Ars Gratia Artis: The Playful, Growing Aesthetic of the 419 Scam

I’ve written several times before about the fascinating literary genre (if one wants to call it that) of the 419 scam email. There’s something marvelously creative in some iterations of this particular criminal act that it’s hard not to appreciate. How can I fail to be amused by a scam email from Captain America? How can it not tickle the fancy to notice the apparent mergers and competitions among variants of the scam?

Today’s email, hot from the Junk Mail folder, is a new one on me: the merging of the 419 scam and the “hot chick from [somewhere outside of the US or Western Europe] who wants to talk to you, baby” spam.

Here it is (sent from one address, requesting a reply to another) in all of its spammy, criminal glory:


Hi My Dear Friend ….

Hi my dear friend, How are you? i hope you are fine, and I know that
this message will come to you as a surprise. I hoped that you will not
expose or betray this trust and confident that I am about to repose on
you, My name is Miss Hassan Amira. I am 19 years old Girl, female,
from Tartu Syria, I am 4.55 meters tall, (never married) 61 kg, white
in complexion, and I am currently living in the refugee camp here in
Abidjan Ivory Coast, under the United Nation High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR ) as a result of the civil conflict war fought in my
country, Syria.
My late beloved father Hassan Mohammed was a renowned businessman and
owner of Al-Baroudi petrol station in Syria; he was killed in a
stampede riot in Tartu, Syria.
When I got the news about my parents. I fled to a near by country
Jordan before I joined a ferry to Africa and came to Abidjan capital
city Ivory Coast West Africa find safety here.
I came in 2013 to Abidjan and I now live in refugee camps here as
refugees are allowed freely to enter here without, My late father
deposited (US$ Us$6.400,000.00m Six Millon Four Hundred Thousand Us
Dollars) My late father kept the money at the bank of Africa, I want
you to help me transfer the money to your hand so that you will help
me bring me into your country for my continue education.

I sent my pictures here for you to see. Who I am seriously looking for
a good-person in my life, so I want to hear from you soon and learn
more about you, because I have many things to say, when you are reply,
they I will explain it to you.

I am an open-minded and friendly girl to share a good time with you
and have fun and enjoy on the go, bird watching, the rest of our
lives. My Hobbies, tourism books, dance, music, soccer, tennis,
swimming and cinema. I would just think about you, including your dose
and doesn’t .I believe we will do well together, and live like one
family.

I beg you to consider my situation and help me to actualize my future
dream. As soon as you confirm your acceptance to assist me with the
transfer of the money into your account, then I will send you my
contact details in case of you want to discuss something with me on
phone.In the light of the above, I shall appreciate an urgent message
indicating your ability and willingness of helping me sincerely Thank
you and God bless you, for you in your promise to help me here,
looking forward to your reply by the grace of God and have a good day.
I hope you send me your photos as well? I await your next reply in
faith please reply through my private email at
[redacted, so no fool will use it]:
Thanks


This is fascinating. It’s like someone cut up the pieces of a few different criminal solicitations into a mosaic of beautiful, horrid con-artistry. I’m not sure if it’s as perfect as it could be — this particular mix could be improved by tidying up the language a little. Obviously the con artists here have a market to manage, and they’ve clearly tried to think this through — they’ve piled sex on top of pity on top of greed in order to maximize their potential field of suckers. It is almost elegant, and even if it never results in enough “hits” to make a cent for its creators, it still stands as a clever bit of commentary on the very suckers it solicits (although that bit may be unintentional).

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About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. Otherwise, I labor to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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