Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Haunt for Dead October

*A seasonal repost from the website archives*
Depending on whom you talk to, thanks to a vote of the people in 1990, a "great awakening" took place, economically, in the Colorado mountain towns of Central City, Blackhawk, and Cripple Creek. Once-booming gold mining towns in the 1860s, had become close to economic blackholes by the 1980s. Local and other interests put forth a bold plan to bring them back to, if not beyond, their "heyday" status through voter-approved limited stakes gaming.

In November of 1990, the voters of Colorado made it so, paving the way for the "great awakening". But apparently that isn't all it "awakened".

A good deal of what's to follow herein is based on a few historical records, a number of eye-witness accounts, lots of local gossip and some convincingly (and not) related folklore. Stories about things not easily explained. Stories that have, down the years, made for the classic ingredients of chilling campfire tales, or the seeds of bed time nightmares. Stories about things generally made entertaining or frightful by masters of the macabre like Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Stephen King, Rod Serling and the Pelosi-led US House.

I have worked in the casinos of Central City since 1992. Each of those I have worked in have their own "ghost stories", as related by others I've worked with or interviewed. In all that time, I have yet to personally experience anything I could swear fit the category of "paranormal". Granted, I've encountered a portion of examples of "abnormal", like one character who claimed he could receive space communications via his briefcase. But I've personally seen nothing that a few beers couldn't help me explain to someone else who'd had a few more than me.

At the same time, I'll add that I don't casually dismiss some of the anecdotes I've collected. More than a few of my sources are folks I know to be quite credible, and not at the time of our chats under the care of their casino pharmacist (aka, bartender). Most of their anecdotes involve spirits that seem gentle, peaceful, inquisitive and even fun-loving. However, there are a few cases wherein the anecdotes speak to something more tragic, perhaps even malevolent. With the exceptions of officially documented encounters, I will withhold names of the establishments and the persons interviewed, since much of what will follow herein has no independent verification; all the ghosts I tried to follow up with wouldn't spook to me to get their side of the story on record.

The first anecdote takes place in the parking lot above the now-closed Teller House, back in 1995: the witness had just pulled into the parking after dark, and was about to back into a parking spot, when "out of nowhere, a bent old man walks across in front of my car. The old man was dressed in worn clothing that appeared consistent with that of a 19th Century prospector. He walked across in front of my car, taking no notice of it, and just disappeared in the night". What affected the witness most was the fact that "my car's headlights shone through the man as he walked by".
Staying with the Teller House, there are believed to be several ghosts who call the Teller House home (my thanks to Dorothy Spellman and Mary Taitt for providing me with a brief precis of these ghosts). Three are of particular interest, as they have some historical background to the area: Red Rosie, Bill Hamilton, and The Blonde Lady from the 3rd Floor.

According to historical documentation, "Red Rosie" had survived a small pox epidemic that killed 70 people in the valley in 1901, and she then volunteered as a nurse to help tend the stricken there in the Teller House (used as an improv hospital at the time). Referred to after her passing as "an angel or a saint", Red Rosie's spirit remains within the Teller House: her image is reportedly sometimes seen as a reflection in a mirror, located within the structure.
Bill Hamilton was described as "a genial Irishman" who was something of a backstage manager of the Central City Opera House in the 1930s, providing security for such entertainers as Lillian Gish and Mae West. He was also the caretaker of the silver ingots which were laid in front of the Teller House in those days (no longer). Hamilton was also known as a great teller of stories, with a ready sense of humor, and which apparently remains in evidence today: several bartenders have reported being "grabbed" when retrieving bar supplies from storage. And one female employee had the wits scared out of her when Bill "appeared to her, seated on a case of beer". When she screamed, "he immediately vanished", but the unmistakeable smell of pipe tobacco lingered in the vicinity thereafter (Bill loved, among other things, "a good pipe"), clearly discerned by her and others who responded to her shriek. And a number of employees reported having smelled pipe tobacco when no one with a pipe was, or had been in, the Teller House.

Finally, the Blonde Lady of the 3rd Floor: according to the information, it is believed that "her husband committed suicide after punching her", out of guilt for having done so. Apparently, many guests have heard her on the 3rd Floor, moaning and sobbing, most likely in the wake of his passing, and ever since. A few who've heard her say it sends unpleasant chills through them.

One casino -- closed for a period of time and now open under a different name -- claims to have surveillance video that actually caught an "image", standing in an aisle of slot machines after closing, as if the "image" were examining the machines. When Security responded to check on the sighting, no one was found, and the "image" had disappeared. Then there was the the 3x5' bulletin board, hung on an interior stairwell landing wall, that was seen to suddenly rise straight out and drop to the floor, also viewed on video. I wasn't allowed to see the video of either; but I was shown a still photo from the first episode. And there was, indeed, a very discernible humanesque "image" in the photo.

Another casino -- again, closed and now open under new management -- was, and perhaps still is, home to at least two ghosts: one is referred to as "John", and is reportedly a seasonal visitor. Prior to the closing of the facility in the early-mid 1990s, the then-employees reportedly knew when "John" was in, and particularly when "John" was upset about something: one morning, staff coming in found every knife in the restaurant kitchen, point-first in the floor.

The other ghost -- referred to by one witness as "The Lady In Black" -- visited a construction worker during the pre-opening renovation phase of the facility back in 1992. As he related it to me, he was working on the second floor of the building, when he noticed a woman "in a long, black, old-style-looking dress", watching him work. When he asked what she was doing there, she turned and walked into the wall, vanishing. The worker told me he promptly took the rest of the job off.

