There should be an Oscar for this stuff

Back in the day, one of my favourite hobbies used to be taunting Nigerian email scammers. You know the ones – those scumbags who pretent their great-grandfather, the late president of Ngmbuto, left them $27 million that they need your help (and money) in releasing. These assholes have done untold damage around the world as well as in Nigeria (would you do business online with a Nigerian?), and deserve everything they get. Ok, everything except the countless millions of dollars they scam out of greedy suckers.

Anyhoo, I used to love answering their emails with ‘how can I help?’ messages and see how far I could string them along before they gave up. I can’t say I ever reached the pinnacle of scam-baiting (where you manage to convince one to send you money), but I had some success.

I used to give them my work mobile number (not linked to me in any way) and ask them to call me when I knew to be 3am in Nigeria. When they called I’d do everything I could to keep them on the line – often putting them on ‘call waiting’ while ‘speaking with my banker’ (i.e. putting them on hold and watching TV for a bit). Hell hath no fury like a conman piling coins into a phone booth for an hour in the middle of the night – not that I’d know, ‘cos I was always able to keep them thinking they might get paid at some stage. Yeah right!

I had one chump arrange a hotel for me in Durban (believe me, I had no intention of going to South Africa!) and attempt to satisfy a rider I’d sent him, which included:

  • An eighty year-old black manservant named Toby.
  • A red tuxedo for the abovementioned manservant
  • A seventeen year-old Filipino girl named Wilma, and a forty-five year-old Mexican named Barbara. The former must have a birthmark on her left ankle shaped like the North Island, the latter a birthmark on her right knee shaped like the South Island
  • Two H&K MP5 submachine guns and 1000 rounds of ammunition
  • (list went on like this for two pages)

You get the idea?

Anyway, as my interest in this wonderous passtime grew I often checked out some of the websites created by like-minded individuals. Which brings me to this little gem – without doubt the best I have ever heard of. What started out as a simple request for “a reputable gentleman who will be of great assistance to the family and somebody who can take over the sum of $27M (Twenty Seven Million United States Dollars Only)which is presently deposited in a Security Company, for investment” ended up with the conman copying Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets out by hand.

Don’t believe me?

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I tip my hat to you Sir. You are a bloody legend!

But how did they know?

A couple of years back I logged on to Domainz to renew one of my domain names. As you quite often find these days I was presented with an image of some random letters, and instructed to type the letters in to the text box provided – the idea being to keep robots (malicious applications) out of their self-service area.

Click on the thumbnail below to view the security question. I made the screenshot myself. I swear it hasn’t been doctored in any way. Scout’s honour.


Reminds me of my first job in a digital agency. We were preparing to launch a text messaging application for a radio station, and one of the features we’d built was a profanity filter to save the DJ’s from ‘you guys suck ass’-type messages. So there we were. Two sweet, wholesome kiwi boys and a well-bred, Cambridge-educated Muslim. Gathered round a table sharing our extensive knowledge of curse words and entering them into the application database. Let’s just say it took a while, and when we were finished I was a changed man. Reckon I have grounds for an OSH claim over that one?

Jobs = Satan?

Just received a bizarre email from a friend of mine (produced verbatim below). The gist is that the bite taken out of the apple in the Apple logo and the $666.66 sale price of the Apple I when it was released in July 1976 together constitute some kind of satanic message.

Satan temted Adam and eve to take a bite out of the apple so the would have divine knowlege or be illuminated. price of Apple I $666

An interesting observation and probably the basis for some bitchin’ chain letters over the years (please do NOT forward this to everyone in your address book!!!), but before the party gets out of hand I’d like to piss on the campfire a little:

  1. There is no mention of an apple in the book of Genesis. Fruit yes. Apple no.
  2. There is no God. There is no Satan. There is also no Loch Ness monster, boogie man, Easter bunny, Santa Claus, or fairies at the bottom of the garden. People who believe this crap are idiots, and Steve Jobs is nobody’s fool. Trust me on this.

Have a nice day!

apple logo

If it came with a headstone, I’d buy one!

BMW was a client of mine for about three years, prior to my leaving Marker at the start of last year. They could be a challenge at times (I’ve yet to find a client who isn’t) but they were damn cool to work with.

A lot of people daydream about winning the lottery and what they’d do with the money. Most will reel off a shopping list starting with a big house and flash car, most likely a Ferrari or a Porsche. Sod that. When I hit the big time the only thing that would deter me from buying an M5 or M6 is the knowledge that I will almost certainly – and at no fault of the car or its manufacturer – die behind the wheel of said supercar (or in close proximity to its crumpled remains).

Last year I was fortunate to land a spot on one of BMW’s regular driver training courses at Pukekohe race track. After a day of instruction, skills testing and driving brand new 330i’s like they were stolen, instructor Mike Eady (former Porsche Racing Series champion and class winner of the Nurbergring 24-hour race) took us all out for ‘hot laps’ in the M5 he’d been driving all day. The bog-standard M5 he’d picked up at Jerry Clayton’s that morning…

Four passengers. Hot brakes. Badly work tyres. 3 passengers. 245 km/h (153 mph) in 5th gear. Apparently he decided not to use 6th or 7th ‘cos he ‘didn’t want to push it’.

The M cars are fucking monsters, and superior to every supercar you could think of, with the possible exception of the Bugatti Veyron (but with a $4m price tag, the Veyron might as well be hypothetical). Screw longeivity – I want one!

The first video I stumbled across this afternoon, and shows German racing legend Hans Stuck taking an M6 up to 194 mph (310 km/h) on the Autobahn. The second is from 2004, and shows the same guy setting a new lap record at the Nurburgring in an M3 GTR. At one point you see a little black dot appear in front of him, get slowly bigger and then flash past his side window. In case you miss it, it’s a 911 Turbo doing over 100 mph.



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Copywriting .101

Ok so this doesn’t just apply to copywriting. Have a look at the ad below, form your own opinion about the product, the client and whoever created the ad, and then click on the image to see the rest of the copy.

I’d like to think this was already widely understood, but apparently not. Let me spell it out for you folks:

If you say something is ‘classy’, it isn’t. And neither are you.

I’ll leave you to digest that while I watch me some Springer. Now THAT is classy!

Bill’s swan song

The video below was takes from Bill Gates’ final (of about a dozen, over the years) keynote address at CES. Apologies for the crap quality, but still well worth a look. Nice to know the old girl still has a sense of humour.


Reminds me of a similar film Bill Clinton made just before his departure from the White House. Reckon Dubya will make one too, or is it just a Bill thing?