Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Half Empty: Answering E-mail spam

They say that when you hit your 40s, your life is half over. We prefer to think of it as HALF EMPTY. Our age has finally caught up with our outlook on life. Remember, it is possible to turn that frown upside down...but you might pull a muscle.


By Rick Kaempfer & Dave Stern

You are probably inundated with as much e-mail spam as we are, but you either just delete it, ignore it, or report it as spam to your internet provider.

We used to do that. Now we answer them.

Dave gets a particular delight in responding to alleged African businessmen scammers. (20/20 did a story about them a few weeks ago).

To one scammer who claimed Dave would be receiving $18.5 million for foreign investment, Dave responded with a joke. Instead of ignoring Dave, the scammer responded back. Here are the e-mails that followed in order…(I redacted his last name, but I left all of the grammar and spelling mistakes)

Scammer response:

“Dear Stern,
I got your mail and before I say anything, I would like to correct the impression you already have. I am not joking with my proposal to you, I mean real and genuine transaction and that is why I contacted you for assistance. I appreciate your response.

I am entrusting you with confidence based on trust that you will not let me down. all machineries has been perfected, ok, to ensure a risk-free transaction. Arrangement has been ascertained to safely transfer the fund to your nominated account. I am counting upon you and having the interest of both families at heart for our upbringings. My late father's struggle before demised has been to commercialize investment abroad with a trusted capable foreigner. I hope this opportunity must not be jeopardized because of my career, future of my family lays in your hands.

Truth, honesty and sincerity must be our watch word. all related documents will be sent to you after our discussions and for further details of arrangements. I look forward to speaking with you today. Also, forward your contact phone/fax numbers the name and address of your bank where we can transfer the US$18.5Million to, the account, name/beneficiary, the account number etc.

As soon as I receive the above information, I would apply on
your behalf to the bank where this fund is for the fund to be moved to your account using the above requested information and depending on the level of co-operation we are able to get from you, this transaction will take a maximum of 10 days to be concluded.

Best regards.

Dave, of course, answered him.

“I will be arriving on the 22nd November on flight 9002 from Frankfurt. I will be staying the 22, 23, 24 and 25 at the Protea Hotel, Victoria Island.

I will be free the evening of the 23rd, all of the 24th and morning of the 25th. Mr. Brusky and my lawyer are already in country and will be meeting with you as well.

Please let me know which day is best for you.

Best Regards.
David Stern”

Godwin responded:





Dave responded:

“Just give us the certified cashiers check when we see you this week. We will cut you a commission check the same day.”

Godwin responded:

“Attention David
When every documents is obtain and forward to bank, you will demand for cashier check, as a matter of fact, if you really want to do this business with me kindly let me, because this is not a childs play, let me know your position.
Looking forward to hear from you.
Thanks for your co-opration
Mr Godwin”

Dave responded:

“We will meet with you on Monday the 27th at 6:00 PM at our hotel, Protea Hotel, Victoria Island. Let me know what we need to bring.”

Godwin responded:

“Attention David

I have told you that, this is not a childs play, if you want to handle this business with me kindly send your telephone number to me for oral discussion, first before anything could be done.

Dave responded:

“First off, the phrase is "child's play" not "a child's play". Little Red Riding Hood is "a child's play". Your insinuation of my apathy toward your business proposition is "child's play". Got it?

Second, I should be given the respect I deserve for extending my trip 4 extra days to accommodate a face to face business meeting with you. Sadly, the tone you are using is far from indicative of such respect.

Since I am in a giving mood due to our Thanksgiving holiday I can be reached at 234 1 461 0236 x 310.

David Brusky (United States Foreign Affairs Bureau),Johnny Cochrane (my lawyer) and myself will be dining at the Baywatch Restaurant 35, Ojo Olobun Close, Victoria Island, Lagos, This Friday and Saturday evening. Come on by and we'll talk about your proposal. I hear the veal is excellent.”

Godwin responded:

“Attention David
Sorry for the delay, I went for a meeting in london and will be back 2weeks time, i do not know if you will be around till i come back from the trip.
You can reach on my telephone 44-703-190-XXXX Or 44-707-190-XXXX
Thanks for your co-opration
Mr Godwin”

Dave responded:

“Greetings Godwin,

We have arrived in London! We are staying at the
Stafford Hotel
6 Waterloo Place
London SW1Y 4AN United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 7629 7688

We are registered under the name URA DUMBASS. Let's meet this evening at our hotel bar. I will assume 8:00 PM will be OK. If I don't hear from you I'll assume you'll be there.”

And that’s the last Dave heard from Godwin.

No need to thank Dave. His thanks comes from knowing that while Godwin was running around trying to figure out what was going on, he was unable to scam other Americans out of their bank account information.

It’s a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

If you missed any previous Half Empty columns, click here:

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Suburban Man: Ode to a handshake

By Rick Kaempfer

As I get older, I’m getting less and less comfortable in social situations. It’s not the small talk that gets to me, it’s the greetings.

Germans have one standard greeting that works in all situations. It’s called a handshake. It’s nothing fancy. I extend my right hand, you extend your right hand, we clasp them together, and done. Greeting complete. It’s short, it’s firm, and it never deviates.

In the German community this traditional greeting is acceptable between strangers, acquaintances, friends, distant relatives, close relatives, and even handless people (a stump shake is perfectly normal.)

Outside the German community, there are all sorts of different handshakes going around that I can’t fathom. If your handshake involves chest tapping, finger snapping, or fist thumping, I don’t get it.

My old Ebony & Ivory co-host Stan Lawrence tried to teach me the cool handshake for years. Each time I tried it, I was thinking to myself… “a traditional handshake would be so much better.”

When I see a hand being extended in a non-traditional way, I panic. “Is this going to involve a snap, a tap, or a thump? Why isn’t this person extending his hand in a normal way? Countdown to humiliation…5, 4, 3, 2, 1.”

But that’s just one of the things that makes me panic at greeting time. Another greeting sure to bring out my discomfort is the hug. I’ve gotten past hugging family members. I hug my kids a thousand times a day. I hug my sisters-in-law and their kids without feeling weird. But I still don’t hug my mother, my sister or my brother…and I’m guessing, as fellow Germans, they appreciate that.

If you come to hug me, and you’re not a child or a family member on my wife’s side of the family, don’t look in my eyes. You may misinterpret the sheer horror in my eyes as dislike. It’s not that I don’t like you…it’s just that there is a better way of doing this that doesn’t involve quite so much uncomfortable body touching.*

This is the proper greeting at all times: You extend a hand, I extend a hand, we clasp our hands together firmly, and release.

And dear God, by all means, never kiss me. If I see your lips heading toward my face, my whole world starts moving in slow motion, and this is what is going through my mind.

“Oh no, here it comes. What is she (or God forbid—he) thinking? How did my unfriendly body language fail to head this off? If I extend my hand now, it’s rude. If I extend my cheek now, it’s lame. If I kiss back, it’s…well, that’s not going to happen. There is nothing I can do to stop it. Better brace yourself, weirdo. Here it is. Find the strength for the fake smile…dear God its in there somewhere…dig, dig, dig. Bring out the fake smile before it’s too late.”


Is there any chance the traditional handshake will come back in style?

I don’t have the proper training for this.

*I'd love to hear how they translate the HBO show Entourage in German. One thing you will never hear a German say: "Let's hug it out, bitch."