I always told myself that if my ship ever came in, I’d be out of the newspaper business faster than you can say “Bon voyage, suckers!”
Well, guess what ...
Apparently, not only has my ship come in, but at least four more of them are lined up behind it at the dock — each just begging me to climb aboard and sail off into the sunset.
Permit me to explain.
The entire worldwide volume of email is supposedly something like 269 billion messages, every day. Two hundred sixty nine BILLION, people, and 49.7 percent of those messages are considered spam.
In other words, roughly half of the billions upon billions of digital pieces of mail that are sent out on a daily basis are crummy commercials for something. And if you’ve got a good spam filter, most of those get blocked and end up in a separate folder on your computer.
Periodically, I like to peruse the spam folder associated with my email account, just to see what interesting things I might have missed. This past week, waiting for sources to return phone calls, I went through that folder. Emails automatically kill out after 30 days, and in the last month, 498 of them were labeled as spam.
Hidden among all the junk mail was a handful of offers simply too good to pass up. Like these top five ships, just waiting for the recipient to climb aboard and turn into easy, free money:
• SHIP ONE: The S.S. Charitable Lottery Winner
Last Thursday I got an email from someone named Mavis Wanczyk. Mavis wasted no time in getting right to the point: “I am giving you part of my US Powerball Millions Lottery winnings as a donation to you.” She then listed her email address.
No explanation of just exactly how much her winnings were ($5? $50? $50 million?) or what “part” of her windfall I’d be receiving.
Mavis doesn’t even explain how this particular lucky dog came to be the recipient of such a generous donation from a complete stranger.
But you know what they say: Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
• SHIP TWO: The S.S. Hardly Seems Worth My Time
Sometimes your ship comes in. Sometimes it’s a leaky rowboat.
On Tuesday, I got an email from “Walgreens Reward” informing me: “Your customer ID was selected for a Courtesy $50 Walgreens gift card.”
Now, setting aside the fact that I’m quite certain I don’t have a “customer ID” at Walgreens, it’s hard to imagine a Fortune 500 company would use the email name “Fancy.walg.2.gmss.5242B” from a web domain registered through the tiny South Pacific island nation of Tokelau.
Ah, but that’s not the real reason to find this offer suspect. Because not only is it a mere 50 bucks, but it’s a mere 50 bucks at Walgreens, of all places. Meaning if you needed to stock up on greeting cards, or cheap plastic toys, or a medicated dandruff shampoo, I suppose it would come in handy.
• SHIP THREE: The S.S. Free is More Expensive Than I Remember
On Friday, I got an email from the private-jet booking app JetSmarter. The program allows well-heeled travelers to book single seats on scheduled private jet flights around the country.
Now, unlike many of the other offers in my spam folder, this one’s from a legitimate business. However, this email makes the list for one curious sentence: “Members fly free for only $15K.”
For only $15,000, you can fly free? Clearly, Janis Joplin had it wrong in “Me and Bobby McGee.” As it turns out, freedom’s just another word for Fifteen Thousand Dollars.
• SHIP FOUR: The S.S. Name Withheld (For Security Reasons)
On March 24, I got an email from a Mr. Teddy Blake, whose entire pitch read: “I wish to notify you that you are clear to claim substantial amount in the codicil and last testament of a deceased customers account (Name now withheld for security reasons). Because this is our second contact to you. Kindly Contact me for more details. Yours truly, Mr. Teddy Blake.”
Not only did I have to look up “codicil,” I find it amazing that I would be the beneficiary for a dead customer of an unnamed company.
• SHIP FIVE: The S.S. Going By Boat is Undoubtedly Safer Than Flying Mozambican Airlines
What’s the next best thing to being offered millions of dollars by a Nigerian prince? Being offered millions of dollars by a South African banker.
On March 31, I received an email from Kins Zondo — which sounds a lot like a character from a “Star Wars” movie. Zondo is a client relationship officer at something called “Rand Merchant Bank Private Bank.” (The bank so important they named it twice.)
In a long, rambling email, Zondo tells the tragic tale of a businessman who was killed with his vacationing family in a Mozambican Airlines crash back in late 2013.
But the good news? Stapleton left $9.5 million behind, he has no living relatives and — you guessed it — Zondo wants to pass off little old me as the beneficiary.
Tempting as the deal may be, according to Zondo the money would be split “fifty percent for me, forty five percent for you and five percent for lawyer representing us.”
Which is where Zondo’s get-rich-quick story completely falls apart.
Because seriously? Who’s going to believe a lawyer would take five percent?