If your junk email inbox is anything like mine, then like me, every week you too are forced to employ nothing short of heavy-duty earth-moving equipment to clear away the mountain of excrescence that has built up over the preceding seven days.
You KNOW the type of ooze I’m referring to – emails from the ‘Healthy Hearing Institute’, the dodgy loan companies you’ve never heard of, the unnamed organizations offering everything from denture upgrades, military flashlights, home roofing deals and butt enhancement cream (ok, so I clicked on that one) to diabetic strips for cash, medical ‘cannabliss’, all manner of rubbish gift cards, as well as the stock standard bogus blood pressure alerts and naturally enough that old chestnut – weight loss products by the barrel full.
That’s nothing to say of the linguistically challenged red flags whose minimalist subject headings always read something like ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘Good morning’ or the most annoying of all ‘What’s Up?’ (but never with a capital ‘W’). There’s regular droppings from Casino4You, Bitcoin and Huggle Hoodie Offer as well as the ‘Private Message for You’ type. The so-called ‘Russian Beauties’ who claim to want to meet me are pretty persistent as well.
Most conniving of them all however is the offal whose subject heading begins ‘Re:’, giving the impression they’re responding to a message you sent them. I bet they think they’re so clever and maybe they were a couple of years back when that type of deception first appeared but really… that guile is so 2015 the dimwits really ought to have come up with something new by now. (Other tricks in their arsenal – the ‘ol CONGRAULATIONS! subject heading as well as the emails asking you to confirm an order for something you know you’ve never made).
There’s absolutely no point as well in me requesting the person who calls themselves ‘Backdoor 66’ to cease sending me the crude invites. ‘Cause every time I click ‘Unsubscribe’ you can bet the house what I’m actually doing – according to the twisted logic at work within the vast scamiverse – is precisely the reverse ie. confirming my renewed interest in continuing to receive this blather.
I got to thinking – and after ploughing through that rogues gallery roll-call of unsolicited detritus listed above I’m quite sure you’d agree – a little bit of payback was long overdue.
The plan was simple. I would choose an email promising me riches beyond my wildest dreams, feign interest in what they had to say and in the process attempt to waste as much of their time as possible. The blueprint for my ‘scam the scammer’ little rouse was the video I’ve included below. It goes for close to 10 minutes but if you can stay with it it definitely delivers on laughs and the slightly snide warm inner glow that comes with comeuppance.
Yeah, love even just the sound of that word… comeuppance!
In truth, the internet is littered with stories and videos of people getting their own back against admittedly not-so-bright scam artists. As always the first question is “Where’s the game?, something I ask myself regularly.
In the end, a total of 26 emails across nine days were exchanged between myself and the flippy fraudster I chose to engage. This person claimed to be female (something I’m pretty certain wasn’t true). Gender then would provide me with the angle I needed.
As our conversations across the days unfolded, I cranked out my very best ♥ ‘lonely hearts’ ♥ persona and managed to pretend to become totally besotted by this person. The aim was to gradually move our exchanges more and more away from the business side of things and more on to talk about ‘us’.
And I’m pleased to say, things worked out quite well in this regard. A lot of time and effort was outlayed by this swindling shark for zero reward.
It all started with this unsought email I received from a person calling themselves Catherine Bessant –
Hello Dear Friend,
I am Ms. Catherine Bessant deputy to Mr. Willem Badenhorst the head of luggage/baggage storage facilities at the John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY USA.
In our last withheld-package routine check at the Airport Storage facility, we discovered an abandoned Metal Trunk Box prior to state confiscation, and decided to electronically scan it and ascertain its content.
When scanned, it revealed US Dollar, but due to the extreme security and seals of the metal trunk box, we could not ascertain the amount it inside, but I am sure it wouldn’t be less than 4 million dollars.
If you are interested I need your prompt response in order to update your information in the general waybill ledger, and we will take care of the United States Non Inspection Fee of 3,200.00 USD as well as arrange for the delivery and handover to you to you. If you can be fair enough, you will part with 40% of the money to us for our effort, while you take 60%.
