Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Spoonful of Sugar

This morning I received the following message in my e-mail inbox.


I am miss Becky Ginger, 20 years old from ivory coast. daughter of mrs Sandra Ginger the Secretary Wife and Personal Assistant to former ivory coast president. I have 8.5 million USD which was made by my mother before she died in oct 2004 which is left in a suspence account in a bank here in my country. And i have promise God to make donation of 2 million USD to orphanage, and other money will go to investment. I seek your permision to remmit this amount into your account so that i could come to your country for investment and to further my studies. I have accepted to offer you 20% of the total sum for your desire to assist me. Please, i humbly seek for your assistance.
Best Regards. Miss Becky Ginger.

I've been interested in the narrative conventions of African spam letters for a while. It's intriguing to see how this one plays upon several credulous audiences simultaneously and mixes the standard get-rich-quick 419 scam with a tale of a helpless ingénue worthy of Cherry Blossoms and a philanthropic pitch like that of groups that include the Christian Children's Fund. Unlike another stock character in these letters, the widow of an African strongman seeking a financial partner, this character appeals to patriarchal sentimentality with a tale of orphans and orphanages straight out of Charles Dickens.

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