Another casino along Main Street, is reputed to have at least one "ghost" in residence. One is reportedly a tall "cowboy", attired in the traditional hat and linen duster. He was seen in a mirror by one of the building owners, prior to the facility being opened for gaming in 1991. This witness related "feeling a presence over his left shoulder", and saw an apparition in the mirror on the wall in front of him; when he turned, no one was there, and the image in the mirror had vanished. After opening, one cocktail waitress reported that "someone tried to push me out of a second story window", when no one was standing or sitting within twenty feet of her at the time. And a graveyard shift janitor there also claims to have had a "running battle" with one or more "ghosts" there, over the games in the arcade (since relocated to a different facility). He would turn them off after closing, and the games would shortly thereafter "come back on".

No one else was in the facility at the time but him. And his arcade game-loving "ghost".

While most of the hauntings reported are in facilities that have been in the town for a century and more, some of the newer construction hasn't proven immune to spirited activity: a valet employee of one newly-erected casino in 1994, claimed to have seen a little boy in the valet parking area; when the employee approached the boy, the boy "ran into a wall and disappeared". A security officer had a similar encounter in the hotel of this same casino, with a man and woman whom she could see the wall through. When the male apparition turned and waved the security officer off, the officer was all too eager to follow the suggestion. When she came back by a few minutes later, the couple was gone.

In one casino that combined new construction adjoining an original structure -- and one that I worked in for a time -- count team members reported having empty coin cans "thrown around the room", and one janitor reported encountering "someone" sitting at the second floor bar, an hour after closing. The responding security officer to the janitor's report at the time -- me -- found no one, and no image was seen from the surveillance cameras, but the janitor was adamant about what he had seen.

One interesting anecdote -- with back up photo evidence -- comes from an old theatre along Central City's Main Street, known as the Belvidere Theatre. A cocktail waitress showed me a photo that she'd taken of a piano on the stage of the under-renovation theatre. The picture, she related, was taken in the presence of others. No one was sitting at the piano when the photo was shot; but someone was, when the Polaroid photo finished imaging: a woman wearing 19th Century attire. A woman you could see through in the photo. Later in a follow-up conversation with this waitress, she related having had several "conversations" with this spirit, through the use of hand-held divining-like wands, and that the spirit was very "friendly and caring".

This waitress (no longer employed where I work) is both a blonde and a "looker"; despite those seeming credibility disqualifiers, I tend to believe her story. Especially when I saw the photo.

Finally, a tale from one casino in Blackhawk in the early 90s: again, a tale alleged to have been captured on surveillance video tape (one I didn't get to see, but was told about by an employee who had seen the video). When this particular casino closed at night, no one remained on property. An alarm system supplemented the surveillance equipment. When the first employees arrived the next morning, they found a slot machine in full jackpot mode, as if it'd just been won. Astonished that the night shift would leave a machine in this mode, the employees were more astonished when they reviewed the surveillance video: roughly an hour after the casino closed and the last person had left, the slot machine play handle came down, as if pulled, the reels spun, and the jackpot symbols came up on the machine, activating the overhead flashing candles. No slot tech I've ever spoken to about this can come up with a way for this to happen on the older-style slot machines without physical manipulation.
And there are many, many more stories between the two towns; I have little doubt that Cripple Creek has its share, as well.

So...believe what you will this Halloween. Believe in or deny the hereafter. Acknowledge that sudden, chilling feeling that you're not alone, or dismiss it as an explainable non-event. Whatever your persuasion, if you visit a casino in Central City, Blackhawk or Cripple Creek, and think that you feel the presence of something, you might be right. It just might be Lady Luck.

Or, The Lady In Black.
Happy Halloween.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scam Acres

