Maybe it’s a family member supposedly stranded in Nigeria who needs you to send them money, a random person in Topeka who wants to send you a $1 million USD inheritance, or a dire warning that your Apple ID has been compromised (even though you’ve used Apple nothing your entire life).
We’ve all had more than our fair share of email scams, and they keep getting more ridiculous by the millisecond. The latest case in point appears below.
Just when you thought scam emails couldn’t get any more ludicrous, an urgent email from “Wilford Bennett” showed up in my junk email folder. I regularly review my junk mail because, alas, some non-junky mail does end up in there while other obvious crap still streams into my inbox.
In any event, I neither recall the subject line of this bizarre email nor what prompted me to actually open and read it. But here comes the verbatim text below:
Scam Email Text
Note: I left misspellings and other faux pas as is to further highlight the email’s (non)credibility.
From: Wilford Bennett, email@example.com
rynski, you don’t know me and you’re thinking why you received this e mail, right?
Well, I actually placed a malware on the porn website and guess what, you visited this web site to have fun (you know what I mean). While you were watching the video, your web browser acted as a RDP (Remote Desktop) and a keylogger which provided me access to your display screen and webcam. Right after that, my software gathered all your contacts from your Messenger, Facebook account, and email account.
What exactly did I do?
I made a split-screen video. First part recorded the video you were viewing (you’ve got a fine taste haha), and next part recorded your webcam (Yep! It’s you doing nasty things!).
What should you do?
Well, I believe, $1200 is a fair price for our little secret. You’ll make the payment via Bitcoin to the below address (if you don’t know this, search “how to buy bitcoin” in Google).
BTC Address: 18AVxMK2KHimbrTJVEeUYM3LxLfD9RoR3o
(It is cAsE sensitive, so copy and paste it)
You have 24 hours in order to make the payment. (I have an unique pixel within this email message, and right now I know that you have read this email). If I don’t get the payment, I will send your video to all of your contacts including relatives, coworkers, and so forth. Nonetheless, if I do get paid (after payment, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org), I will erase the video immidiately. If you want evidence, reply with “Yes!” and I will send your video recording to your 5 friends. This is a non-negotiable offer, so don’t waste my time and yours by replying to this email.
Why I Knew It Was a Scam
While some email scams may be savvy enough for folks to ALMOST fall for them, this one was a loser from the get-go for several reasons:
I don’t visit porn sites. Heck, I’m the type that even gets annoyed when I’m searing for photos to use from royalty-free, free stock photo sites and inevitably photos with “adult content” show up during the most innocuous searches.
No one in my household would use my computer to visit porn sites. The dogs have their own computer and, besides, their porn consumption has decreased dramatically ever since both have been neutered.
If my webcam did record anything I did, it would show me boringly sitting at my computer typing.
The ransom is way too low. C’mon, if “Wilford Bennett” did indeed have embarrassing video footage of a person as outlined, you’d think the person would pay more than $1,200 to stop it from hitting the masses, no?
The Bottom Line
Even if email scams are obviously not getting more sophisticated, they are indeed getting more amusing. A round of applause for “Wilford Bennett” for creating the most amusingly ridiculous one yet.
This is an open letter to Local First Arizona after 19 of the Arizona businesses that attended the Fall Fest each ended up with $290 parking tickets after parking in a dirt lot as instructed by Local First AZ.
The violation? Parking on Non-Dust-Free Lot or Area.
Talk about having a teed-off, 117-mile ride back to Phoenix that evening!
Please Note: The headings were not part of the letter sent, but added to make it easier to read.
Here Comes the Letter
I am one of the 19 Local First Arizona vendors who received a $290 parking ticket from the City of Phoenix after parking in the lot at 1102 N. Third Street as specifically instructed by Local First representatives. As you know, this ticket was issued on Nov. 4, 2017, to a number of vendors attending the Arizona Fall Festival.
The ticket was accompanied by a note from your organization instructing me NOT to pay the ticket and to instead request a hearing.
Since the note stated that Local First AZ would help us businesses fight the ticket, I am confident your organization will indeed provide assistance since this fiasco is in no way the fault of the vendors who were following your precise parking instructions.
Double Woe for Tucsonans
Because I run my writing and art business out of my Tucson home and making the 4-hour round-trip drive to Phoenix would result in loss of full day’s loss of wages, the assistance I require includes:
Requesting a court hearing on my behalf
Showing up for the hearing on my behalf as a representative as I cannot sacrifice yet another day to drive to Phoenix and back
Successfully fighting the ticket at the hearing, explaining how Local First AZ is responsible for the parking violation since the group instructor vendors to park in the aforementioned lot
Payment of the $290 fine by Local First AZ if the hearing is not successful on behalf of the vendors
Triple Woe for One-Woman Show
I am a small, single-person operation. Attending the fair required a lot of time, effort, energy, resources and money. While the overall experience was satisfactory, that satisfaction was quickly annihilated upon finding a $290 ticket jammed beneath my windshield wiper after the event.
While Local First AZ is an organization aimed at helping local Arizona businesses, this parking ticket fiasco hurts them dearly. I do hope your organization steps forward to correct the problem on behalf of the handful of local businesses that were merely following your instructions.
All the Blah Blah Enclosures
Attached please find a copy of my vehicle registration and the parking ticket. I am NOT mailing back a request for a hearing, as the ticket indicates this action should be taken ONLY by registered vehicle owners who can show up in court (or risk a default judgement being taken against them).
For Local First to request a court hearing on behalf of the registered owner of the vehicle, the ticket says to:
Call 602-262-6785, press 3, then 2
Please confirm you’ve received this letter and that the actions outlined are part of the Local First strategy for helping the businesses to which you’ve promised assistance.
UPDATE: The Almanac responded to my letter on Aug. 9, 2017. Here’s what they had to say:
Dear Mr. Gargulinski,
We apologize for the inconvenience. You were on a continuity program. We have cancelled the billing and removed you from the program. You may keep the Almanac with our compliments.
Kaye Dunn Almanac Products, EMail Customer Service
Moral of the story: Don’t let the big guys push you around.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I used to adore the Old Farmer’s Almanac until I met with unscrupulous actions like those outlined below. This letter was emailed to the company Aug. 5, 2017 (without the Scam Alert Bug illustration).
Dear Old Farmer’s Almanac:
Thank you! for the free gift you sent my way. After all, I am assuming the hardcover2018 Old Farmer’s Almanac you sent is a free gift since:
I did NOT ORDER IT.
I do not want it.
I am not paying for it.
I have not the time, energy or desire to deal with sending it back.
Since this is a free gift, please adjust my account balance to zero and credit out the invoice for $20.90 that accompanied my free gift. I refuse to pay an invoice for an item I did not order. I also refuse to waste my time, effort and packing tape to send it back.
Unsolicited items = free gifts.
If you do wish for me to send back the unsolicited item I neither want nor need, I would have to bill you for my services and supplies:
Return shipping rate: $7
Handling charges: $11
Time to pack item and ensure it is placed in location for outgoing mail: $25
My general hourly rate for services is $50; I would expect this hassle to take about 30 minutes, provided the packing tape dispenser doesn’t jam.
What you owe me to return item: $43
The choice is yours. You can either:
Wipe out the invoice and charge for the item you sent my way WITHOUT my order or consent
Mail me a check for $43 and I’ll send back your book
Any action on your part other than the two options listed above will result in a report to the Better Business Bureau.
And please don’t give me a song and dance about being on an “automatic mailing list” that gets the almanac sent every year. You tried that one on me a few years back, and I called one of your reps to be removed from this unscrupulous list.