About once a week, I’ll go into my Google e-mail account and check out my Spam folder. There, I’ll usually find e-mails from a few retailers who, even though I’ve opted to receive e-mails from them, have broken some unwritten Google rules about what constitutes Spam.
A few observations: The Google Spam detector doesn’t like exclamation points in subject lines. Take this one from Staples: Penny deals and more ways to save! or this one from Hallmark: TOM, see 4 new Recordable Storybooks! It also doesn’t like numbers in subject lines, as evidenced by this example from Lending Tree: Tom, rates are as low as 2.5% (3.244% APR) and this one from ProFlowers: 40% off, Tom…Just because we like you☺ All wound up in my Spam folder.
But what’s most interesting and entertaining in my Spam box are the many “scam” e-mails I find there. These scams fall into a few categories, but they all have something in common: their tortured use of the English language, including misspellings and painfully awkward phrases, and their total lack of believability. Below are two types of scams I’ve noticed in abundance lately, as well as a new one.
Scam Category #1: You’re the lucky winner of a sweepstakes.
If you had checked my Spam box over the past few months, you’d see that I’m one lucky dude. For I’ve won everything from the Irish Sweepstakes to something called the Microsoft Lottery. Here’s an excerpt from my latest bonanza. It appears I’ve won a million-million dollars, which I think adds up to a gazillion.
Subject: Dear Lucky Winner
Your e-mail address have been Chosen today on the 1st March 2012, To free lotto Tickets No. lotto/2012/ATMcard. You have therefore been approved to claim a total sum of US1,000,000 Million Dollars in cash credited to file KTU/9023118308/03.
All participants for the online version were selected randomly from World Wide Web sites through computer draw system and extracted from over 100,000 unions, This compensation is proudly sponsored by the Microsoft Corporation, Coca Cola, MTN, Toyota and Toshiba.
Scam Category #2: Somebody died. Let’s share the inheritance.
Most of this type of e-mails center around something really bad happening, including plane and helicopter crashes, the Japanese Tsunami and even a military coup. In just the past week, I’ve heard from almost a dozen friends and relatives of the deceased whose stories always go like this: somebody suddenly died, there’s several million dollars in a bank somewhere, and my help is urgently needed to get it out. This recent entry will give you a good idea of the approach:
Subject: THANKS AND REMAIN BLESSED
I AM MR.FADI HASSAN A STAFF OF ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK IN BENIN REPUBLIC. I WANT TO TRANSFER AN ABANDONED SUM OF US$5.5MILLION INTO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT FOR US TO SHARE IT.
THE DEPOSITOR IS LATE SAIF AL-ARAB GADDAFI. ON 30TH APRIL 2011, THE LIBYAN GOVERNMENT REPORTED THAT SAIF AL-ARAB AND THREE OF HIS YOUNG NIECES AND NEPHEWS WERE KILLED BY A NATO AIRSTRIKE ON HIS HOUSE DURING THE 2011 LIBYAN CIVIL WAR LEAVING NOBODY FOR THE CLAIM.
I HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE DECEASED CUSTOMER`S ACCOUNT AND AS SUCH, WE CAN BOTH COLLECT THE MONEY WITHOUT ANY PROBLEM. THERE IS NO RISK INVOLVE IN THIS TRANSACTION. YOUR SHARE WILL BE 40% WHILE 60% WILL BE FOR ME. KINDLY FORWARD YOUR BANKING DETAILS FOR THE TRANSFER AS INDICATED BELOW….
New Scam Category: Love is in the air! So give me your bank account info.
Since I imagine the sweepstakes, inheritance and bank phishing scams are now growing a little tired, here’s a new one: a love letter of sorts from a “tall and fair” Guinean vixen. Of course, there are some strings attached to her appeal for a “relationship”.
Subject: My Dear,
How are you today? I know this mail will come to you as a surprise, because you don’t know me and I don’t know you well. Let me first of all introduce myself to you, My name is Miss Gladys Ijere Paul, 21 years old girl from Guinea Bissau. I am tall and fair in complexion, I am loving and caring. After finish my prayer, I got your email from yahoo trust search when I was searching for a foreign partner who will help me for business transaction.
Please reply me if only you are interested and ready to help me and provide an account that will be use in receiving the fund into your bank account. Please I need your help so that we can proceed.
Honestly Speaking I have a special something I want to discus with you about my life and this transaction; I know age will not be a beerier to our relationship. What I need is just your love and caring.
I will give you my best; I really want to have a good relationship with you. I will send my pictures to you and also tell you more about my self, Have a wonderful day with love and trust, bye for now; I am waiting to hear from you soon,
Sorry Miss Gladys, but my wife would not approve. And I could be wrong, but I have a funny feeling you’re more interested in a relationship with my money than with me. (Maybe I can connect her with the guy holding my sweepstakes winnings.)
Tom Rapsas is a writer and creative director working in direct and digital marketing, as well as a blogger and author. You can find him at tomrapsas.com