E-Scams: Mail Freud

This piece was originally published on http://globalnation.inquirer.net/viewpoints/viewpoints/view/20110419-332066/E-scams-Mail-Freud on April 19, 2011.

 

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.–Count me in among gullible Filipinos. Though I think of myself as an intelligent person, I was putty in the hands of online scammers who have become very sophisticated lately. They now deftly target, within a single email, all the vulnerabilities of a potential mark: the desire for financial gain, one’s altruism, patriotism, civic spirit, consumerism and sexual insecurities—all in one, and yes, always the appeal to base instincts. That’s how they finally got me, to my lasting shame. The following are the dastardly emails that separated me from my money. I was born yesterday, but you, dear readers, don’t have to be. Beware of the letters below should you find them in your inbox:

•••

Sir: My name is Jose Pidal, CEO of F.E. Ventures Inc., and a trusted name in Philippine finance. My co-investor Juan Miguel Arroyo, the Philippines’ top security guard, and I bought a house in Foster City, California, which we sold for a profitable $1.1 million. My ordeal began after I deposited the check. As I was leaving the bank, I was robbed at gunpoint and badly beaten. My credit cards, passport and plane ticket were taken. I only have cash in my pocket for one night at a Motel 6. Mikey Arroyo can’t help me because, contrary to allegations by tax investigators, he is not very rich. Please help me get home by emailing your credit card information. In return, you will share in our profits from the house sale, plus 10 percent of his mother’s $18 million secret fertilizer fund, subject to the retention of the current Ombudsman. You will also receive the Johnson Erectoplex, Patent No. 13192018-B8R of which I am the sole distributor. It’s guaranteed to double your penis size in a matter of weeks.

•••

Dear Sir: My humble compliments! You are the lucky winner of a brand new iPad 4 just for responding to this email. I am Goodluck M’dhaya, Senior Auditor at the Nigerian Oil Ministry, with a proposal that could elevate your country’s wellbeing. Chevron Corp. has reserved $3 billion in lieu of paying multibillion-dollar fines for ruining our environment. It is stipulated that some of the funds should go to oil-dependent nations like yours that are facing rising oil-prices. Your President will receive $300 million to subsidize a freeze on oil prices. You, as a guarantor, will receive $3 million for fulfilling your patriotic duty. But you must send me $200 in cashier’s check and your bank account number as proof that good citizens like you will stand by your President even though he loves Porsches more than good-looking women in your country. Upon completion of our transaction, you will receive as a token of gratitude a year’s supply of rhinoceros horn extract for your lonely President.

 

•••

Sir: I am Tucker Spinowski, political action committee spokesman for former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, who has been accused of serial infidelity. Newt has honestly stated that his passion for his country led him to neglect his home life, and extramarital mistakes were made. The good news is that you, too, can acquire a boundless passion for America just like Mr. Gingrich, and thereby improve your love life. By attending Newt’s Love of Country Lecture Weekend in sunny Palm Beach, Florida, you’ll learn from the man himself how to become such a hot-blooded patriot, the Daughters of the American Revolution will say, “Wrrr, what a scoundrel!” Become a manly conservative for just $2,000 for the two-day seminar. A deposit of $500 in cashier’s check guarantees your admission. You’ll feel great about America. It’s better than Viagra.

•••

To Whom It May Concern: I am Sergei Gudenov, Chief Customs Inspector of Moscow Airport. In 2008, I confiscate from visiting Fillipino police general 105,000 cash euros. Sufficient to say, we in Moscow are much impressed with Fillipino police pay scale. According to manager of The Bank of the Volga, I cannot return the cash euros to your national police apparat unless a Fillipino citizen endorses the transfer for me. So, for benefit of your Fatherland, send me a vouching letter and $300 cashier check as good confidence proof. Help me return the money if you are genuine paramour of your country (like Newt Gingrich of America). In addendum I will send special beluga love potion for benefit of Mrs. Whom It May Concern.

•••

Dear Brother in Faith: This chain letter was started 700 years ago by an obscure Umbrian monk named Fra Furbo Tusipazzo. He lived as a hermit in a limestone cave. One day, a mystical light revealed to him that a man should spill his seed only for procreation. He started flogging himself daily. Upon obtaining indulgences from the Bishopric of Pryggia, Fra Tusipazzo began a crusade against the malign practice of procreatus interruptus. “To know someone biblically just for the sake of biblically knowing is a sin worthy of Satan’s embrace,” he wrote sagely to anyone whose mailing address he could procure. Today’s campaign by the Philippine Catholic Church against the Reproductive Health Bill in Congress extends the spirit of Fra Tusipazzo’s holy war against non-procreational sex.

 

To help spread the ancient monk’s message, send a copy of this letter to six friends, plus 1,000 pesos cash to PO Box 123, Manila, and good fortune will come to you. Senator Ping Lacson, a fugitive, received the letter, mailed six copies and gave 1,000 pesos. He returned home like a rock star, with fake travel documents, yet he wasn’t even arrested. But ignore it at your peril. Ferdinand Marcos threw the letter away, and today he still can’t get defrosted as a national hero. But Messrs. Pidal, Spinowski, M’Dhaya and Gudonov faithfully followed the letter’s instruction, and they found you as a willing business partner. Newt Gingrich ignored the letter and has a lot of explaining to do.

•••

Unfortunately, I received the cautionary chain letter last, after I had already responded to the other emails. And because I crumpled the letter as trash, I lost thousands of dollars to Pidal, Spinowski, M’dhaya, Gudenov and PO Box 123. I also never received an iPad or any of the potions. Besides, my penis size remained the same.

Luckily, I still have $80,000 in certificates of deposits, which will be maturing in two months. But I have no cash to pay even for groceries. I’m so desperate that if you send me $1,000 in cashier’s check I’ll transfer half of the CDs to your bank account. I’ll throw in the Johnson Electroplex.

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