The Sting

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If your junk email inbox is anything like mine, then like me, every week you too are forced to employ nothing short of heavy-duty earth-moving equipment to clear away the mountain of excrescence that has built up over the preceding seven days.

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You KNOW the type of ooze I’m referring to – emails from the ‘Healthy Hearing Institute’, the dodgy loan companies you’ve never heard of, the unnamed organizations offering everything from denture upgrades, military flashlights, home roofing deals and butt enhancement cream (ok, so I clicked on that one) to diabetic strips for cash, medical ‘cannabliss’, all manner of rubbish gift cards, as well as the stock standard bogus blood pressure alerts and naturally enough that old chestnut – weight loss products by the barrel full.

That’s nothing to say of the linguistically challenged red flags whose minimalist subject headings always read something like ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘Good morning’ or the most annoying of all ‘What’s Up?’ (but never with a capital ‘W’). There’s regular droppings from Casino4You, Bitcoin and Huggle Hoodie Offer as well as the ‘Private Message for You’ type. The so-called ‘Russian Beauties’ who claim to want to meet me are pretty persistent as well.

Most conniving of them all however is the offal whose subject heading begins ‘Re:’, giving the impression they’re responding to a message you sent them.  I bet they think they’re so clever and maybe they were a couple of years back when that type of deception first appeared but really… that guile is so 2015 the dimwits really ought to have come up with something new by now. (Other tricks in their arsenal – the ‘ol CONGRAULATIONS! subject heading as well as the emails asking you to confirm an order for something you know you’ve never made).

There’s absolutely no point as well in me requesting the person who calls themselves ‘Backdoor 66’ to cease sending me the crude invites. ‘Cause every time I click  ‘Unsubscribe’ you can bet the house what I’m actually doing – according to the twisted logic at work within the vast scamiverse – is precisely the reverse ie. confirming my renewed interest in continuing to receive this blather.

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I got to thinking – and after ploughing through that rogues gallery roll-call of unsolicited detritus listed above I’m quite sure you’d agree – a little bit of payback was long overdue.

The plan was simple. I would choose an email promising me riches beyond my wildest dreams, feign interest in what they had to say and in the process attempt to waste as much of their time as possible. The blueprint for my ‘scam the scammer’ little rouse was the video I’ve included below. It goes for close to 10 minutes but if you can stay with it it definitely delivers on laughs and the slightly snide warm inner glow that comes with comeuppance.

Yeah, love even just the sound of that word… comeuppance!

 

In truth, the internet is littered with stories and videos of people getting their own back against admittedly not-so-bright scam artists. As always the first question is “Where’s the game?, something I ask myself regularly.

In the end, a total of 26 emails across nine days were exchanged between myself and the flippy fraudster I chose to engage. This person claimed to be female (something I’m pretty certain wasn’t true). Gender then would provide me with the angle I needed.

As our conversations across the days unfolded, I cranked out my very best  ‘lonely hearts’ persona and managed to pretend to become totally besotted by this person. The aim was to gradually move our exchanges more and more away from the business side of things and more on to talk about ‘us’.

And I’m pleased to say, things worked out quite well in this regard. A lot of time and effort was outlayed by this swindling shark for zero reward.

It all started with this unsought email I received from a person calling themselves Catherine Bessant

Hello Dear Friend,

I am Ms. Catherine Bessant deputy to Mr. Willem Badenhorst the head of luggage/baggage storage facilities at the John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY USA.

In our last withheld-package routine check at the Airport Storage facility, we discovered an abandoned Metal Trunk Box prior to state confiscation, and decided to electronically scan it and ascertain its content.
When scanned, it revealed US Dollar, but due to the extreme security and seals of the metal trunk box, we could not ascertain the amount it inside, but I am sure it wouldn’t be less than 4 million dollars.

If you are interested I need your prompt response in order to update your information in the general waybill ledger, and we will take care of the United States Non Inspection Fee of 3,200.00 USD as well as arrange for the delivery and handover to you to you. If you can be fair enough, you will part with 40% of the money to us for our effort, while you take 60%.