Craigslist is a wunnerful place.
To get scammed.
I've dealt with two previous scammers on Craigslist, both at the request of friends who've tried to use Craigslist to sell stuff, only to get hit upon by a scammer.
Then comes number 3, as a colleague's wife nearly got had.
A coworker of mine's wife went job hunting on, among other places, Craigslist. And almost immediately, she got a job offer that sounded like a dream.
On Craigslist.
And in short order -- after she shared a good deal of her personal information with the prospective employer, a Mr. James Peters -- she received a check via the mail, from Califorlornia, for $2230. Which she was instructed to deposit, and keep $500 of for her first week of work (something daycare-0riented).
Meantime, she was instructed by her new 'employer' to wire $1430 via Western Union to someone in Boston, MA, using the balance to do so. And, somewhat strangely she thought it, her new employer's phone number was a longer than usual one, beginning with a 44.
That's, I say son, that's a UK country code.
At any rate, she didn't put it all together, so thus dutifully did as she was told to do by her new 'employer'.
A wizened clerk at Western Union smelled out the scam before my colleague's wife made the ultimate fiscal faux pas of wiring the money.
Meantime, the scammer began to pepper her cell phone with text messages, and phone calls. My colleague -- to buy time -- told the scammer that his wife was away for a few days, visiting relatives. He related that the caller -- his wife's purported 'employer', and apparent scammer -- sounded foreign, almost Middle Eastern.
At any rate, he bought some time. And with the time bought, he contacted...yours truly ;-)
So -- while my colleague and his wife got things straightened out with their bank (no harm, no foul, thanks to a sharp-eyed Western Union clerk) -- I, more than happily, took over the role of his 'wife', e(fe)mail speaking.
It's a good thing neither they nor the scammer had or used a webcam, but I digress.
My third go-around with a Craigslist scammer didn't last as long, or get as funny as I might have hoped; but I accomplished the goal that has become so easy for me, what with ten years of practice.
I wrote progressively weirder emails to the scammer, to the delight of my colleague and spouse.
And it begins as I now assume the role of my colleague's wife, with the following email to the scammer, James Peters:
James, I am sorry for the confusion. I had to travel out of town on family business, and my spouse got confused by the instructions, not being totally familiar with your and my employment agreement. SO...please repeat to me exactly what I am to send where, and to whom, via Western Union, and I will attend to it as quickly as possible. I am so happy to have this opportunity you have afforded me.
The poor unsuspecting scammer doesn't notice a change, since the intended victim allowed me to use her email account to respond from:
Thanks for your message. You will deduct $500 for yourself being a week deposit and have the remainder of the $1730 sent including western union charges. Below is the information you will use to send the fund to the store via western union money transfer:
Receiver's Name: Wilson Charles
Address: 125 Summer St Ste 1910
City: Boston
Zip Code: 02110-1615
State: MA
Once you have sent the fund, you will get back to me with all the necessary transfer details. MTCN and the exact amount sent so that I can forward to the store for the immediate release of the items. It will be appreciated if you can also attach the copy of the receipt for my record purpose. I will be expecting the western union details as soon as you possible this morning.
And I reckon he was expecting the information that morning. But he didn't get it:
Great! I will attend to this after I finish milking the cows. I'm at my family's farm outside of Grand Island, Nebraska: I'm helping my father-in-law out while he has surgery for straining his ubula. It stinks here, but I love animals and helping out. And no need to text me (he was sending her multiple text messages, asking for updates); I'll email you the information as soon as I get back from Grand Island (I'm about 30 minutes from there).
And, later that evening, I began my well-played game:
Okay, Mr. Peter, the money is sent to Boston, just as you said. I'll be babysitting some pigs for a while, so if you have any questions, email me. I'll check in later.
Later ran well into the next day, which prompted a quick note from Mr. Peters, along with my failure to include the MTCN:
Let me have the MTCN and exact amount sent
Instead, and later, this is what he received:
What MTCN do you refer to? As for the amount, it's what you said you wanted me to send, $500, just like we agreed. Sent it to Boston.
I will be out birthing pigs in the barn late tonight; any questions, email me and I'll get back to you later Friday. Thanks again for the job. It's all good.
This did NOT draw an immediate response from the scammer, so I waited a spell and threw in the following:
Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner today. I've been shearing sheep all day from sun up, and whoa mutton, what a long hot job that was. But it was woolworth it. And speaking of which, with all the skeins of yarn I'll be getting as my share, I can knit you an afghan, knitted to fit. Best of all, this afghan won't blow you up like a Taliban kind would. These are so much nicer afghans. What's your size? I'll get right on it after I help inseminate the goats. We use a turkey baster. It keeps out goats from trying to screw the ducks. That's not a pretty thing to witness.
Now, what was that about the MTCN?
One of two possibilities:
(1) it's the weekend, and he ain't got access to his internet cafe, or
(2) he's figured out that he's being counter-played
In either event, I'm content with firing another salvo:
The meter's running...order now, while there's still time to get you a custom-knitted afghan that doesn't blow up like the Taliban kind. I can only knit so fast, and the orders are pouring in. Order now, and I'll throw in, absolutely free, a Western Union MTCN number! Supplies are limited, so ORDER NOW via email! Orderbots are standing by to take your order*!
And I can still fit in day care for your spawn; they'll love slopping the chickens and plucking the alpacas. Green Acres is the place to be, farm living is the life for me! Dooba dooba.
*DISCLAIMER: this offer not valid on Craigslist, eBay, or on HSN. Void where prohibited by no internet. Your results may vary. Kids shouldn't try this at home, but it's okay at a neighbor's, long as parental supervision is hors de daycare. You should never take this email if taking a diuretic or other mucus-solidifying prescription. Possible side effects may include dry crotch, toe nail distension, ear hives, sonic boom flatulence, and pet trauma associated with the last. Afghans by Ash can be differentiated from Taliban afghans by (a) quality of knit (b) lack of bulky filler in fabric and (c) fuse attached to filler. This email, if read backwards, may spell out in Wiccan, "I snort the vibrating pickle! Devil dildos!". This weirds out most folks, so don't do that. The US Department of Knitreculture requires this DISCLAIMER.
Since this last email went out, my colleague advises me his wife has ceased receiving phone calls, text messages, and follow up emails from the scammer. If nothing further turns up by early next week, I reckon Scam Acres has moved on to less weird scammees.
Dooba dooba. Scam Acres ain't the place to be. Your results may vary.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"24" -- The Scambait Version

