Did a time warp just happen? I feel like I’m back in 1985
I got a letter in the mailbox.
A real letter.
In a nice envelope, and with a real stamp that somebody had stuck on the corner…
It was from a wonderfully nice man offering me my share of 5.2 million Euros, if I would just be kind enough to answer.
My question is : who uses snail mail these days for this scam?
I’m surprised that somebody is so old-fashioned.
Although, I suppose there’s some logic to it: It worked well enough 30 years ago, before they moved to email, so there may still be some elderly people who would fall for it.
Maybe I should even respect the scammer, for working harder than all his buddies at the internet cafe in Lagos. After all, he invested his own money up front for the paper and stamps. They say that these days, Millenial kids don’t even know what stamps are.
(Actually, it wasn’t a Nigerian prince. It was from a “law firm” in Spain,with a nice logo on their stationery. And the stamp was in Spanish, too, postmarked by the Spanish Post Office.And the English was less-than fluent, but not quite in the Nigerian way.
They informed me that they had a will from my aunt Frieda who just died and left me 5 million Euros, from which they will deduct 10% to donate to charity, and a 20% “finder’s fee” (yes, that’s what they called it). They also misspelled my last name in a weird way, but in a way that could be pronounced similarly to my real name.)
Huh - that’s nuthin’. My brother got sent one of those (back in the days of letters) informing him of MY death. I was surprised myself, to learn of my death, when he rang me up to tell me about it (and, to give him his due, to ask how I was feeling). Plus, I had never realized how rich I was. Damn - that was one we really should have acted on.
It does make me wonder. The whole reason the scam flourished with email is that emailing a whole lot of people is so low cost, almost free. That way you can cast a big net and maybe get a few fishes.
To do it by real mail is so much more expensive that I wonder why the scammer believes it to be worth it. It the cost offset by the people they scam? Is it necessary to stand out in the crowd? Has mass mailing become a lot cheaper? Heck, could they be forging stamps, making that cheaper?
I first started seeing tons of them in the late 80’s/early 90’s when every office had a fax machine. We’d get multiple spam faxes a day, a few of them being 419 scams. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I finally realized I could make our fax line an outgoing line only. We send out a few faxes here and there but no one legitimate sends us faxes anymore. No reason to waste all the toner and paper.
Customers will leave those pamphlets either hidden around the store or directly hand them to the cashier. The cashiers will throw them in a drawer under the register. From time to time I’ll ask why they don’t just throw them out and the response I nearly always get is a look of slight nervousness and ‘umm well, ahh’ to which I’ll say ‘do you want me to throw them out? It doesn’t bother me.’ I don’t know if they’re more worried about the customer or god finding out.
That it was spelled (at least somewhat) phonetically makes me think that at some point in the chain between chappachula giving someone their name/address and it ending up on an envelope, there was speech-to-text involved.
I’ll suggest that the reason for this is that they’re targeting the elderly, and the elderly love getting snail mail since there’s so little of it these days, and they don’t use email much, if at all.*
*I send out tax return information requests via email to whatever we have on file, and a couple times I’ve gotten phone calls back to relay the information. Today all someone knew is that I sent them an email earlier in the day, not what any of the content was. So even some people with email that they check at least somewhat regularly don’t really interact with it.
My wife got a handwritten letter a week or two ago from some local rando. Judging by the shaky handwriting they must have been elderly. It had some bible verse and a pamphlet enclosed about how to raise your kids. (Youngest just turned 40 this week, so it’s probably a little late for that.) I just skimmed it at first, and when I went back later to read it again in more detail, I found out she’d already tossed it in the trash. Obviously just some churchy busybody but it did make me wonder how they got my wife’s name and address.