Caryn Gootkin steps off her moral high horse for a moment, which was all it took for her alter ego, the Pedantic Player, to write a business proposal to email fraudsters.
Dear email writers (you are too numerous to address separately so please forgive the group email)
I have recently received via email numerous letters purporting to be from various credible international institutions. The content of each email is different but the gist is the same: I have won some amazing monetary prize, which, due to an administrative bungle, I can’t receive until I verify some personal details.
I am shocked and outraged at these letters. I regard them as a personal insult. How dare you address me in such a manner? I demand to be removed from your mailing lists. Your communications make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I would like to turn you over to the relevant authority. (However, as you exist only in cyberspace I am not sure which authority has jurisdiction over you.)
I have just reread the previous paragraph and realised with a blush that you may have misunderstood me, thinking my anger is directed at your criminal activities. Worry not; I have long ago given up wasting time and energy on such futile pursuits.
But I digress. The reason your letters evoke such a strong reaction in me is that they are written so badly. Yes, I may no longer be a moral firebrand, but I am still a linguistic purist. Some even call me a pedant, but I am not sure I like the negative connotations that word carries.
Let me show you what I mean. The extract below is supposedly from some branch of the United Nations. Now, it’s highly unlikely I could ever attract the attention of any arm of the United Nation but, aside from that, the logo looks fake, the word choice is questionable, the tone is overly grandiose and the grammar is awful. Who taught you to write like this? I have underlined below some sections that are particularly poorly written and, if you so wish will show you how you could improve them.
We have actually been authorized …to investigate the unnecessary delay on your payment, recommended and approved in your favor. You are therefore advice to contact… As soon as you establish a contact with her…
In a similar vein, I received a letter allegedly from Yahoo! UK & Ireland. Once again I will overlook the fact that the logo, which I have copied below, does not match that on the official Yahoo! UK site. I will also not harp on about never having entered any online lottery. Instead, I will give you some examples of the bad writing in that letter, underlined as before.
YAHOO and MICRO SOFT collects all the email addresses of the people that are active online, among the millions that subscribed to Yahoo and Hotmail and few from other e-mail providers.
The third and last example is of an email I received from firstname.lastname@example.org, which is a strange email address to use for a letter that claims to be from “The G-20 Group in relationship with HSBC London”. Be that as it may, once again the grammatical and stylistic errors were numerous. As a token example,
Below is the informatiom
Senders Name:max white
Money Refrence Number:9910-0013
Amount to be confirm:$5000
As an aside, I am curious why you chose to put the amount I have been awarded in US dollars if it originates from HSBC in London. Perhaps it was an innocent mistake. But even so, it brings me to my proposal.
Now, I guess that you don’t have a very good response rate to your emails. I think this is largely due to slips like USD instead of GBP and the fact that people expect those who work at large multinational organisations to write in a much more professional manner. (Whether they actually do is neither here nor there for our purposes.)
What is important is that your letters are perceived by most right-thinking people to be fakes because of their sloppy lay out and language, which got me thinking. Would you be open to forming a working relationship with me? I don’t have anything definite in mind but am open to discussing some sort of profit share with you: I edit and/or rewrite your letters and in return you give me a percentage of your earnings. I am, of course, negotiable as to the exact figures.
You see, I have exchanged righteous indignation for opportunistic pragmatism, which I find much more satisfying, not to mention profitable.
If you are interested, please contact me to discuss the details. And I am sure I don’t need to mention this, but please let’s keep this between us.
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