*This isn't the whole story from '08, but a recap of a follow up where a scammer tried to play a political scam with a professional blogger; that blogger contacted me for a tag-team on the scammer. When the scammer initially got had, he tried to play the intimidation card, followed by a card neither of us expected. If you haven't read it, enjoy it here*
I'll bet Jack Bauer's response would be a tad different from my own. You be the judge. *snort*
After my last (and coordinated) scambait, highlighted with an excellent chronology of the bait by Bob McCarty at Bob McCarty Writes, I had concluded the bait by sending our intended duper (of us), Sam Ooko, my (un)patented deer butt door bell Euro, with instructions on how he could cash it.
Early the next morning, I had two emails awaiting me. Neither from "Sam" (or perhaps they were, after a fashion, but that's for the update), thanking me for my largess; one was from a character claiming to have me under surveillance, and insisting that I follow the dictates of the other emailer, or I'd be on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted List for "the rest of my far right days" (the guy tried to sound like a Bill Ayers SDS surrogate).
The other was from the "dictator", who identified herself as Nancy DeMille, Attorney. Herein, read her "dictate" to ol' Skunk:
To (my alleged name):
I represent my client who thinks you have published defaming articles on the internet specifically on BobMcCartyWrites and on your Skunkfeathers blog and which besmirch his reputation. Will you remove the said articles or you suffer the repercussions of your stupidity. And we are watching from the corner of (a street alleged to be nearby where I reside), so don't ever try to play smart.
It may not be well known to the American public what you do with your Project Vote Smart, but we shall sure get to spread the word (where were you bozos when I was running that parody and NEEDED the word spread? Eh...).
You have 24 hours to comply.
Nancy DeMille
Fancy that..."Sam" got hisself the "Gloria Allred" of Scamland to represent hisself, and copied this email to Bob McCarty as well. Kewl. Bob suggested we'd probably be a 'hit' with the folks in Nairobi over this. He musta knowd somepin...
I can't speak for Bob on what, if anything, he'll do with his email. And as a God-fearin', tax-payin', registered-votin', law-abidin' citizen of this h'yar USofA, I think y'all know of my great respect and reverence for the rule of law.
Fortunately -- for readers of this blog -- ol' Skunk isn't quite so reverent:
Yo, Legal Wench,
As party of the second part in this email of dubious antecedence and laughable prodigy, I am gratified to receive the attentions and solicitations of a member of a bar and grill that represents the party of the first part, whom you have left nameless as his predecessor probably did, but that's of miniscule consequence to the more pressing issues at hand, in so far as herein there are, in fact, legal matters pressing any appendage, per se. We both know who it is you purport to represent this Halloween.
I will not presume to speak for the party of the third part, or parties to be held honoring the various and sundry constumed of the the holiday near upon; let me just say to you in the language of legalese -- as an attorney, I have no doubt you can fathom the gist of this -- enum no quista parabellum ante och phoo nortrea ack phooey. That's Latin, as I'm sure you recognize, and it spells out in depositional transitory ad hoc enum nausea, the renumerated response hereby made by the party of the second part, to the accredited in some fashion reptile hissing for the party of the first part, a nameless entity of aforementioned dubious antecedence with odious ties to violated small furry mammals.
Let it be announced herein as subject to the dictates of Legal Precepts From Beyond The Outhouse (Randomover And Pressed Publishing Co., Pahrump, NV, USA), Section IV, paragraph 31, subsection aa, wherein it states in part "if a sheep is a ram, and a donkey is an ass, why is a ram in the ass a goose?". This will have to be definitively established as prima facie rib non sequitur bubi before actionable torts of the creme-filled kind can proceed with alacrity and dyspepsia.
And since you are watching, you know what I just did out the window at you, don't you? Of course you do. The moon ain't over just Miami, bubi.
At the conclusion of the chronological time frame annotated by the diseased mouthpiece for party of the first part -- you really should have worn protection at that wildebeest party during the rut season, you savage, you -- you shall have a response in keeping with the deservance of your initial pleadings, and measuring down fully to that which you are a step below, evolutionarily. More or less.
I be Skunkfeathers, and I approve of massage.
A less dignified response went out to Nancy DeMille's chum, John Smythe, who wrote shortly after Regretta Van Cesspool; and among his other threats, he included that I would be on the FBI's Most Wanted List of pedophiles!
Two future leading lights of the socialist legal community, I have no doubt (if they are two, three, or just one).
At any rate, with my responses to their respective 'warnings' now in their slimey little hands, I eagerly await a response, if any, from Attilette the Hen or her outhouse troll. All the same person as "Sam", perhaps.
*And a little later*
You were wrong, Bob: the fun ain't over yet...
By later that same morning -- after I had sent my replies and subsequent taunts, and Bob had continued to spread the word to various and sundry news organizations -- we both received the following email from "Sam"..."Nancy"..."John"....this time, under the initials "DK":
Dear Bob and (me):
Gentlemen, you win. You surely got me 10-nil, lying down. But this was a case of stolen identity. The poor guy, Sam, of course could not have used his real names, and provided his employer's details if this was really intended as a scam? You see, as a journalist, his works are on the internet so it was easy to pick him out, he doesn't even normally use this email addy.
Actually, I am based in the US, you will note I used an internet phone to call you so you couldn't exactly track where I was. There is no way a Kenyan folk in Kenya could have had such an in-depth knowledge of US based pro-McCain/GOP sites and whom to contact (that sells a whole lot of internet-savvy Kenyans short, but I digress). His was such a game coz he writes for a US blog, is based in Kenya, supposedly something that was alluring to potential media in the US where I hoped to sell the story. But I knew you wouldn't call, it was such a big gamble on my part and I was right.
I was to use a contact in Nairobi to present Sam's fake ID to cash the money, but you were ahead of our game, sir. Bob, your man (my name) was real good (yeah, well...y'know...*wink*).
Can I apologize? I am sorry. But it is unfair that the guy's name still remains on your blog sites, and has now been picked by NewPublic and
Maybe, perhaps...or not.
But I did bother with a last reply:
Perhaps there's some truth to what you write. Perhaps not. I've been dealing with and baiting online scammers for 8 years, fella. You never had a chance when Bob contacted me. You were in over your head with Bob. And actually, any Kenyan with access to an internet cafe can pretty much know what's going on in the US or anywhere their education takes them. So that argument is a nonstarter.
But I will publish your "confession" in conclusion of this; if "Sam" is innocent, it will be out there on the 'Net. Bob will handle it his way (you can see how Bob handled it HERE).
So much for the parallel to 24. But "DK" et al, should be happy it's me and Bob they took on; a real "Jack Bauer" is reputed to be a whole lot less forgiving...
*post blog note: the scammer 'DK' didn't take well to our not removing the columns from our respective blogs; he posted an attack blog in November '08 that was meant to demean and insult both Bob and myself. Amusingly, his use of it was short-lived, as his introduction of it made not a difference with either of us; we left our blog columns on the episode posted. We're so mean-spirited that way ;-) *

Saturday, October 16, 2010

EduBawts Gawn Wyld-uh

Yawp...the spirit of the Three Stooges is alive and well, and apparently loose in Botland.

