Friday, March 5, 2010

English as a Second Language

I received the following e-mail the other day. The header is heavily edited for obvious reasons, but the body of the letter is word-for-word:

From: Bert Mckinnon: AssholeWithTooMuchTime@OnHis.Hands
To: NotMyEmailAddress@ButIGotItAnyway.Dammit
Subject: Hello
Attachments: (Brunette.jpg) – the sort of photo that comes in a new wallet
How your mood? I very much would like to know you better... I would like to write to you a little about myself... To me of 28 years. I the brunette, very cheerful and beautiful woman... If you wanted me the nobility better can write only to my personal Email.
I hope you to me will write about myself.

Aside from the obvious (this person is tragically in love with ellipses) I’m guessing English is not the native language of the sender. And I have to wonder at the point of such a letter.

How lonely and desperate do you have to be for “If you wanted me the nobility better…” to sweep you off your feet?

And “Bert McKinnon”? What sort of name is that for an Internet temptress? I don’t know about you, but Bert screams “I’m a man” in my world, unless you are a Roberta. But anyone out for a cyber-snog with the name of Roberta McKinnon would do well to adopt a more appropriate nom de plume, such a Sally Cyberslut or Julie I-want-To-Send-You-Naked-Photos-Of-Myself-To-Gain-Your-Trust-So-I-Can-Empty-Your-Bank-Account Smith.

At least she didn’t mention the size of my penis (how do they know?) like many of the mystery women who write to me do. You know, things like “Make your man-tree hard grow so women laughing at you will stop.” I made that up, but it isn’t far off of the mark.

Unfortunately, these are the types of communications that make up the bulk of my e-mail these days. I can’t complain; it’s my own fault.

A few years ago I naïvely thought I could defeat spammers by changing my e-mail address on a regular basis. So I changed my spam-ridden e-mail address to a new one and told all my friends. Many switched to the new address. Some did not. The spammers used both. Not one to give up on a bad idea, I tried this about five times before I admitted defeat. By then I had thoroughly confused my friends and provided a huge target for the spambots.

My supposed saviour, Yahoo Spam Filter, didn’t help. There is a button you can click to notify Yahoo that the letter is spam and the filter will “learn” what is and is not spam and filter out all the bad stuff. In my experience, all the button does is alert the spammers as to where I am because whenever I undertake a campaign to eradicate spam, I generally end up with ten times more.

Worse yet, the Yahoo Spam Filter also sends all my blog comments, which are specifically tagged to go into my IN box, into my spam folder. So I currently enjoy the irony of having to go to my spam folder because, if there is any mail for me, that’s where I’ll find it.

So I am reading a lot of letters from Bert and his buddies these days. It’s a bit of a nuisance, but on the bright side it is often a revelation to discover the extraordinary and starling ways desperate third-worlders with an internet connection and a penchant for larceny can torture the English language in their attempts to woo the gullible and, one has to suppose, functionally illiterate into revealing their bank details in exchange for virtual titillation.

So until Bert and his ilk discover they can make more money robbing liquor stores, or I become wealthy enough to develop my own, effective spam filter (or at least have enough money to hire people to read my mail for me) I’m afraid finding relevant communications will continue to be a scavenger hunt through spam hell.

But those days may be over sooner than you think: I just received a notification from The National Lottery Board informing me that I have won $87,674,287.37 in the National Lottery. I can’t wait until they deposit the money in my bank account!


  1. I do sympathise. It's arguably even worse being bombarded with promises to increase the size of bits I don't even possess. But Googlemail's Spam filter works pretty well and doesn't often divert stuff I actually want to read. Enjoy spending your loot!!

    Ha ha - my Word Verification is 'Mings'...seems appropriate!

  2. That National Lottery wasn't from Nairobi, was it? The 'nobility' there often need help with their fortunes!

  3. Anonymous1:28 AM

    The spam filter is very good, although this week it (perhaps correctly) considered as spam a very official notice from the EU rejecting some funding that I had applied for. But I always filter through the spam mailboxes to make sure that things are working correctly. And I do still get a number of these sorts of messages that go in either direction. I guess this is the price we pay for the convenience in communication that we have in the internet age.

  4. Jenny: It must be strange, as a woman, to get so many e-mails enticing you to enlarge your man-bits ;) They are doing this for profit, and they wouldn't keep doing it unless someone was answering, so they must target men as the more gullible and narcissist of the species: "vanity they name is woman" indeed ;)

    (Oh, and to anyone reading this: if you are answering these e-mails, stop it! Stop it right now!!)

    Linda: A lot of the e-mails are from African nations, but the Lottery ones come from all over the place. I rarely check to see where. I just look at the amount. If ti isn't over 50 million, I can't be bothered to open it ;)

    NFAH: I don't know that I could use a third party spam filter as I have Yahoo mail. I expect their filter must must work at least some of th time or I would be getting thousands of errant e-mails instead of only hundreds.

  5. HA! I just sent the above comment and returned to my IN box to find a message from "Suzie Wife" advertising "Discreet Housewives looking to date -- Meet a cheating wife --Date lonely cheating wives" I've never seen that one before so they get the originality prize for the day.

    Really, you can't buy that sort of entertainment.

  6. Hi Mike

    Try this product

    I have used it for the past 4 or 5 years now and I swearr by it. Even with multiple e-mail addresses I have a virtually spam free existance. Perhaps 1 or 2 a day get through. OK there is a small annual subscription fee but its worth it.

    It works on the bais of every time you download e-mails they ar all compared to a central data base of known spam messages. Those that meet the criterea are automtically moved to a holding file for you to reveiw if you wish or do as I do dump them with a 2nd thought. You can of course add your own filters to personnaly declare an item genuine.

    The data base is continually updated by the subscribers. If you get a spam that has not been filtered then click the "block" button and its si whished offto e-mail hell. When enough subscribers have decalred it spam its deletion becomes automatic for the rest ofthe community.

  7. Oh dear having just read my spelling and sentance construction mistakes. I assure you English is my first language and I do not have a night time hobby of compiling spam for desperate foriegners keen to rip off the likes of you and me. Have become over reliant on MS Word spelling and grammer checker!!

  8. Yes, that chappie from somewhere in Africa promising me millions is starting to sound a little suspicious.

  9. Hi Mike

    Leons' suggestion is good - personally I use Mailwasher pro - I find it better on 2 counts 1) the spam is filtered and I rarely see any of it as it really does learn and filter it out - I can add filters to say that certain mail is always acceptable, either a particular name or with a certain entry in the subject line and, 2) I can see the email and preview it before it even gets to my computer - I therefore read it first and only download to my computer a sparse few i may wish to keep. This also has the advantage to keeping any trojan email and other such nasties at arms length and in no position to infect my computer. Take a look at it, I find it well worth using.


  10. Expat: What! They are mailing you, too? They said that money was for ME!

    Leon and Steve: Thanks for the info, but I don't download my mail, it is all on Yahoo and they filter it for me (with help of tweaks from me). I don't believe I could use a third party e-mail filter.

  11. Oh, and Steve, say "Hi!" and "Thanks!" to Paula for me. I read her e-mail and deleted it thinking it was a comment and I would reply here. I get so few actual e-mails to me, personally, I didn't know what to do with it ;)

  12. Great post, really made my morning!

  13. Thanks, Rhea! Glad to see another expat enjoying living in the UK.