David Knopf - Millions of ‘Dollars U.S.’ hinge on just the right words
02/18/2013 11:52 AM
05/16/2014 9:11 PM
As I move into the autumn of my life, I’ve decided to do what I’m best at: make things up.
I originally thought I could find a laid-back retirement job as someone who ends sentences with prepositions or doesn’t finish what he starts, but opportunities there were scarce.
So I decided to look for work as a spammer.
I’m not really motivated by identity theft per se because I’ve got enough problems with my own. What would I do with two or three?
Besides, once you steal someone’s identity, what do you do with it? You just can’t saunter down to Joe’s EZ Cash and Pawn and sell it. You need technical and financial expertise, both of which I’ve put on my wish list for a future lifetime.
Technologically speaking, I have enough trouble figuring out how to turn off the speaker on my flip phone. Anything more complicated is out of the question.
Of course, I’d need a partner who could advise me on how to hack into people’s email addresses, a person with tech savvy. But I’d be the man to come up with believable yet glaringly obvious stories designed to bilk the elderly out of their life savings.
I’ve been studying the email that’s diverted to my spam, and from a strictly factual viewpoint, some of these stories make soap opera plots look like research articles from the Journal of Neurology.
If people are falling for these spam concoctions, imagine what they’d do with a well-crafted scenario that incorporated deft character development, unexpected denouement and subtle shading of language.
The first thing I’d need to come up with is a name — the person who’s writing and has the $146,999,686 Million Dollars U.S. sitting unclaimed in a Western Union office in the Phat Khii Mao District of Bangkok, Thailand.
Keep in mind that detail is paramount in constructing plausible scenarios. The individual who’s identified you, the moron, as a recipient always has at least two titles (i.e. Mr. Winston Fetterish, Esq.), sometimes three (Mr. Winston Fetterish, Esq., the Royal Exchequer of the Imperial Banque of Po, Lala and Dipsy), and the amount up for grabs is at least nine figures and includes the subtle redundancy of $, Million Dollars and U.S. to avoid any confusion about the dollars being from Botswana or the Republic of Ireland.
In addition, the salutation/introduction should always include an apology for “encroaching on your privacy” or “the delay in remittance,” and a lengthy explanation of how the Principal in this Matter, for example the Late Andreas Schranner, a German real-estate magnate, suffered an untimely death along with his entire immediate and extended family when his business jet crashed in the Andes Mountains.
For credibility, the message should be sprinkled liberally with Capitalized Words of Great Importance such as “Client,” “Solicitor and Private Attorney” and “Next of Kin.”
Typically, after extensive Probate Investigations and Internet Searches, the Solicitor has determined that you, the retired Sheet Metal Fabricator from Dubuque, Iowa, has “a very satisfactory email address” and should receive the loot.
The successful spam writer doesn’t “go for the kill” (i.e. Social Security and bank account numbers) with the first communication, but waits to see who takes the bait. That narrows the field to a select group of PUDs (Persons of Unusual Dimwittedness) who’ll receive follow-ups that gradually hone in on more sensitive information such as “wife’s shoe size,” “paper or plastic?” and preference for “thin, regular or thick crust” pizza.
From there, a big payday is right around the corner.
With patience, subtlety and guile, the spam writer can rise to the top of his profession and reap great rewards. He just has to be able to write on the run.