I receive a lot of email for furtherance of education. Some of it might even be legit.

But one I just got, kinda tipped the lid off of my cyncism reservoir, and caused a flash flood wall of cynical to rage down the canyons of my credulity.

You read it, and see what you think. And yes, the following is brung to you just as it was cyber brung to me -- uncut and unedited (other than the phone number):

From: Levi
Subj: uniavesityb diplobma (cyncism reservoir flood *buzzzer* already sounding)

Exacly what A GRET IDEA!

Call us by phone (a number with a Delaware area code; yeah, the place where it's the fauxwitch vs the flaming Commie for Senate).

We give a aproach that make it easy for any one with suffcent work experence to recieve a total verifable universty Degree, bachlors, Master or even Doctorat.

Think of whitin four to six days you could be a universty grad. Lot of individal share the same disapoint, they are doing work of the person wich has degree and person who has qualifcation is obtaining all the bucks.

Don't you consider it time you is paid out reasonble payment for level work you doing?

Take oppotunity to generate right move and acguire you due reward. if you more qualify using you knowlege, are missing that peice of document a diplomba that often the passport to succed. Get touch with US soon as spooble and give you work experence the change to ear you higher compensaton you deserve!

Call any time!

In the wake of the devastation that the wall of cynical reservoir water left in my credulity canyon -- tempered by the fact that it's a pretty barren place -- I was momentarily speechless.

It's hard to talk when I just spewed coffee out my nose.

Some moments of recovery later, I dun a wee bit of online research about the number, and found information suggesting that it was, at best, a source of online spamming; at worst, a phishing/ID theft operation. After sending an inquiry off to the State of Delaware's BBB, I found myself in the throes of (de)composition, to an email that tugged at my pant cuff and literally begged for response:

Dear Levi and uniavesityb diplobmans,

Thank you for this kind offer. What kind is still being genetically researched, though the antecedence isn't looking promising, even with a tax cut.

I see by your diction, that you are in Delaware. Joe Biden's from there, so the uncontrolled vowel movements and other cruciverbal faux pas are easily explained. I get that.

I would probably find some curious amusement in having, stuffed and mounted upon my wall, some of your fauxtificates of diplobmas, based not on my academic credentials, but my life experience ones. A Bachlor's Degree in Bachelordom would be nice, albeit redundant: I know I'm a bachelor, and need no stinkin' degree to authenticate it. A Masters in WayWard Storm Chasing would be dubiously prestigious, but I think my photos and anecdotes speak well in and of themselves, asto the (lack of) mastery I have achieved there. A Doctorat in Scambaiting would be a nice conversation piece, but of no comfort to the legions of ethically dysfunctional I have thus baited and infuriated in the past decade.

However, allow me to be of some small, signal service to you: for an that wishes to advertise, market and spam diplobmas, may I make this sincerely-offered, heart-felt suggestion? One meant not to diminish your self-esteem, but to enhance it?


Go ahead, admit it: you feel better about yourselves already, doncha?


Ben Dover
Recipient of your spamological mutilated marketing missive

Of no great surprise, I am still awaiting a response (from anyone). I reckon they can't read a single correctly-spelled word I writ 'em.

So much for their diplobma.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Phartful Scamster

