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  Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"

Ten Gazillion Dollars!

by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
The internet has been around for a long time now. I mean, not very long if you are comparing it to a tree or a rock or a star, but in the time frame of computer technology the internet has been around for a long, long time. As it has evolved, so too have evolved internet based or supported crimes. There is phishing, a crime of which I hope that you are all aware, and though a simple and often easily discerned deception, it is one that hooks tens of thousand of trusting people every year. Phishing is when you are sent an e-mail purportedly from PayPal, or your bank, mortgage or credit card company asking you to confirm your identity for security purposes. If you do fall into the trap, they will have successfully robbed you of all your most important information. Diabolical and yet very, very simple. They ask, you tell, and thatís all she wrote.

The scam I like the best though is a more basic one and it is so incredibly stupid that I do not imagine that very many people at all are fooled by it. You get a letter that goes something like this:

"Most excellent and adorable business associate,
My name is Sir Alfred Lord Hobnob Billyclub Artichoke the third, son of worldís best renowned diplomatical attacher of legal liability matters of the United Conglomerate of Eastern Unions. My father died leaving a huge steamer trunk with your estimable identifiers emblazoned upon said trunk and the expert instructionization to of you notify the ownership of. The steamer trunk. Which it is of filled by millions of great british pounds and jewels and very most valuable types of wills and codicils which requirements of your most immediate discrimination."

Now, I donít like to think that someone somewhere is trying to pull one over on me, or that I am a potential victim of identity theft or any other crime. I donít like the idea of that at all. But I do like these letters! They are so hilarious that I cannot resist them! I mean, I can resist them, and do, but I love to read them! In fact one time, I even responded to one. I wrote:

"Salutations and felicitations most esteemed correspondent,
It was with great interest that I read your letter and I stand here today humbled by the trust your late and most wise and excellent father showed in me and the great family name of mine and my ancestors. I will do what ever is in my power to be of facilitating of the large number of funds available to me upon the close of our consumationating of businesses. Would it be helpful to you if I were to provide you with my bank account numbers, social security number, phone number, all passwords, and the three number code to the lock on my diary? I have also a sum of money available to your most respectablishious self which might be of your assistance. I will be entirely able to put this monies at the disposable and availability of you and also I have power of attorney over all the lands and holdings of my aged female parent and will wire that funds as well to you at your nearest request."

Okay. Maybe I shouldnít have done it. My husband didnít think I should have done it. Probably the Bad Guy that sent me the missive originally didnít think it was funny either. But I couldnít stop laughing for days! I would be okay for a little while and then the thought of the letter would pop into my mind and there I would go again. In fact, reproducing it here for you has made me giggle about it all over again. I could just imagine some low rent criminal in some far away country getting my email. "Ludwig! My most estimated business fellowship! We has got one, finally and only at last! We has hooked us a sucker! The Idiot Sucker is for offering us all that we ask and more and seems of an unredermindering type of honest business affections to us! Oh Ludwig! Our fortunes is done at last and soon we will be of the Great White Way Las Vegas dancing with the most renowndable hotties and the loving of us! Ludwig, we bit the big one this time!"

Hereís my advice: never, never respond to any email you receive which causes you any doubt at all. I donít really know what some brilliant computer hacker might be able to get from you just because you responded. Block the address when you get a letter like that. Tell your computer that it is spam. But you have to admit, it is funny to think about trying to turn the tables a little!


© Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" July 3, 2008 Column
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