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Lauren Beukes

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Fwd: ASSASIN I HAVE BEEN PAYED TO TERMINATE YOU.

In Zoo City, Zinzi writes 419 scams to pay off her drug debt to a crime syndicate. For a while I was collecting scams as research. I spent a lot of time on 419eater.com and scamwarners.com reading up on the sheer variety of scams, spoke to the detectives at the South African Police Services 419 unit and harvested every scam that hit my inbox*. I read up on romance scams and charity scams and mystery shopper scams and the particularly insidious 419 recovery scam (have you lost money to a 419 scammer? We can help you get it back, for a small administrative fee), from the blatantly obvious, rife with typos to brilliantly imaginative missives. I remixed all of them into a short story I did for Touch: An Anthology of Contact (Zebra Press) and spun out my research into two feature articles for Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan. I thought I’d seen ‘em all.

Yesterday my friends at The Book Lounge sent me this, from a courteous female assassin called Lynne.

—————

From: Lynne McPherson

Date: 18 December 2010 13:54

Subject: ASSASIN I HAVE BEEN PAYED TO TERMINATE YOU.

To:

This is the only way I could contact you for now, I want you to be very careful about this  and keep this secret with you until I make out space for us to see. You have no need of knowing who I am or where I am from. I know this may sound very surprising to you but it’s the situation. I have been paid some ransom in advance to terminate you with some reasons listed to me by my employer. It’s someone I believe you call a friend; I have followed you closely for a while now and have seen that you are innocent of the accusations he leveled against you. Do not contact the police or try to send a copy of this to them, because if you do, I will know, and I might be pushed to do what I have been paid to do. Besides, this is the first time I turn out to be a betrayer in my job. I took pity on you, that is why I have made up my mind to help you if you are willing to help yourself.

Now listen, I will arrange for us to see face to face, but before that, I need $9,000. I will come to your home or you determine where you wish we meet; I repeat, do not arrange for the cops and if you play hard to get, it will be extended to your family. Do not set any camera to cover us or set up any tape to record our conversation; my employer is in my control now. Payment details will be provided for you to make a part payment of $3,000 first, which will serve as guarantee that you are ready to co-operate, then I will post a copy of the video tape that contains his request for me to terminate you which will be enough evidence for you to take any legal action against him before he employs another person for the job. You will pay the balance of $3,000 once you receive the tape.

Warning; do not contact the police, make sure you stay indoors once it is 7.30pm every day  until this whole thing is sorted out, if you neglect any of these warnings, you will have yourself to blame. You do not have much time, so get back to me immediately

Note: I will advise you keep this to yourself alone, not even a friend or a family member should know about it because it could be one of them.

Reply Me To My Personal Email: [redacted]

————

Note some scammers do threaten violence, usually after you’ve caught on, a couple of payment in, after having disclosed all your personal information. When you refuse to pay any more, they’ll retaliate with a (usually*8) empty threat of “we know where you live, pay us not to come and hurt you”. This is the first time I’ve seen the jump straight to the threat of violence.

(* Please don’t send me any more unless it’s really, really way out there like this one, I’ve probably seen it and my research is done)

(** Mostly that’s because they’re probably in another country, although syndicates do operate from South Africa. And it’s easier and less messy to catch another mugu via email than actually resort to violence. That’s a whole level up – although there have been several 419-related kidnappings and murders, it’s not standard procedure.)

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://liesljobson.bookslive.co.za" rel="nofollow">Liesl</a>
    Liesl
    December 19th, 2010 @10:20 #
     
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    Dear Friend,

    I have means of exposing how you became BOOK SA author of the year. I have been watching you from the other side of my Nikon. The true underbelly of literary genius could be disclosed for all to see. And copy. Be afraid; be very afraid. Or pay $9, 000 into my bank account and the secret will remain forever with me.

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    December 19th, 2010 @11:15 #
     
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    Dear Liesl-Assassin,

    I'm afraid you have mistaken me. I am an author and thus completely unable to come up with a figure remotely resembling $9000. But I could write you a 9000 word story?

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    December 19th, 2010 @12:16 #
     
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    Liesl and Lauren, you have me HOWLING. Brava.

    Why don't scammers use proofreaders? This has always puzzled me. I have difficulty accepting that the Chairman of Barclays Bank, UK, would start a letter "Deer Freind".

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    December 19th, 2010 @13:45 #
     
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    Also: not very good at maths. See above regarding first payment and balance settlement.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    December 20th, 2010 @02:29 #
     
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    "Lynne McFearsome?" he shuddered.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    December 21st, 2010 @00:13 #
     
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    AaaAArghrnnnnng. Punny Richard is back.

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  • <a href="http://tiahbeautement.typepad.com/quotidian/" rel="nofollow">tiah</a>
    tiah
    December 21st, 2010 @06:13 #
     
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    Helen, maybe they are basing their letters on SA banks. FNB sent us something so bad that I freaked and reported it. It was ligit.

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  • <a href="http://liesljobson.bookslive.co.za" rel="nofollow">Liesl</a>
    Liesl
    December 21st, 2010 @13:58 #
     
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    @ Lauren, kind of you to offer that 9000 word story, but perhaps I'll go to work trying to get that $9000 out of Damon instead.

    @Helen, if you don't stop banging that old everybody-needs-an-editor-drum I shall start trying to work $9000 out of you too.

    @Richard, if you don't come up with a better pun than that I'll be after €9000 from you, which, at last look would be worth a scad more than the dollars.

    I'm tired of being an extortionist. It's too much hard work. Much easier to be the Grinch at Christmas.

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