ZELLA COMPTON: Dear custumer, wee whant axess yur acount
So you've worked out the best way ever to run a scam.
It involves e-mailing a wide list, setting up a replica website and several cunning methods for holding and using credit card details, or passwords. I’m guessing this is how its done, I’m not actually sure.
Once the groundwork is laid, you need to hook people into your plans, get them to send you what you need, or log into where you need them to be.
You carefully craft an e-mail, full of standard persuasive techniques, the rhetorical questions, a smattering of (awful) alliteration, the power of three reasons in a list etc.
And there it is, your criminal empire is ready to be built after you’ve hacked into a massive list of e-mail addresses and got ready to send your missive.
To my mind, this must take a fair amount of organisation, thought and confidence.
So why is it, that time after time, I receive e-mails from reliable-sounding e-mail addresses, complete with official and recognisable logos, only to be immediately awoken to the fact it’s a scam by the spelling?
Seriously, who in their right mind would believe that an e-mail from PayPal would start like this: Dear custumer. That’s surely step one on the ladder of suspicions quickly followed by the master sentence ‘we regularty check the worck of the screen Paypal’.
And then the third clue, in this crazy puzzle, which is genius in its audacity. ‘We have requested information from you for the following reason: access to your account.’ My understanding of this is ‘apperciate’d.
Well, thank goodness for that. I love that the crooks have stated what they want, it’s almost a double bluff.
They could have said something airy-fairy, like testing fire walls, but they’ve gone straight for that punch with access to the account. And why would a robber tell me they were trying to rob me?
Who knew when we spent hour after hour learning our spellings at school that our English teachers were actually fore-arming us with a powerful arsenal of weapons. Spelling, punctuation and grammar all have a specific place in cyber-security.
It must be hugely frustrating for these people. All that work put in for time after time, to get nothing back.
I see the same in dodgy e-mails from HMRC telling me I have overpaid ‘taxis’.
Aha, I’ll give you my bank details then so you can plonk a black cab into my local tax office. There’s certainly an opportunity there for an ex-teacher, or a spellchecking software genius to make a fortune with a few criminal classes.
THE POUND IN YOUR POCKET... IS GOING OUT OF FASHION
It’s time to get spending the last few pound coins we’ve got lying around in pockets, little pots and down the back of the sofas.
When pound coins were first introduced I loathed them. The weight, the inconvenience of carry, the fact that I didn’t have notes any more – which I’d loved.
Notes made me feel rich as I had a stack of them, even if the overall value didn’t add up to much.
But, after spending time in America recently, fumbling with squashed dollar bills, I’ve come to realise quite how much I like our pound coins, and how much I particularly like the new versions, especially given that one in 30 of the old ones were seemingly fakes.
VLAD THE PALER AFTER BURGER PROVES FAKE
There’s been an international scandal. This time it’s about a restaurant in New York seemingly creating a massive burger to celebrate Vladimir Putin’s birthday.
It was pictured and reported all over Russian news that the restaurant owners admired him so much, he was the only world leader honoured in this way.
Unfortunately for Putin, it’s all turned out to be yet more fake news, with no knowledge of the burger from the restaurant, and complete denial of supporting Putin.
What is it that compels these acts? Whether by design by the individual, or their fawning supporters.
When you have to manufacture adoration, you have to know there is something seriously awry. And sadly for the rest of us who live on earth, Putin’s isn’t the only camp making burgers.