Sunday, April 01, 2012


I was recently contacted by someone named Terry James who inquired about having me edit an article of his for pay. I don't normally do this kind of thing, but I have considered it in the past as a source of side-money, and as luck would have it I'm in a brief lull between projects at the moment. So I figured, what the hell. The hell was, Terry turned out to be a check scam artist. Luckily I figured this out before I got burned and, deciding to have fun with the situation, I sent Terry what I thought was an appropriate response. What follows is our entire exchange.

Him: Hello,

            How are you doing today and am Terry James.I want to know if you will be available for rewriting and editing job,the document is attach to the mail and I will wait for your quote.Hope to read from you soonest.

Kind regards,

Attached was a file labeled "English.doc" which contained seven pages of broken English. Here's a sample sentence: "Addiction is a chronic brain disease often recurs, despite harmful consequences for thepeople around himself and has fallen into the addiction, the drug asked for it is they cannot become."

Me: Hi Terry, 

I'm not sure what kind of budget you were looking at, but this does require some pretty extensive editing work. If you tell me your price range I can tell you if I would be right for you or not.

Take care,
-Brian M.

Him: Hello,

             Thanks for your swift response and am very happy to read from you,i want it rewrite and edited also I will pay $250.

The document is base on drug so we want to use to it to create more awareness on drug for those who abuse it and the article will be read by teenagers.

I want it back in 20 days however the payment will be through Check so send me your name and address with phone number where the payment will be mail to and i got your detail at a writer website,hope to hear read from you soon.

I wish you a pleasant day.

Me: Terry,

That sounds reasonable to me, and I can have it in the time you're asking. I have a fairly good understanding of what you need but if it's alright with you I might ask you a question or two during the process in case I need some clarification as to what you're going for.

As far as payment I would prefer to use PayPal. I can supply you with my account if you're able to pay that way, but if you need to pay by check I would respectfully ask for a money order/bank check/etc. I certainly don't want to cause any problems with this, I've just found it to be better for everyone involved and so it makes everyone happier.

Let me know if you want me to go ahead. I look forward to hearing back from you.

-Brian M.

Him: Thanks for your mail and i can work with money order so send me your name and address with phone number,awaits your mail soonest.

Me: Sounds good to me, here's my info: (REMOVED)

Him: Morning,
                Thanks for your mail and how is your day going? Some people request for Editing to be done and run away with your money,i do have a personal editor but right now she is sick that is why am looking for a competent and trustworthy editor.I have gave a job to a editor and paid him advance and he did run away with my money and i don't want to be a victim anymore but am ready to give you a chance which i will pay you upfront because there are many jobs we are going to do together.This is a charity which help less privilege kid around there world also the money is needed for Republic of Vanuatu relief,I hope you understand me.

(Note: Here's where the bomb drops.)

However,my sponsor notify me that the check has mail out and there was a mistake with the amount on the check which is $2000 so what i want you to do know is get it cashed and you will send the difference back to us after you have deduct your money so you will send it to us through western union,you are saving a million lives and may God almighty bless you as you do so.Awaits your mail soon.

I wish you a pleasant weekend


A classic check scam. Spoiler alert: the money order is a counterfeit, which I wouldn't learn until after cashing the check and wiring him the cash. The bank would come calling for their money back, and I would be forced to pay them out of pocket, unable to retrieve what I'd already wired.

And so, brushing the dust off my shoulders, I wrote Terry the following reply.

Dear Terry,

There's something fishy going on here, and I think I've figured it out. All this time I've been trying to figure out what you are based on the style of speech in both your emails as well as the file you sent me for editing. Your address says you reside in Anchorage, Alaska, however your English says otherwise. Your last email, though, gave me the final clues I needed to figure it out, and I can finally say with confidence what you really are.

A real-life Nigerian prince! Terry, why didn't you just say so? All this time I've been speaking with a member of royalty and never knew it. I know you mentioned the Republic of Vanuatu, but I recognize a prince when I see one. You don't have to be modest with me. I hear about you folks all the time at my day job but I never thought I would have the wonderful privilege of directly speaking with one. Well, regardless of the outcome of the job you've offered me, thank you so much for the honor of communicating with someone of your stature, even if being a prince in the extant kingdoms of Africa is mostly nothing more than a genealogical assertion of a legal claim to a throne regardless of how remote the possibility of ascending to it is. (Source:

In our previous emails you were eager to learn my address, and I take that, as I believe I should, as a genuine interest in my personal life. There's not much to say, really, except that I'm happily married, have a deep love for animals, especially dogs, and am admittedly a bit of a film buff. Well I suppose I could tell you what the day job is that I previously mentioned. I work at a bank, one of the larger ones. While it isn't my dream job (writing is, as your research turned up), it does offer some other advantages. For instance one would be education on all things financial, including some of the more unsavory aspects such as identity theft and e-mail scams. These are a part of life, sadly, but then again scum has been walking the Earth since long before you or I had our turn on it, and these things are only modern variations on old tricks. Instead of being pessimistic about the whole thing I prefer to keep a positive attitude, knowing that people are genuinely good and it's a small percentage of the population that gives the rest a bad name. It's easy to think that all people are bad when you hear so much of this sort of thing, but in reality it's only because crimes are what get the news coverage, never the acts of kindness both small and large that decent people show each other every, single day. Obviously I don't need to tell you that, being someone involved with a charity that benefits children.

Well I'm going off on a rant here. I have to apologize for that, Terry. I suppose it's just I feel we already have a strong connection. I trust you, as I hope you trust me.


P.S., Sorry for the small delay in responding to your email, there was a small matter to attend to first with the FTC. Take care, and I look forward to receiving your totally real check.

(FTC is the Federal Trade Commission, who I reported him to before sending the email) 


.steve said...

i love what English.doc sounds like. can you send me a copy?!

Brian Martinez said...


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