However, to facilitate processing and delivery to you as the recipient, I want you to provide your complete names, Phone Number and delivery Address to affect the official documents. Also include the name of the nearest Airport around your city.

As a result of the sensitivity of this deal, we will not transact with our official email account or phone. So send your response through this my private email address or through the email address of Mr. Willem Badenhorst williebadenhorst15@yahoo.com as he will be communicating directly with you as my boss.

We can get everything concluded within 5 working days upon your acceptance of the terms with an immediate feedback.

You can always call me on Mr. Badenhorsts telephone number: +1 (917) 473 0062 or drop sms if he is not available to accept your call.

Respectfully;
Ms. Catherine Bessant.

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I responded the next day with a ‘hard of hearing’ old-school clarifyer –

Hi Catherine,

How much did you say was in the metal trunk?

Glen

What followed was an attempt at what’s known in the trickster trade as a ‘handover’ to another person (supposedly higher up the clown-infested pecking order).

Mr. Donaldson,

please contact my boss Mr. Willem Badenhorst or I will have him contact you.
Phone: +1 (917) 473 0062
Email. williebadenhorst15@yahoo.com

Mrs. Bessant

I declined the offer to deal with someone else and so commenced my plan to bit by bit romantically connect with ‘Catherine’

No Catherine.

I prefer to deal with the likes of you.

Glen

Feeling like the fish may just have climbed on to the end of the hook and my plan was beginning to gain steam,‘Catherine’ appeared fine with this and replied in this long-winded fashion –

Good Evening Dear Glen Donaldson,

I have shown your mails to my boss and your desire to be dealing directly with me. That is fine by me since my boss is also fine with it. 

Thank you for your response and understanding. As I stated in the first mail you received, I will commence negotiation with the airport vault authority for the release of the withheld luggage to you since we are on the same page now.

The starting point is getting approval to pay the US Non Inspection Charges of $3,200 on your behalf. Inability to make that payment initially was the main reason the consignment was withheld by the Airport authority.

If approval is given I will pay the fee, and negotiate for the release of the luggage to you, and as soon as I am able to clear the major release requirements, I shall make arrangement for final delivery to you.

You have to assure me once again that my own share of the money as agreed will be given to me as I undertake processing the release of the luggage on your behalf.

You know it is easy to make promises in the absence of tangible reality, so please I want you to respect my part of this effort, while I promise to do my best to pay all the needed fees, and work out a plan to ensure I am with the delivery department when hand over will be made to you. If not, I will have to depend on your sincere magnanimity and charity to get my part. But I will do anything I can to be with the courier department when it will be delivered to you or even be with you before the delivery is done. I hope you understand.

Once again to ensure the full protection of our persons since it is only you and I that know the content of the box so far, I would respectfully request for confidentiality. I want you to keep the contents of our communication confidential since I will be retiring soon and wouldn’t want to end up risking my pension and retirement benefits, or lose this opportunity. So I would strongly advise you to be discrete as ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’.

You should provide your contact address, phone number and nearest airport for processing to commence.

Yours Sincerely,
Ms, Catherine Bessant; for
Mr. Willem Badenhorst

Use of the adage ‘loose lips sink ships‘ was the first of many unintended crackups from ‘Catherine’. In turn I replied with some false details of my own –

Hi Catherine,

This is starting to get exciting!

My details are as follows –

23 Orchid Avenue

Surfers Paradise 4217

(07) 56 57 6888

I would prefer to transact through the Gold Coast Airport.

Glen

Ps. With you 100% on the ‘loose lips sink ships’ thing and therefore agree with the decision to go via plane.

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And that brings to an end Part 1 of THE STING.

Tune in next week for the continuing adventures of Catherine, myself and the mythical abandoned metal trunk containing the even more mythical unclaimed $4 million.

Ps.

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I haven’t seen it myself yet but from the first-hand reports I’ve been getting from people who have, Nicole Kidman‘s new undercover cop movie DESTROYER is next level hard-core, gritty and downright ghoulish.

Last time I remember something being given the title DESTROYER was rock group KISS‘s fourth studio album back in ’76. That turned out well for those guys so let’s see how critical reception lands for Nicole.

