Poorly Written Scam Emails are Designed to Weed out the Wise


dearest one, I than good for sedning you to me and i pray this enrteprise will be to our mutual benfiot …

We’ve all got them: scam emails, 419 Nigerian frauds (although they come from other countries as well), phishing, advance fee fraud.

One of my Facebook friends recently shared an email he had received, remarking that, if it wasn’t so poorly written, maybe it would have a better chance of success?

As it turns out, incoherence and poor grammar are part of the strategy the scammers use to maximise the return on their “investment” in spam.

If you’re the type of person who notices poor writing skills, then the chances are you have enough education and worldly wisdom to spot a fraud.

You might also be the kind of person who decides to reply to a fraudulent email with the aim of turning the tables, pretending to play the game and wasting the scammer’s time.

You’re not the kind of person the scammers want to hear from. In fact the email is designed to get you to delete it and move on.

What kind of person would believe that a Nigerian prince was requesting his help to steal a fortune? Probably the same kind of person who would not notice grammatical errors.

According to the authors of Think Like a Freak, the latest book in the Freakonomics series, the scammers’ apparent lack of literacy acts as a kind of quality control in their business process: weeding out the wise, leaving a richer pool of fools.

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