*And yet another of my online job "offer" scambaits from early 2007*
I recently received anuddah one of those online "job offers" to give me the business, from anuddah one of those "artful" scamsters.
She -- Deborah Birdsong (, alleged artist/dealer from New Zealand and living in London, UK, as alleged wife of David Birdsong -- sent me the exact same scam letter, syllable for syllable, as Dan Djurvic from The Artful Scamster, a previous series run herein (I think late '05 into early '06).
In the Dervic version (or however he spelled his faux name), I 'agreed' to his terms, only to start
'upping' my agreed-to percentage in subsequent emails, until he finally gave up on me.
With Birdsong, it's so 'been there, done that'.
Instead, I thought a counter-offer was called for. So I re-wrote her plagiarized letter (ala Joe Biden), and sent it back to see if she would be as willing to reach out to my offer, as she seemed to hope I would be for hers:
Dear Friend,
Dubious day to you. My name is Ukulele Ungabunga, and I am an artist with my wife Paris 'The Vacuous' Motelzix, co-owners of Ukulele's Phart World. I'm originally from Liechtenstein, but presently base in West Vaduz, Liechtenstein, which is across the tracks from East Vaduz, Liechtenstein, and a whole lot classier.
My wife is far too vain and pithy to have kids, so we have one adopted wildebeest, meerkat herd, seven dogs, a dozen cats, a trained botanist for the poison ivy grove, and several hundred hamsters we use to power our home-made generator. It is definitely a full and occasionally dark house when the hamsters get leg cramps.
My chosen phartistic vocation has been phartwork, which I have partaken of since my very youth, giving me nearly 50 years of practical application experience now. I have a pHd in phartology through the University of Flatupus in Ackland, New Zealand. Most of my work is done in abstract concepts like SBD, low tank rumble audio, frenetic music video (the Classical Gas series), and I'm working up a gawdcast on the computer, once I clear a phew hurdles with the UN and American HAZMAT officials.
I've been selling my pharts for the last three years and have found a particularly lucrative market in the UK, where my pharts do a bang(er)-up job. But -- just as you -- I have experienced problems with PAYMENTS, since in the UK they carry out so many transactions with Empire Express Travellers Cheques using British Pound Sterling, and here in Liechtenstein it is most difficult to function with Pound Sterling, when we are ensconced in a sea of rather useless Euros.
So, your offer to give me the business comes as a great opportunity for me to return you the favor with a counterproposal that definitely, I assure you, passes the business smell test: I need you to help me cash my BPS and wire the cash in converted Euros to us in Liechtenstein.
We have a lot of phart-loving customers in the UK who would be forever in your debt with this assistance, and to show you my level of gratitude with your acceptance of the counterdig, I will offer you not 10% commission on each phart sale currency conversion, but 25%. Yes, that's whatever it is in Euros converted back to BPS -- 25% of it -- for every sale of a Ungabunga Phart Original sold. Try to find that in stores or at
You won't.
And if you hurry and call our operators who are standing by now (I think they have piles, which makes standing a touch more comfy, sorta), I will throw in, at no cost to you, a free and one-of-a-kind* Ungabunga Phart Original, made just for you for your kind acceptance of this counterdig.
That's one helluva deal that most of my UK customers would kill to have the opportunity for.
Upon receiving your anticipated acceptance email, I will instruct you on what specific information you must provide me to make the Phart of the century happen for you and yours.
I thank you for your support.
Ukulele Ungabunga, Phartist and CEO
Vaduz, Liechtenstein
(a now defunct email address)
After receiving such a generous counteroffer, you'd a thought Deborah Birdbrain would have jumped at the opportunity for such reciprocity.
Well, I apparently left her speech and syntaxless; her email response was my email, with no reply.
Phfffffffft. No go. And I so wanted her to have that Ungabunga Phart Original, too.
* kind of one-of-a-kind for the moment and menu, but I digress...
** Not really

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gotz No Bananas

The phone rings a lot these days. I reckon it's primarily political stuff. Generally, I let my voice mail message handle things.
Occasionally, I don't. That's when my *bad Skunk* usually kicks in. More on that in a mo'.
Since my phone message of late is a bogus 9-1-1 "number has been changed to a non-published number" message, few messages are left, so it does pretty well when I wish to be left phone alone.
But sometimes, my curiosity gets the better of me. Like the other night. After a long, arduous day at work, I arrive home to a ringing phone. Which stops. And then, a minute later, starts again, perhaps suggesting a persistent telemarketer or bill collector, unknowingly calling a wrong number. I get a lot of those these days.
In the case of the latter, if I answer it, I quickly advise them it's a wrong number, I ain't Quido Sarducci, and that's that.
This particular night, I came home widda bit of a 'tude.
I answer it*. The following is a from-memory transcript:
Me: *in my Chinese voice* So sorry, got no banana.
Whoever: *sound of some kind of call center; voices* Hello?
Me: sorry, got no banana.
Whoever: Uh...hello? I am trying to reach *some spanish surnamed person*
Me: *switching to my really bad Cheech and Chong, hispanic accented voice* No habla gots
Whoever: Uh..sir. I am trying to reach a Jose Rodrigas...
Me: *maintaining the hispanic accent* No habla gots banana.
Whoever: Sir, I don't have time..
Me: No habla time telling banana.
Whoever: Sir! I want to speak to..
Me: No habla time telling banana.
Whoever: *speaking to someone in background*...Sir, just answer my question. Are you..
Me: No habla banana que.
Whoever: *sits and listens for a moment*...Are you Jose Rodrigas?
Me: No habla Rodrigas banana que.
Whoever: *raises his voice* SIR, THIS IS NOT..
*Sound of phone hanging up on other end*
I can't speak for this Jose Rodrigas dude, but the caller, he gots no baw-nan-naaaaaa.
* Disclaimer: no dolphins, spotted owls or dodos were harmed during this phone conversation. Your results may vary. Platypus farts substituted for espanoel are perfectly non sequitur. 2-for-1 specials not applicable. Dealer prep and options extra, see your hoax and change dealer for nothing that matters here. Side affects during such calls may include ear wax curdling, collosal conglomerated masses of solidified mucus leaks, hair on one's teeth and persistent arm pit flatulence. If you experience any of the aforementioned, hang up and call America's Got Talent to request an audition.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

From Russia...And Back

*A classic during the height of my dealings with Russian bride scamstresses in 2007, and a lesson in how to start and stop a relationship in one easy email*

Y' ain't supposed ta woik dis way. But it dun went and did, anyhoot.

Somehow, I got me on one of them Russian bride online sites. Danged if I know how; the emails just started showing up. So when I firstI send one tongue-in-cheek reply to Ms Russian Bleenie Stuffer of 2007, I seem to have opened the bleenie-stuffing flood gates.

Oh well. As I seem to have opened the bleenie stuffing gates with one reply, I reckon I can close 'em, too. Here are three of the more recent 'applicants' to my profile (one I've never seen, or have a clue what it says).

Now, I didn't know what my original online screen name on the profile was; but when I replied to the first one as Le Skunk de Polecat, it apparently stuck. Thus, witness the following triad of responses to my latest three eager Russian brides-to-(not) be:

First, a short and sweet introductory letter from 'Sweet Lana':

Dear Le Skunk de Polecat,

I'm waiting for your call...

Uh, Sweet Lana -- brevity is her forte -- as she's pictured h'yar as the one in pink with strategic or unfortunate hand placement, depending on your outlook or whatever email program you run.