26 thoughts on “The Sting

  1. Oh Glen this is hilarious. You cheeky devil, you… can’t wait for the next instalment! I hadn’t actually realised that everyone else received the same onslaught of spam email that I did. Would you believe it???
    As always, love your writing style. Just so dry and amusing. I always find myself reading with a smile on my face.
    Thank you 😊

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Shannon.
      I definitely took delight in leading this scammer up the garden path.

      Part 2 next week and Part 3 the week after (this is the first three part blog post I’ve ever birthed) should reveal the true extent of the time-wasting tactics I brought to bear on the luckless and clueless ‘Catherine Bessant’.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I saw that video a dog’s age ago and loved it. I love that someone is using this guy’s tactics and making the world a better place. Go get “em! This is freaking awesome! Me? I just stopped using Yahoo since every account on the planet was compromised a while back. Haven’t had spam problems since. Phone scams, on the other hand… Oy. Anyway, looking forward to the next installment. I love this sort of thing.

    On this Destroyer movie… do you remember Remo Williams? That was (loosely) based on a series of books called The Destroyer. Hardly the same, but it’s the first thing that came to mind after the KISS album.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for the support Emily.
      The 1985 Guy Hamilton directed movie REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS was actually released down here in Australia under the title REMO: UNARMED AND DANGEROUS. I never saw it but I remember it.

      And get this for a scoop – apparently they’ve begun filming a remake of this movie which is going under the working title THE DESTROYER. The remake is being directed by Shane Black (writer and director of IRON MAN 3 (2013) who as an actor himself appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the doomed jungle commandos in the original PREDATOR (1987) – one of my all-time favourite 80’s action flicks.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Re your comments about DESTROYER – I have seen it and have seen it described as ‘hilarious’ – this is not ‘funny’ hilarious but ‘ridiculous unbelieveable’ hilarious. I’m still recovering from the ‘ridiculousness’ of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too, and the link below is to a book that documents one of the most ingenious stings used by undercover police to bring a criminal (infamous Australian child murderer Brett Peter Cowan) to justice I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading –

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I love this, but it fills me with anxiety reading about your dealings with missus Catherine. I can feel my stomach tensing up right now! I’ll make sure to down a few beers before I read the next two installments. I don’t know what it is, but it’s real. Real anxiety.

    And, man, I agree with Lady Emily about those phone scams. Do you guys ever get the man or woman leaving this message? Very loudly they say your name, “Stacey? STACEY?” Like when you hear them leaving it or play it back you’ll think, “Wait–is that my mom?” and snatch the phone up. A variation is “Hello? HELLO? STACEY?”
    Man, if they were actually really on there making those calls, I would yank the phone up and scream, “WHAT THE F*** DO YOU WANT? STOP F******G CALLING ME!!!!!”

    Yeah, immature, I know. But a little taste of their own medicine!

    Haven’t heard of the Nicole movie. Sounds good! I thought Sicario was pretty gritty and hardcore, and I liked it a lot. I love Benicio Del Toro anyway.
    And did anyone else notice what a really really really good actor Josh Brolin has become?

    I’ll save a little story about my husband’s *sort of* encounter with Josh’s father in the ”90s for another time.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I actually saw the sequel to SICARIO (2015) – SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO (2018) on a flight over to Korea in December of last year. ‘Gritty’ would definitely be an appopriate word to describe it.

    I’m ready whenever you are Stacey for that story about Josh Brolin’s father James (husband of Barbara Streisand) cause I used to be a massive fan. James Brolin (born in 1940 and who received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016) appeared in three movies that would all be in my all-time Top Twenty list – VON RYAN’S EXPRESS (1965) – FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1966) – and CAPRICORN ONE (1977). ‘Von Ryan’s’ and ‘Capricorn’ would both be in my all-time Top Ten list. He also was in a number of other movies I really, really liked – THE BOSTON STRANGLER (1968) – WESTWORLD (1973) and THE AMITTYVILLE HORROR (1979) to name a few. So yeah, big fan.

    As to the son, Josh, it’s amazing to think he got his start in the Steven Spielberg production THE GOONIES way back in 1985. For me his standout role will always be the one he played in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007).

