Fraudsters, be ashamed of your lousy prose
The world's fraudsters are suffering from crippling writers' block.
They sit in grimy internet cafés around the globe, biting their nails, not daring to touch the keyboard, all inspiration gone.
How do I know? Most people just delete these "I need help getting £100m out of a secret bank account" emails without a second thought - which is of course the best thing to do. But recently some have been catching my eye - mainly because they are so shockingly bad.
The global scamming fraternity has reached rock bottom - or else they're convinced the greedy will be taken in by pretty much anything. Either way, the scam emails dropping into my inbox are now so poor that I've taken to saving the worst of them.
So here's my extremely non-scientific run down of the top five lamest scam mails I've received in the last few weeks.
5. At number five, we have one that fell at the first hurdle, not even making it all the way through the subject line before screwing up.
"Goog Day" was the heading. And it didn't get any better after that. I almost felt sorry for them.
4. At four is a lottery scam trying to bolster its claims with a bit of high-tech nonsense: "This is a millennium scientific computer game in which email addresses were used. It is a promotional program aimed at encouraging Internet users."
Encourage them to do what, I wonder.
This one claims to be backed by "industrialists from the internet hardware industry". Although if that was the case you'd have thought they could have afforded to use something a little more grand than a Hotmail account to send out the good news.
3. Number three claimed to come from "London, Zealand", and impressed me by simultaneously being out to rip people off - "I am looking for a representative" - while being extremely paranoid about being ripped off too.
In an almost 'Dear Deirdre' confession the scammer says: "The problem I have is trust." And then gets a bit more menacing.
"I have made arrangement with the FBI in Washington, that if anybody gets away with my money they will definitely get hold with the person, and the person will go to JAIL for LOOTING my funds."
Probably not the best way to entice people into going into business with you. There are clearly some very bitter fraudsters out there.
2. This scam email has a worrying lack of geographical awareness - where the writer has decided to squeeze three continents into one.
"Due to the increase in demand of our products in America, Canada, Asia, Middle East and Europe we have decided to move our products fully into the above continent," he says confidently.
Perhaps this geographical naivety is the result of the scammer being from a different part of the space/time continuum, as the sign-off mysteriously suggests: "Please also let us know the best time to reach you on phone especially as we have a different time."
1. The winner scores highly for a number of reasons - one being that, with scant regard for email etiquette, the writer shouts all the time.
"HELLO...I'M TREVOR", he starts, and then goes on to tell of the millions left in the bank by a women killed in a car crash.
"WE ARE REALLY VERY HAPPY THAT THE KIDS WERE NOT DEAD AND ARE STILL IN THE HOSPITAL HERE," he cheerfully points out.
And should anyone want to take up his offer of taking on the money (and the kids) they will also benefit from a super-duper exchange rate.
Apparently the poor lady left around £1.7m in the bank, and Mr Davis bellows: "WHEN THE MONEY WILL BE CONVERTED TO DOLLARS WE DISCOVER THE MONEY IS ABOUT $300m... AND THAT IS A REALLY LOTS OF MONEY."
Indeed it is Trevor. That's about $175 for every pound. Try getting that down at Thomas Cooke.
It's probably way too optimistic to see this as the death throes of the 419 scam - and more a reflection of massive oversupply - but we can live in hope. And, perhaps, if people get to laugh at the worst of the lot they may be less willing to believe the more accomplished versions.