My opportunistic response:

Well, horsefeathers!

Here you are, all set and ready for my call, even ready for a cable hook-up. And here I am, all outta nickels!

Ain't that just the curd and way of it?

Le Skunk de Polecat

Next up -- and a touch more expansive -- was the flaming redhead, Elena:

Hello, dear Le Skunk de Polecat! How are you?

I hope very well!! I?m very sociable person and that?s why I have a lot of friends. The way I spend my free time depends on my mood. I like to travel and learn the world round me, make new friends. I?m full of energy I like to dance very much and much tine I spend practicing sport. I like to cook very much and I put a peace of my soul into every dish (*
TOING*), that?s why the meals I cook are so tasty. I like theatres and museums, often go to different concerts and exhibitions. Do you like outdoors?

I hope you are tender, kind, careful and loving man. You, like me, love nature, good rest and always think about your family. I love children and I want you to be ready to start strong and friendly family, and what about you (dang..she's actually gonna ask me after that?). I?m hardwork and live good life. this is want I want also for my future family. You must be the best example for our children! Write me! Kiss to you!

I was once told about being blindsided when I least expected it, but being trampled and stampeded isn't the same thang. But I'll go ahaid and base my ree-sponse on one aspect of her resume:

Awwww...Elena, you blowd me a kiss. And spit all over me. Can I have a towel?

As for tender, they don't come any more tender than me; yep, at 5 feet tall and 400 lbs, I am as soft, tender and rolypoly as they come or breath hard. Bearing that in mind, it is good that you cook much good. I eat much gooder. I eat much bad. I just friggin' eat. I wish be biggest bleenie stuffer this side of Kursk. And yes, I do like the outdoors; one day, I hope to find a wheel barrel that will carry my bulk out there.

As for to set good example for "our kids", first we have to play some serious hide the bleenie, then maybe we have some kids for me to set good examples for. Of what, remains to be seen, along with parts of me I haven't seed since 300 pounds came and long since got overlapped by more.

I best say now you get the top when it comes to bleenie stuffing, 'cuz otherwise you'll look like a redheaded possum on a Mississippi highway in July. Which could be good widde right fixin's, but I digress.

BTW...dye your hair. I hate redheads.

Cain't wait for what you'll blow me next, hooba dooba.

Le Skunk de Polecat

I think I hear a few disgusted *oinks* out in the audience...

Don't worry; I don't improve a lick (pun intended) with Tatiana (the other one in pink with her hair up):

Dear Le Skunk de Polecat...

Requirements?! How can I know what are you look like?! I just know that you are here, so close and so far in geography, and I?m sure we will recognize each other. The main thing to be as we are, to be natural, to trust your heart and please do not forget that I?m waiting for you!!

Dunno where she got this requirements thing, but I'm betting she ain't waiting for me or my 'requirements' after this reply:


You hotzi totzie, multi-syllable wench! Requirements, reschmirements! What are requirements, but verbiage that gets in the way of really hot pig sex? Of course, I understand you wish to know my looks. So I tell you, my little light at the end of Chernobyl: I am tall -- over 7 feet -- and weigh a robust 135 lbs. I'd break that into kilos and centimeters, but danged if I didn't complete my third grade cyphers, so it's hard for me to make metric. But that ain't the kind of hard I reckon you have in mind, my radioactive steppes blossom, hubba hubba!

In not-so-short, I look like a mix of Yao Ming, Johnny Depp, and Twiggy. Throw in Mr. Potato Head for slaps and giggles, and that's me all over, especially after I stepped on a land mine.

Now, geography...what IS geography? Two spots on a map of the world. It's inches, baby. Inches. Not like me, but I digress.

Tell me more about your form as if it's a map of the world, and I'll tell you how good global warming could be wid me, badda bing! We're raise more than temperatures doing the bleenie hokey pokey, Tatiana!

Write me more about how you wanna be my Mary Ann on Gilligan's Gulag! Won't be no Minnows in that lagoon! Hooha!

Le Skunk de Polecat

In the paraphrased and revamped words of a character from a 1960s John Wayne movie, "I'll say one thing for that long-winded jackanapes...he does know the short way to stop a relationship".

And the lack of response from all three of my Russian bleenie stuffettes proved that! Hooba dooba.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

(What) William Tell...

