Suddenly My Financial Problems Are Over

From the inbox -- actually, my wife's email inbox. Fortunately we live in a community-property state.

From: <>
Date: Sun, Feb 24, 2013 at 10:38 AM
Subject: MGH
To: Dxxx

The Microsoft is glad to pronounce you as the lucky winner of Eight crores Thirty Four lahks and Thirty Two Thousand INR,send us the following details for claims.

Full Address:
Full Name:
Telephone Number:

Thank you.
Dave Robinson.

To be precise, we live in a taxation-without-representation District rather than a state of any sort, and here the marital-property principle is called "equitable distribution" rather than community property. Either way, I'm looking forward to my share of the loot, knowing that one crore is equal to ten million rupees, which in turn is worth about $200,000. 

Bonus background point: Why would anyone bother sending out something this pidgin-implausible? Quora offers some hypotheses, starting with:
  •     To filter out smart users who would immediately recognize the scam, thus ensuring that only the most gullible users respond.
  •     To read in a way that an American with money might imagine a Nigerian would write (for the multimillion dollar transfer scams)
  •     To get past spam filters
  •     To fool the victim into believing the scammer is not very sophisticated and can be tricked by the victim


Bonus-bonus background. I've learned that I need to spell out, even in cases seemingly so blatant, that in fact I am not taking this at face value and am being "sarcastic." When I was living in China, I learned to make things hyper-explicit because often they were being read by people whose command of English kept them from picking up what I thought were obvious signals. Now the challenge is right-wing trolls, of which more another time.
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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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