However, to facilitate processing and delivery to you as the recipient, I want you to provide your complete names, Phone Number and delivery Address to affect the official documents. Also include the name of the nearest Airport around your city.
As a result of the sensitivity of this deal, we will not transact with our official email account or phone. So send your response through this my private email address or through the email address of Mr. Willem Badenhorst firstname.lastname@example.org as he will be communicating directly with you as my boss.
We can get everything concluded within 5 working days upon your acceptance of the terms with an immediate feedback.
You can always call me on Mr. Badenhorsts telephone number: +1 (917) 473 0062 or drop sms if he is not available to accept your call.
Ms. Catherine Bessant.
I responded the next day with a ‘hard of hearing’ old-school clarifyer –
How much did you say was in the metal trunk?
What followed was an attempt at what’s known in the trickster trade as a ‘handover’ to another person (supposedly higher up the clown-infested pecking order).
please contact my boss Mr. Willem Badenhorst or I will have him contact you.
Phone: +1 (917) 473 0062
I declined the offer to deal with someone else and so commenced my plan to bit by bit romantically connect with ‘Catherine’
I prefer to deal with the likes of you.
Feeling like the fish may just have climbed on to the end of the hook and my plan was beginning to gain steam,‘Catherine’ appeared fine with this and replied in this long-winded fashion –
Good Evening Dear Glen Donaldson,
I have shown your mails to my boss and your desire to be dealing directly with me. That is fine by me since my boss is also fine with it.
Thank you for your response and understanding. As I stated in the first mail you received, I will commence negotiation with the airport vault authority for the release of the withheld luggage to you since we are on the same page now.
The starting point is getting approval to pay the US Non Inspection Charges of $3,200 on your behalf. Inability to make that payment initially was the main reason the consignment was withheld by the Airport authority.
If approval is given I will pay the fee, and negotiate for the release of the luggage to you, and as soon as I am able to clear the major release requirements, I shall make arrangement for final delivery to you.
You have to assure me once again that my own share of the money as agreed will be given to me as I undertake processing the release of the luggage on your behalf.
You know it is easy to make promises in the absence of tangible reality, so please I want you to respect my part of this effort, while I promise to do my best to pay all the needed fees, and work out a plan to ensure I am with the delivery department when hand over will be made to you. If not, I will have to depend on your sincere magnanimity and charity to get my part. But I will do anything I can to be with the courier department when it will be delivered to you or even be with you before the delivery is done. I hope you understand.
Once again to ensure the full protection of our persons since it is only you and I that know the content of the box so far, I would respectfully request for confidentiality. I want you to keep the contents of our communication confidential since I will be retiring soon and wouldn’t want to end up risking my pension and retirement benefits, or lose this opportunity. So I would strongly advise you to be discrete as ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’.
You should provide your contact address, phone number and nearest airport for processing to commence.
Ms, Catherine Bessant; for
Mr. Willem Badenhorst
Use of the adage ‘loose lips sink ships‘ was the first of many unintended crackups from ‘Catherine’. In turn I replied with some false details of my own –
This is starting to get exciting!
My details are as follows –
23 Orchid Avenue
Surfers Paradise 4217
(07) 56 57 6888
I would prefer to transact through the Gold Coast Airport.
Ps. With you 100% on the ‘loose lips sink ships’ thing and therefore agree with the decision to go via plane.
And that brings to an end Part 1 of THE STING.
Tune in next week for the continuing adventures of Catherine, myself and the mythical abandoned metal trunk containing the even more mythical unclaimed $4 million.
I haven’t seen it myself yet but from the first-hand reports I’ve been getting from people who have, Nicole Kidman‘s new undercover cop movie DESTROYER is next level hard-core, gritty and downright ghoulish.
Last time I remember something being given the title DESTROYER was rock group KISS‘s fourth studio album back in ’76. That turned out well for those guys so let’s see how critical reception lands for Nicole.