Some folks are ready for a call at any time, and in any place.
Some folks, ain't.
Earlier this summer, you recall I had a round with a scammer purporting to be a US Secret Service agent, Hector Graig (The Wild Wild...East? and three part You Ain't That Secret), and his Ohio-based accomplice, William O.
You'll remember how I had some fun with William, by sending him an inauthentic-looking 'certified check' via USPS.
He and his chums weren't amused.
And while I was able to play with them a bit more -- before they finally quit threatening me and stopped responding to my email taunts -- I found a use for them one more time. At least.
I hope William enjoyed it. From what I gathered from (allegedly) Burkina Faso-based scammer Mikel Luga, William didn't.
Here's a synopsis of Luga's opening gambit:
Yada, yada, yada.
On this occasion, I didn't reply using any character name; I just sent back a quick Oh hell, why not? I've got nuthin' better to do. Go ahead, gimme da business.
A couple days later -- Mikel musta had a good email turnout -- he sent me one of the usual applications to start the process, requesting my name, full address, occupation, position in my place of work, personal telephone number, age, a secure email address, and finally, a copy of my "paspot" (his spelling).
My character Jack N. Ewehoff, doesn't have a paspot; but my character U. R. Phulovit does ;-)
It was then that one of those ear-splitting *TOING*s reverberated through the canyon betwixt my ears.
I remembered that alleged Secret Service agent Hector Graig sent me *his* paspot as proof of who he claimed he wuz; but also that his friend, William -- recipient of that luverly *certified check* -- sent me a photo ID of his, too.
*Jeopardy theme music, whilst I ponder my options*
So I sent back to Mikel Luga the requested if I were William. Including my phone number. And these specific instructions:
Please make careful note that the email address I am writing to you from, is my work email, and it is NOT secure to continue this correspondence from. Please use this email address for all secure communications (it was the one used by Hector/William).
Then came the creme de la creme: I would reckon that some telephone communications are necessary to set the table for our business relationship. Since I work late afternoons in my job (as a turkey inseminator for a poltroon farm in Ohio), it is necessary that you call me between midnight and 3am. To allow me to know it is you calling, please call once, let the phone ring three times, then hang up, and call back immediately.
Of course, I had included the required phone number (of my former scammer), for snorts and guffaws.
The next day, I had this email from my aggrieved business partner, Mikel Luga:
When I got done chuckling, I provided this:
I was going to ask the same thing, fella: I sat up from midnight until 0330 -- I gave you an extra half hour -- and you never called. If that is your story, then it is obvious to me that you dailed the wrong number. SO...tonight...because I am off to work...try it again. This time, call me at my home number between 1:30am and 3:30am. Call once (and I repeated the number for his benefit) and let it ring three times, hang up, and then call back immediately. I will be there and ready for your call.
Could I be so lucky as to have one scammer call and wake up another scammer in the wee hours, two mornings running?
Three days ago, I got my answer to that from Mikel:
From the viewpoint of Mikel Luga and William, I simply have to agree with that. ;-)

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Dating Baiting II

A golden opportunity goes...really weird.
I guaranteed it ;-)
A few weeks ago, I get this email from Asabi Gold Company:
ASABI ASCON SARL & COOPERATIVE WEND PANGA are pleased to make this offer of AU metal Gold under the penalty of perjury and with full cooperate and legal responsibility to the following terms and conditions.
1. Product: AU Metal (Gold)
2. Origin: Burkina-Faso West Africa
3. Type: Alluvial
4. Purity: 22.5 Carat or 92%
5. Quantity: 100-1000 kilos
6. Price: $18,500 per kg
One representative of the buyer is suppose to come down to Ouagadougou, BURKINA-FASO for the inspection and random sampling of our Gold Bars. Or makes plans for the Gold to be ship to his/her destination. We look forward to establish a long lasting relation with you.
I am expecting your reply soonest with your personal information.
I am Mr. Sulaimon Basheer
Marketing Manager
Asabi Gold Company
So I responded in the guise of Jack N. Ewehoff, as President and CEO of my company, Painful Rectal Itch Novelties and Games, UnInc. As usual, they didn't read my information closely; it was enough that I had responded with what they took to be affirmation of their effort to give me the business.
As it began, I was expected to travel to Burkina Faso, thereat to sign ze papers, affirming our deal. And initially, Jack N. Ewehoff was more than willing to meet that expectation. Until, that is, Jack examined closely the cost associated with a flight to Burkina Faso.
Not wanting to aggravate Jack's "medical condition" from too many hours in the air (bloviating anal shingles), Jack begged off flying to Burkina Faso, and instead asked if there was an alternative to his travelling there.
As Mr. Spock said, "there are always alternatives". And Mr. Basheer was ever so quick to offer one up (as I just knowd he would be): the hiring of a legal representative there in Ouagadougou, a Mr. Amadou Diallo, who -- for the Western Unioned sum of only $1,500 Euros, would be more than happy to represent me "profesional and relayable, 100% risk fee".
I and my medical condition were comforted. After some back and forth, it was agreed that the next Monday, three weeks into the first contact of Jack by Asabi, would be the day to pay the necessary fees, via Western Union.
On the agreed-to day, I sent Mr. Diallo not just his $1,500 Euros; I sent him $14,500 Euros (in the form of my deer butt doorbell Euro bill of dubious antecedence, and non-negotiability emanating therefrom) via email, hoping that "since my secretary couldn't break the bill, he'd be kind enough to do it for me, and wire me back the change".
I mean, scammers on Craigslist do this kind of thing all the time. I thought that made it okay.
I didn't get the reaction I expected. Instead, I got this from the legal representative of Asabi Gold Company, Burkina-Faso (uh, without the ** censoring):
f**k your mother
To say the least, Jack was rather nonplussed. So much so, he responded thus:
Let me get this straight: you want a date with my mother? Really?
Apparently, my Asabi scammer was just as nonplussed as Jack was:
f**k you and your mother
Jack remained nonplussed:
Whoa now, dude. You wanna try to bang my mother after some online romancing, I reckon that's between her and you (her name is Jacyln Ewehoff); but you wanna bang ME as well? WTF, seriously, dude: are you bisexual, or just uninhibited? Do local chimpanzee clans have a rape crisis center in your name?
Nonplussed became the order of the emails:
f**k you asshole. stop email us.
Oh, so now you DON'T want to bang my mother, just me, eh? You sick bastard. I'll bet next you'll wanna do my pet camel, Horace?
f**k your camel. shut up and stop email.
Okay, now we're getting somewhere. You wanna do my pet camel? Horace is preferable to Sun Maid brand dates, and flowers. Then, maybe, you can try some slap and tickle. But that's between you and Horace.
It's really a good thing Jack N. Ewehoff doesn't really have a pet camel named Horace; 'cuz Horace would have felt stood up, since Basheer/Diallo finally stopped hitting on the family Ewehoff.
Maybe they'd do better on

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