Of course, my friends immediately recognized the scam. So did I, and I was pissed. I sat down and wrote an angry letter to the hacker with the reasons why his/her letter was such a failure. I didn't have a clue who the hacker was or how to reach that person, but decided to post it on my blog just for the heck of it.
Cartoon By Ron Leishman
I hope you enjoyed your trip to Turkey -- it's really a beautiful country – and made it home without further incident. I imagine by now you realize the significant mistakes you made hacking into an author's address book.
First, writers generally have other writers' e-mail addresses, and writers are not necessarily the best paid people on the Internet. The most you could expect to get from a writer is about five bucks, if that. [Plus, a writer's reaction might be to welcome the reduced competition and opportunity to leave another writer-friend stranded in a foreign country. You never know.] Unfortunately, you failed to indicate where to send the money and how to get in touch with you, which is sure to get you nothing.
Second, you need better language skills if you're going to convince writers that one of their own is in need. Most of my writer friends knew at once the verbatim e-mail, reprinted word for word and punctuation mistake for mistake, below, was a fraud.
“I am so sorry to bring this to your notice, I and my family came down to Turkey on a short vacation, On getting
there we were seriously mugged at a gun point with bruises all over our heads. All cash and credit card and cell
phones were stolen away away from us. Right now we have no means of getting back home. Our return flight
leaves soon, we're having financial problems sorting our hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave
until we sort the bills. We need your help with some money i will surely refund it back to you.”
Third, your letter isn’t written in critical panic mode. If I were stranded somewhere without money, and had the opportunity to e-mail someone for help, I wouldn’t waste my time on this kind of a communication. Plus, I’ve traveled enough to know you should never keep all your money and credit cards in one place and to always carry copies of your important documents.
WHY YOUR LETTER MISSED THE MARK
You, my dear hacker, really need to improve your writing and punctuation skills in English. If you intend to continue your career as an extortionist, I suggest you invest in a good grammar/spell check program and some English classes.
Further, it's unlikely I would bring something "to your notice". To your "attention" perhaps, but even that sounds rather affected in terms of colloquial English.
"I and my family"?
I don't think so. I would say "My family and I" and, also, I wouldn’t "come down to Turkey" since I would be traveling from California. In case you can’t read a map, Turkey is to the east of California – although I concede one can get from California to Turkey by going west also. Americans have a tendency to describe the direction of a geographic location based on where they live or start a trip.
Okay for prose, not for letters to friends or dialogue. Even the turns of phrase "Upon arriving" or "Upon our arrival" are somewhat formal. I'd use "When we got there …” Also note that if you are writing the message in Turkey, and you are stranded, you would be talking about "here", not "there"?
I imagine all muggings are serious, particularly to the mugee. Please describe to me what an un-serious mugging would be like.
"With bruises all over our heads."?
This description evokes a lot of questions. Did you have bruises all over your heads to start with? Bruises on heads might be hard to see unless the hair is cut very short. If the mugger held you and your family at gun point, did he bash everyone on their heads with something else or with the gun? If he bashed one of you with the gun, then the rest of the victims couldn’t have been at gun point at the same time. Did this mugger act alone?
"Stolen away away"?
The phrase “stolen away” is not common usage in my part of the US. "Stolen away away from us", even less common unless the speaker is stuttering. Can one stutter in writing?
You should leave spaces (at least one) between sentences and end them with proper punctuation. Commas in the right places are nice too. And don’t forget to capitalize “I”. This was an e-mail, not a text message.
“Right now we have no means of getting back home.”
Here your English is fine, but your logic is lacking. If your flight was leaving soon, then you most likely had tickets. Ergo, you had a means of getting home. Based on the rest of your letter, what you lacked was the means to pay the hotel bill.
I'm sure the hotel manager would not allow patrons leave until they "paid" the bills. It's not much of a problem to sort them, but the hotel wants the money.
Finally, I might "repay" the loan, but I wouldn't even think of saying I'd "refund" it (although, technically, that may not be incorrect). I mean, everyone is a little sloppy in e-mails, and we all make mistakes, but come on!
I was gratified when my friends all greeted me with, "I'm glad to see you're back from Turkey. LOL!" I'm not sure what other people in my address book thought, since many of them are professional contacts and don't know me from Adam. It's a cinch they wouldn't send money to bail out a complete stranger.
I hope you had a nice vacation, and better luck next time.
Alas, my sarcasm was wasted, since I had no place to send the e-mail, but I felt better. I'm climbing off my soap box now and won't bother my readers with this again. I promise!