    As to anxiety associated with antagonising known criminals (scammers) I think that they (the scummers… er sorry – better make that ‘scammers’)) probably concluded after the whole thing was over (at the end of nine days and after 27 emails had been exchanged back and forth) that they were just dealing with a lonely idiot and then promptly moved on to their next ‘mark’.

    There is a postscript however…
    This whole thing actually went down about four months ago. I’ve just gotten around to relating the story now. About 3 weeks ago, out of the blue, came another email from the same guys (and it wasn’t a generic one – it was personally addressed to me) enquiring about whether I was still interested in transacting with them and basically taking up where we left off. I killed it off very bluntly with a reply consisting of just two words – P_ _ OFF!

    I believe they understand my meaning this time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree about Josh’s role in No Country. He was really super good in that. I don’t recall really seeing his father in anything, so I can’t compare them. But do you think Josh has turned out to be a better actor than his dad?

      Okay, so what happened was in the ’90s my husband and his friends created and hosted a basketball competition. My husband rode all around L.A. on his bike stapling flyers describing the event on telephone poles and the like. Then one afternoon one of the messages on the machine at home was from Josh Brolin’s father complaining about the flyers and saying that we were destroying “the natural beauty of the Valley.”

      Which was ballsy of him, I think, since in my opinion, some paper that would disintegrate pretty quickly compared to the millions of cars spewing pollution and choking us with smog along with overpopulation and traffic jams and endless freeways and concrete jungles everywhere you looked–well, come ON, Mr. Brolin. Scapegoat much? I guess he felt like he was getting a little control back by calling the number on the flyer and berating us !!

      Speaking of berating–at least you got yours in with the scammers. I knew you would, obviously, but it was still good to hear. I don’t know how people happily ruin other people’s lives and sleep well at night. But they seem to do it very easily!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you Stacey for the personal story about James Brolin.

        Coming face to face with the egotisical, control-freak and super-opinionated side of actors, musicians or artists whom I admire in real life and that forever tainting my once perfect opinion of them and their talent has been a fear of mine for some years.

        Thankfully so far I’ve not had too many of those type of unfortunate brushes with fame. I can see why you wouldn’t go out of your way to hunt down any of James Brolin’s back catalogue after an encounter like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. It was more amusing than angering. He was never on my radar to begin with, so the phone call didn’t actually change anything for me, but I think my hubby had a different opinion! 🙂

    I don’t like my celebrity bubbles getting burst either, but if it’s not too, too bad, I just go on *loving* them anyway. After all, we’ll never REALLY know them, will we?

    My hubby has *grudges* against several celebrities, including Mr. Brolin, Steve Buscemi, Jennifer-Love Hewitt, and had his feelings slightly hurt by Henry Winkler. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. To have my feelings even slightly dented by the man who played Fonzie for 11 seasons would send me into a tailspin the likes of which would take me weeks to recover from.

    I’d be honoured if you’d consider sharing that story some time Stacey. And while you’re at it the Steve Buscemi one would be of interest too.Taken together are they perhaps even fodder for a future blog post from you?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I accept your challenge.
    For here. Another time.
    They’re not that interesting, actually, just involving STARING at the celebs and their less-than-friendly reaction. Definitely not enough for a blog post!
    But the Fonzie one…yeah. That’s basically what happened to my hubby: took him many hours if not days to recover.

    I shall return….soon….to plump up the non-tales with a few more descriptors……….. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Like everyone, I’m loving this saga Glen. I used to love getting to know the phone scammers. I’d keep them on the phone for 30 minutes or so asking them about their family, saying if I am going to do business with them, I need to get to know them. The kids loved it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I got duped in almost the same identical way only it was la international airport. The name was almost identical too. I’m afraid to put it on here in case he sees it. So far I havent received the money. It was confiscated and sent to England. They verified it and I had to pay a large fee to get it returned. They are to send
    a atm card that can be used anywhere. If this turns out to be a scam as it sounds like can the scammer be made pay my money back and also pay the contents of the supposed package as a penalty for scamming.

    Liked by 1 person

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