Saturday, 24th May 2008
Like most people in the Media, I get letters from weirdoes, creeps, and assorted low life… as well as the occasional fan letter.
Unfortunately, e-mail makes it cheaper (and easier) for people to pick up their equivalent of a poison pen to send me missives – perhaps because a part of my job description is that “I am not there to be liked”. Promises of untold wealth if I pledge to perjure myself and swear I am a next of kin of some deposed dictator in a God-forsaken South American county; perfect health if I subscribe to a miracle cure for every sickness known (and others unknown) to Man; a tract of land in an unnamed country in Central Africa for a pittance – I have been promised all these, and more.
This week, however, my mailbox was assaulted by this communiqué, which I did not proof-read or edit on purpose:
“SOMEONE YOU CALL YOUR FRIEND, WANTS YOU DEAD. I felt very sorry and bad for you, that your life is going to end like this if you don’t comply, i was paid to eliminate you and I have to do it within10 days.
“Someone you call your friend wants you dead by all means, and the person havespent a lot of money on this, the person also came to us and told us that he wants you dead and he provided us your names, photograph and other necessary information we needed about you. If you are in doubt with this I will send you your name and where you are residing in my next mail.
“Meanwhile, I have sent my boys to track you down and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation, but I ordered them to stop for a while and not to strike immediately because I just felt something goodand sympathetic about you. I decided to contact you first and know why somebody will want you dead by all means.
“Right now my men are monitoring you, their eyesare on you, and even the place you think is safer for you to hide might not be. Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? It is up to you.
“Get back to me now if you areready to enter deal with me, I mean life trade, who knows, and I might just spear your life, $12,000 is all you need to spend. You will first of all pay $4,000 then I will send the tape of the person that want you dead to you and when the tape gets to you, you will pay the remaining $8,000. If you are not ready for my help, then I will have no choice but to carry on the assignment after all I have already being paid before now.
“Warning: Do not think of contacting the police or even tell anyone because Iwill extend it to any member of your family since you are aware that somebodywant you dead, and the person knows some members of your family as well. For your own good I will advise you not to go out once is 7pm until I make out time to see you and give you the tape of my discussion with the person who want you dead then you can use it to take any legal action. Good luck as I await your reply to this e-mail contact: email@example.com Mr.Anthonio Benito.”
Now this person, who did not even bother to run his missive through a spell-check before he sent it, has put me in a quandary.
When he says he wants to “spear” my life, is it a typo, or will he just run me through with an assegai? How is he so sure that I do have the amount of money he needs to save my life – which, in fact, I do not? Is it not worrying that he inserts the words “who knows” as to whether he would in fact halt my execution?
How could he be sure that I would not rather be dead, anyway? Why is he convinced I would want to know who the person who wants me dead, is? As far as I know, people who want others dead tend to be more astute than trying to work with someone who would be so stupid as to send me an e-mail about it.
This is chain-letter writing gone plumb crazy, and a mite too late for an April Fool joke. What makes it worrying (not!) is that at the same time I was safeguarding my life, I would have been able to avail myself of the offer in the following letter, left unedited too:
“To Whom It May Concern: I am very sorry for the inconvenience this mail might cause you, I am George Kofi the son of late chief Fredrick Kofi, my late father who happened to be one of the prominent chiefs from Ashanti Kingdom in Ghana, have large quantities of 22 CARAT OF GOLD DUST/ BARS in stock, which was part of his monthly wages as a chieftaincy titled man of Ashanti the Gold Mine home in Ghana West Africa.
“We are currently looking for serious buyers or people who can assist us to sell or ship the gold dust/bars to any country abroad. My offer is not only competitive but also extremely moderate. Should you be interested, please contact me for full corporate offer by email. Sincerely, George Kofi. … ”
Or this other one, which rather than seeking to prey on my avarice, assumes that I have a “nice side” and wants to appeal to that:
“YOUR SISTER IN THE LORD JESUSPLEASE ENDEAVOUR TO USE IT ON CHURCHES AND ORPHANAGES FROM MRS ROSEMARY BROWN OF NETHERLANDS Dearest one in the Lord My name is Rosemary Brown(Mrs).
“Naturally, this letter might come to you as a surprise, since we have not met before.it is by the grace of God that this took ocurred,knowing the truth and the truth shall set me free. Having known the truth, i had no choice than to do what is lawful and rightful in the sight of god for eternal life and in the sight of man for witness of God’s mercy and glory upon my life.
“I have the pleasure to share my life briefly history with you and also prayed over it, God revealed to me that you are genuine hearted and can do this work. I am the above named person from netherlands. I am married to Dr.William Brown who worked with netherlands embassy in London for nine years before his death on march 2003.we were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.Before his death, we were both born again christians.
“When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of Eighteen million, five hundred thousand us dollars ($18.5) with UNITY TRUST BANK LONDON PLC. Altogether, i have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in the U.A.E, London and Ireland. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself any more.
“Presently, this money is still with the above mentioned bank in london. And the management just wrote me as the wife of the depositor to come forward to receive the money or rather issue a letter of authorisation to somebody to receive it on my behalf since i cannot come over there due to my illness. Again, i’m with my laptop in a hospital where i have been undergoing treatment for cancer which had indicated to my doctor that i would not last for the next four months according to his statement. [More of the same] Please i don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health and the presence of my husband’s relatives around me always. I don’t want them to know about this development.
“Any delay in your reply will give me room in searching for a church or christian individual for this same purpose. Please kindly contact me for arrangements regarding this transaction and assure me that you will act accordingly as i stated herein and you can not betray me once you receive this money into your account. I want you and the church to always pray for me. Please for more details contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks and may God Almighty Guide and Bless you upon helping me with this project Amen Hoping to hear from you soonest. Yours sister in the lord, Mrs Rosemary Brown.”
Do people really fall for this kind of twaddle?