your full name, address with postal code, date of birth, bank account number, phone and fax number in your response for better communication.”
A classic, that one. Sheer poetry. I almost responded affirmatively.
The most distressing con is the one where you suddenly can’t access you mailbox, and as you marinate in all kinds of suspicions for hours, even days, a friend calls you to find out if you really are stranded in Lagos or Nairobi, all possessions stolen, and did you send an email requesting that $1500 be sent immediately by Western Union to an address in one of these capitals. You are in shock, and for days you feel as though your house has been burglarized. The crooks hijack the account, change the pasword and in twenty-four hours try to scam as many of the unsuspecting as possible.
But this must be big business, since the frequency and volume of such emails have shown no signs of abating. The best route to take, as I have learned, is not to respond, even if you are tempted to send a sharp message of reproof of the four-letter variety. As soon as you respond, your email address gets hot and the volume explodes. So the only way to deal with them is to delete, delete, delete.
Now perhaps you’ll stop forwarding those annoying not-so-funny emails yourself!