While I’ve made fun of spammers and scammers a number of times it has always been impersonal. I never knew who these spammers were and didn’t have any direct contact to them…until now.
Last week I was contacted by a lady under the name of Linda Hicks, offering me money to place a text advert on the blog. I must admit that, although I pride myself on being immune to any and all scams because I’m awesome, my initial reaction was to send an email indicating interest and requesting further details.
It was only after I’d sent the email that I conducted a thorough investigation through my extensive network of undercover spies and government agents. OK, OK, I Googled her, same difference!
Initiating worldwide scanning protocol…
Turns out Linda Hicks is a scammer, promising people annual payments that she never delivers. I have also verified this story with a fellow Twitter user who apparently got scammed.
Somewhere between realising she was a scammer and not thinking things through I decided to try and mess with her head. I have found out that she shares her name with a singer, who by the way is completely uninvolved in this whole story. Using this fact and my powers of making up stupid nonsense on the fly I launched into an email exchange with Linda.
I was afraid she wouldn’t respond to the increasingly far fetched and nonsensical emails I kept sending her, but to my absolute joy – she did! And soon her “standard” responses have become more and more affected by the gibberish I was writing.
What follows below is the correspondence in its entirety. I have deleted some links and the name of Linda’s company. I’m not sure whether she’s using an unaffiliated legitimate firm as her cover and I don’t want them to get a bad name if that’s the case. Everything else in the correspondence is completely unaltered.
I’m inserting all of the correspondence (12 emails total) to provide full disclosure and build the background for the story. It even includes my initial (and in hindsight naive) response. The madness doesn’t start until email number 4, so you may want to skip right ahead to that one. Also, Linda doesn’t start shaping her responses to my nonsense until email number 7.
I hope that by wasting at least a bit of her time and exposing her here I’ve given Linda some food for thought. If not – well it was fun for me!
I work for [deleted]; a UK based Digital Marketing Consultancy.
We represent clients interested in social media marketing on smaller sites with little or no existing advertising and we’re currently looking for advertising partners.
We pay a fixed upfront annual fee which we will agree on with you. Once the ad is in place, payment is made within approximately 48 hours.
Would you be interested in placing a small text-based ad on Nest-Expressed.com?
Thanks for contacting me!
I am generally in favour of keeping my site clean of ads at the moment.
Having said that, it would depend largely upon the intrusiveness of the ad, its placement and the content it would link to. If it is something that is aligned with the main theme of the blog (namely humour / entertainment), then there’s a chance it would work to complement the blog.
Do you have something specific in mind?
Thanks for getting back to me!
My proposal is to add a new page on your website:
Basically, we would like you to create a new post or article on your blog to accommodate our client’s ad.
We will provide you with the URL, and you can link to it in any manner you see fit. You can write the page in review format or simply write about the usual topics on Nest-expressed.com.
We represent Non–gaming Clients such as: Finance, Telecommunications, Tourism, Jeweller, Insurance etc. and Online Gaming Clients (casino, poker or bingo sites).
The rate we can offer you is 150 USD per annum. We aim to complete payment via secure payment partners Paypal or Moneybookers within 1 to 2 business days of the advert going live on your site.
You may read our terms and conditions: [deleted]
To give you an idea of what a text advert looks like, please view our example: [deleted, a Disney site] where the anchor is ‘Virgin Atlantic’.
If you are interested, please let me know. We’ll then send over the client’s URL (subject to your approval) so you can proceed with the draft of the advert.
Also, if you manage or own other sites, I’ll be glad to check them out as well. The price may vary depending on the website. The fee is PER advert so multiple sites will generate bigger profit.
Please let me know if you have any questions I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Happy Sunday! Did you know that Sunday is considered by many to be the seventh day of the week?
I’ve been having trouble with my email lately, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to read the even lines of your last email. Can I please ask you to write only on odd lines going forward?
As far as I understood you want me to pay Virgin Atlantic to have Disney promote my adverts, correct?
Also, does the sum of 150 USD depend on the quality of writing and the amount of inappropriate jokes, or is it a fixed amount?
Looking forward to hearing your clarifications.
All the best,
PS: Congratulations on your debut album! I’m sure “In the Corner” will get the great reviews it deserves!
We now have the details you need to include the advert on your site. Please let me know if this suits you.
Our client: [deleted]
Our price: 150 USD
We simply ask that you write a new blog post on your site – it can be about anything. Once you have written the new post/article you just need to find a section/word in the content and then link it to [deleted]
– you are free to use any word as your anchor text
– you can place the link anywhere on the page – before, within or after the article.
– we only need one hyperlink in the entire page
Finally you will need to publish the new page live on your system and ensure that it is correctly linked from the homepage of your site.
– again, you are free to use any word as your anchor text on the homepage
– you can place the link in the navigation, sidebar or footer. If your site automatically shows recent posts, we can just use that as the link to the new page.
I hope you’ll find everything in order and acceptable. Once you decide to insert the advert and have made it active, please send me confirmation. Please include your PayPal or Moneybookers address so that I can arrange payment to you right away.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions or concerns. We’ll be glad to adjust accordingly.
