Of course we can get you a talking lion

Writers who took e-mail scammers for a ride tell some funny stories about con men and women who will promise anything for cash.

Posted by Teresa Mears Thursday, December 30, 2010 3:15:41 PM

We all get those ridiculous spam e-mails from Nigerian princes who need our help (and our cash) to claim lottery prizes and inheritances or from "friends" stranded overseas who need money.


We know we're better off just hitting "delete." But the temptation to play along and try to scam the scammers does strike at times.


David Pogue of The New York Times' Pogue's Posts recently shared a hilarious exchange between James Veitch, a London playwright and director, and a scammer who called herself "Alexandra K."


"Alexandra" supposedly was stranded in London after her purse, passport and credit cards were stolen and needed cash to pay her hotel bills and buy a ticket home. (This is a common scam, by the way, and if you get such a message from one of your Facebook friends, don't believe it.)


Wrote Veitch to Alexandra:

But how on earth did this happen? I had no idea you were even in London? And two GRAND on hotel bills? How on earth did you manage that? You could have stayed at mine for free! I'm working on getting you the cash.

We won't spoil the story, but we particularly like the part where he asks her how he was as a lover. They are, after all, old friends. You can read the entire exchange here.


Scottish author Neil Forsyth spent six months engaging with e-mail scam artists, going so far as to create a character, Bob Servant, and ended up writing two books about his experiences, "Delete This at Your Peril" and "Bob Servant, Hero of Dundee." The books even spawned a radio show.


Forsyth told the Daily Record in Scotland:

I started off by wondering just how far I could push these spammers before they lost it but I think they assumed that Bob had a mental illness and hung in there in the hope they'd get a fiver out of him at the end.
It was very much a case of starting off relatively sensible and then quite quickly the exchanges would become rooted in the absurd.

He asked one contact for a talking lion for his zoo in Dundee, and the contact assured him one was available, if he sent the money up front. Sending the money up front is a common theme. It's also a clear sign of a scam.


Back in 2008, Chris Hansen of NBC's "Dateline" did a report in which several scammers got taken for a ride.


We don't advise you to try this at home. Many of these scammers are part of hard-core rings of criminals. Others are looking for e-mail addresses for future scams. Just hit delete. But go ahead and laugh at these stories.


More from MSN Money:

Tags: bankingfinancial privacyfraudidentity theftTeresa Mears

Readers' Choice

Ratings table
RatingTop 5 Articles
View all Top-Rated articles