One of my pet theories is that things that don’t work don’t last. I am reassessing it. Some things that should not work seem to.
My test case is the email offer of vast wealth with some legal or other twist, always from obscure sources and with just a small upfront cost to me. I am sure we have all seen the request from a deposed dictator to help him move money for a share of the proceeds. Usually millions of course. Just a small fee to handle the wire transfer. Until lately I had no idea how common they were because my SPAM filters were removing them from my notice.
So I checked the SPAM. Over the past 60 days, I have 52 offers of riches in exchange for help of one kind of another. A few were just outright gifts because someone won a lottery or felt I deserved money. That generosity is outside my experience, but judging by the four offers, it must be more common than I thought.
What is surprising is that these email solicitations must work. Someone sends these people money. If they did not, no one would pursue the solicitation. I am unable to understand why they work, but perhaps the something for nothing lust is strong in us.
I assume it is a business, so while wearing my consultant hat, I would suggest some changes to their method.
- Grammar matters and especially so does spelling. No law firm, no bank, even the United Nations, The World Bank, the Federal Reserve and the IMF would use English badly. (All represented in my survey)
- Avoid representing a bank, law firm or trust in Nigeria. No one believes Nigerian stories. Seven of those.
- Named firms, Bank of America, Standard Life, The FBI, Bank of International Settlements, and so on. They have letterhead, return addresses and phone numbers and they publish them. Missing them is a tip off. Another eight.
- Accountants mistrust round numbers. No estate share is $5,000,000 exactly.
- Wordy titles for the sender.
- Duplicates close together in time, especially ones with different sender names. Very weak.
- Learn the lying indicators. Too much precision is disturbing. That means you Richard Patrick OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, INTERNATIONAL CREDIT SETTLEMENT, CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA. That my ATM card for US$2,850,000 arrived at your desk at 3:37 pm is off putting.
- All caps. No one thinks an email is a telegram
- Inconsistent return email. If you represent the Bank of America don’t you think return email would be @BOA.com instead of some obscure Yahoo address.
- Weak subject lines. Of the 52 I received, there were only 2 that I could not tell what they were before I looked at them
If you are someone who is legitimate and in the business of sending money to strangers, there is one absolute guaranteed way to get both my attention and my action.
Send a bank draft for the US$12,500,000 you are holding for me. One of them mentioned that sum. If you call the number below, I will give you my snail mail address. I know it will take much longer to go this route than would a wire transfer, but I am willing to wait. Once the draft clears, I will be happy to send you a release, a thank you and reimburse you for any reasonable costs you may have incurred. Alternatively, you may deduct the cost of the stamps and phone call from the $12,500,000.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
Please be in touch if I can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org 866-285-7772