Thanks very much and I look forward to your reply!
Excellent! Thanks for accepting. This is great! Is there any chance I also can get a signed copy of your critically acclaimed “In The Corner” along with the payment?
I have to remind you that, as duly stated in my prior email pertaining to henceforth therein, I am unable to see what you write on odd lines, so I end up missing half of your message.
However, I think I have understood what’s needed. Please correct me if this is wrong:
You want me to write a gambling article about anchors and then place it on Disney’s site. Thereafter Virgin will transfer a sum of 150 USD to me.
This sounds simple enough, so I think it’s more than acceptable!
Vis-a-vis payment, I do indeed have a “pay pal”, and his name is Mike. He can stop by to collect the money any weekday from 12:00 to 17:00 and some Sundays after 12:00 (he plays poker on Saturdays). Shall I give you his contact number?
Looking forward to working with you on this exciting project. Let’s change the children’s future together!
All the very best,
Thank you for your email.
I think there may have been a bit of misunderstanding. We are looking for a new page on nest-expressed.com. Is this possible?
If yes, please write an article about anything you fancy, insert a few relevant texts about our client, and then pick a word most relevant to gaming and then link it to the client’s site: [deleted]
To clarify, the Disney site with the Virgin Atlantic link is just a sample. We are looking for a page similar to it.
Are you OK with this? If yes, please let me know when the article has been added on your site.
As for payment, we can only send payments through PayPal or MoneyBookers for billing and tracking purposes. Do you have a PayPal account we can use for this?
Thanks Daniel. I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for the Speedy Gonzales response, that was fast!
I am a bit surprised that Disney and Virgin Atlantic decided to suddenly back out of this lucrative opportunity. I was counting on their loyal support, resources and wacky cartoon characters! It’s strange to see large corporations suddenly acting in their own self-interest – what is this, the Upside Down Universe?!
However, we can of course proceed without them. We can persevere! We. Are. Legend! Do you agree?
Since you insist on using both odd and even lines in your emails I still struggle to get the full meaning of your communication. Not to worry, here’s what we do:
1) Mike, my “pay pal”, will contact you sometime during but not later than before next Sunday. Where can he reach you?
2) I will set up an exact copy of the Disney site under a different name, as per your explicit request.
3) Once payment has been received we can set up a Party Poker page on this site, generating revenue and keeping us in business.
I don’t want to keep begging, but I’m still very much interested in a signed copy of “In The Corner”, if you find it convenient.
Once again, thank you for this fantastic opportunity. It is a true pleasure to set out on this wondrous journey with you!
Have a great weekend and get back to me soonest.
Peas, love, and muskets,
Thank you for your email.
I think you got me confused with another Linda Hicks (the singer). That’s not me, unfortunately.
I believe you got the whole thing wrong. You don’t need to set up another Disney site./page. What we need is a new page, under Nest-expressed.com.
This new page will contain an article written by you, with our client’s link within it.
Also, we can only pay via PayPal. Unfortunately we can’t give the payment to “Mike”.
My sincere apologies for the confusion. You sounded a bit upset in your email. Please bear with me, I’m new to building online money empires!
Do you have any contact to Linda Hicks, the singer? If so, please pass on my humble wish to be blessed with a signed copy of her majestic CD.
Back to business, because money talks and dead horse won’t beat itself, as they say.
I’m afraid we do indeed face a crisis of communication, and perhaps only odd lines of my email are reaching you as well? In order for me to be sure, in your next response please copy and paste the following 5 lines of bullets, so that I know both you and I are getting each others messages in their entirety:
- Your Base
- To Us
If I fail to receive the above list in your email “as is” then I’ll know something is wrong and will have to switch to a different email or contact Yahoo! customer support.
Now, I understand you are hesitant to deal with Mike, but I can assure you he’s really good at his job. His drinking problem is behind him and he only has blackouts once every month now, at worst! However, should you insist on finding an alternative solution, I can arrange a pick-up by Peter instead.
OK, I think we’re very close to getting to the bottom of this misunderstanding. We are like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, you and I. Except for our names are different and I’m not a Dr., are you?
I think we can have something up and running already next week, should our differences be resolved.
May you forever be in the eternity of time,
We have decided to move to another direction and contact a different advertiser instead. I sincerely thank you for your time.
I must say I’m quite shocked by this unexpected change of heart. First Disney, then Virgin Atlantic, now you as well? I expected better! But maybe that’s my problem – always seeing the good instead of seeing the tree in the forest for a gift horse that it is?!
I have already started on an article for you and told Peter and Mike to stand by, but if you wish to go another direction, then so be it.
I will accept a copy of “In the Corner” (it doesn’t have to be signed) as a token of your good will and as apology for you having turned your back on me. However, I completely expect you to break this promise as well.
Should you change your mind and instead decide to proceed as per previously proposed promise pertaining to provision of payment for a promotional project, I am willing to re-consider.
In any case, may the odds be forever in your favour – you had me at “Hello”!