I Guess I Should Never Taunt Spammers

Several days ago I was making fun of spammers for their implausible "Dear Friend: Please send money to my Swiss/Nigerian bank account" messages.

Well, the message below is no more plausible in its literary construction. But someone has instead applied energy and mastery of detail to hacking into my wife's Gmail account. If you get the note below from my wife, it's [obviously] a fake. Apologies to all being deluged by this; thanks for people calling with concern.

I mention this "in public" in lieu of writing everyone I know. More on the Larger Meaning therein after I finish the ongoing blitz of changing every password we have for every possible account and trying to restore my wife's control over her mail.

>>From: Deb Fallows
Date: Wed, Apr 13, 2011 at 9:27 PM
Subject: Problem

I know this might come as a suprise to you,but I made a quick trip to Madrid in Spain and was mugged.My bag,valuables,credit cards and passport all gone.The  embassy has cooperated by issuing a temporary passport.I need funds to settle outstanding hotel bills,ticket and other expenses.
To be honest,i don't have money with me at the moment. I've made contact with my bank but the best they could do was to send me a new card in the mail which will take 2-4 working days to arrive here from DC. I need you to lend me some Money to sort my self out of this predicament, i will pay back once i get this over with because i need to make a last minute flight.
Western Union or MoneyGram is the fastest option to wire funds to me. Let me know if you need my details(Full names/location) to effect a transfer. You can reach me via hotel's desk phone and  the number is, +34 981 600916867.

Meanwhile, if you would like to assist me in recovering $55 million in gold bullion from the Central Bank of Gabon, please wire me your account numbers immediately.

UPDATE: You can have some fun if you write back to the [phony] email address the phisher has inserted into the "Reply To" box: DebbFallows@gmail.com   A live person is at that account now, giving details of the tragic mugging in Madrid and the desperate need to have money wired there immediately.

UPDATE ^2: That phony account, above, now generates "Account has been disabled" messages if you send messages to it. In a tiny way I'm sad -- I was having a great correspondence, under an alias, with "Debb Fallows," in "Madrid" (aka Lagos, Hangzhou, Moscow, or wherever). "Jim is here with me and we need help," was one memorable reply. Alas, the interchange has cruelly been cut off.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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