Friday, July 22, 2016

Marooned in Istanbul

I received the following email this morning, with the gripping title of 'Travel issues'. Was it a promotion for a handy pack of paper hankies, with 'tissues' spelt wrong by some harrassed PR assistant typing away for all he's worth whilst grabbing a coffee, updating his social media status and peering goofily around the edge of his cubicle in the way so accurately portrayed by advertisments?1 Nope, the body contains the following heart-rending story that had me mesmerised for all of 0.0000 of a second (because the apparent sender, a friend, showed a "mailto" address with someone else's name, an obvious give-away that it is a scam). Anyway it makes quite enjoyable reading for those of us who like taking the piss out of scammers.

Am sorry for not informing anyone about my trip,I had to be in Istanbul (Turkey) for a visitation but everything turned bad for me.I had my bag stolen from me with my passport and personal effects therein,I lost all my valuables including cash,mobile phones,business documents and my traveling documents,Thank God i still have my life,I have been issued a temporary passport by the embassy.Now am having problem paying up my hotel bills and I also have to pay for a return ticket back home.I need your help/LOAN financially and I promise to make the refund once I get back home,you are my last resort and hope,Please let me know if I can count on you and I need you to keep checking your email because it's the only way I can reach you.

Trust this gets to you

Your assistance in resolving this would be much appreciated

Regards ----------------------------

This is supposed to be someone I know. But it was sent to 'undisclosed recipients'. He thinks that I don't know where Istanbul is. He thinks that it would be normal practice to tell me about his trips. I am trying hard to be impressed with the use of the somewhat archaic 'visitation', a word that has gone the same way as 'luncheon' and 'charabanc'. He seems unable to use full stops or spaces correctly. He sets this out as a formal letter, complete with salutation, but twice drops his personal pronoun. He tells me the embassy is helping but apparently not so far as to settle his hotel bill or provide emergency assistance to return home. I don't know why the word 'loan' is so important that it requires capitalisation, and why, if he is writing to loads of people (the mysterious undisclosed recipients) am I his 'last resort'? And why, if he is being helped by the embassy, is he denied the use of a phone, given that claim that email is the only way he can reach me?

Oh, and that lovely sign-off. I have no idea what to make of 'Trust this gets to you' because if I am reading it then obviously it has. This is followed by the "much appreciated" throwaway line. This must be lifted from 'The Young Person's Guide to Business Letters' (published 1960, price 1/6 from all good bookstalls) or something similar. It's not that it's bad English (it isn't), it's the way it clashes so strongly with the tone of the rest of the email. From the breathless appeal for help ('last resort') to the cold and formal 'Your assistance'. What a shame the sender is not French or he would be begging me to accept his distinguished sentiments.

Anyway I composed a suitable reply, informing whoever is on the other end that I have loads of cash and can't wait to send it to them. Yet, despite the desperation that is supposed to exude from the email, they have not bothered to reply. Are they so swamped by people offering aid that they are having trouble keeping up? Or are they so brainless that they have screwed up their own hack of my friend's email and have routed all the replies somewhere beyond their reach? My money is on the latter.

1.I get all my knowledge of modern day business practices from adverts, as you may have gathered.

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