Here’s How To Handle Those Fake Trouble Emails

“Please help,” they say. “We’re in a foreign country and misfortune has befallen us.”

You have no idea who the sender is but the tone of their letter makes it sound like you’re their last chance at salvation. “We have no money and can’t leave the country unless you wire us several thousand dollars.”

Well, anyone who falls for such an obvious scam in this day and age of highly savvy and intelligent internet citizens (*cough* *choke* trying-to-keep-a-straight-face) deserves to lose their money. I imagine the point of these emails is to try and harvest financial account information from some sucker, and of course one logs on every minute.

A classic version came across my transom today, and rather than just delete it, I thought I’d go ahead and craft a reply just in case it was a legitimate plea from a good friend and I just wasn’t remembering that we’d ever met. It went a little something like this:

“This message is coming to you with great depression due to my state of discomfort. I came down here to Phnom Penh, Cambodia with my family for a short vacation but unfortunately, we were mugged and robbed at the park of the hotel where we stayed. All cash, credit cards and cell phones were stolen off us but  luckily for us we still have our lives and passports.

We’ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and our flight  leaves in less than 12hrs from now but we are having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills about $1,980. Can you help us out? Get back to me immediately to let you know the easiest way to get the fund to us.

We are depressed at the moment.


Woman behind bars

“Only your cash wired via Western Union can save me!”


Hi Roberta. Cambodia, huh? Interesting choice for a family vacation. You did see Apocalypse Now, right? Those guys were pretty depressed too.

Sorry to hear about your misfortune at the hands of robbers in a nice city park. I guess if any comfort can be taken, it’s in the fact that they got your cash and credit cards but left your heads and appendages attached to your bodies. Had you been on your vacation there during the reign of terror conducted by the Khmer Rouge, I might have received a necklace of ears rather than an email.

I can imagine your “state of discomfort” must really be putting a crimp in your family vacation plans. Poor kid. You probably didn’t even get to visit any of Pol Pot’s killing fields before you were stripped of your credit cards and American dollars that spend so easily in the robust tourist economy of Phnom Penh.

And the hotel owner won’t let you leave until you pay your $1980.00 bill? Well, can you blame him? Seeing as a double room in three-star facility like the Diamond Hotel goes for $33 a night, I imagine you and your family must have really been living it up for quite a while there.

Have you been drinking hundred-year old French wine from hand-carved jade goblets while watching nonstop Cinemax movies as a military-trained dominatrix/masseuse works you over like a tackling dummy?

Have you been über-generous with your tips and bribes, from the guy at the newsstand who sold you a USA Today to the kid at the McDonalds who doubled the meat in your Sausage McMuffin? (By the way, it probably wasn’t sausage.)

Please don’t misunderstand my tone, Roberta, I’m just trying to understand how you could run up nearly two thousand dollars in charges at a borderline third-world hotel. I see you are still able to send out anonymous spam emails, so apparently they didn’t get your computer. Maybe you could sell that, hmm?

And your plane leaves in 12 hours? Oh, my. I’m sure all flights are right on schedule at an international airport that looks like an abandoned bread factory.

My advice to you, dear friend, is to let your body hair grow for a few days, slather on the eyeliner and find a black beret. Exit the hotel while smoking a cigarette, insouciantly dragging your baggage behind. If the manager tries to stop you, stare him down and blow smoke in his face.

Then, in your best Pepé LePew accent, say, “Out of my way, bourgeois land-monger. We occupied you once. We can occupy you again.”

And for your next family vacation, dear, you might consider the friendly, wide-open spaces of Utah.

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