With one of my email addresses slowly sinking under a tide of scam emails, I’ve come to appreciate the literary possibilities of the form. So it was nice to read, via Boing Boing, The Hobbit rendered as a 419 letter:
Dear MR BAGGINS, Fellow Conspirator,
I am Thorin Oakenshield, descendant of Thrain the Old and grandson of Thror who was King under the Mountain. I am writing you to discuss our plans, our ways, means, policy and devices for rescuing our treasure from the dragon Smaug.
During the reign of Thror our kingdom was a prosperous one. Kings used to send for our smiths, and reward even the least skillful most richly. Fathers would beg us to take their sons as apprentices, and pay us handsomely, especially in food-supplies, which we never bothered to grow or find for ourselves. Altogether those were good days for us, and the poorest of us had money to spend and to lend, and leisure to make beautiful things just for the fun of it, not to speak of the most marvellous and magical toys, the like of which is not to be found in the world now-a-days.
You can read the rest of it here.
Still, I don’t think it compares with this one.
I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to email@example.com so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson
Here’s another classic from a few years back:
Subject: FW: IMMEDIATE ATTENTION NEEDED: HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL
URGENT ASSISTANCE – FROM USA
IMMEDIATE ATTENTION NEEDED : HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL
FROM: GEORGE WALKER BUSH
202.456.1414 / 202.456.1111
Dear Sir / Madam,
I am GEORGE WALKER BUSH, son of the former president of the United States of America George Herbert Walker Bush, and currently serving as President of the United States of America. This letter might surprise you because we have not met neither in person nor by correspondence. I came to know of you in my search for a reliable and reputable person to handle a very confidential business transaction, which involves the transfer of a huge sum of money to an account requiring maximum confidence.
I am writing you in absolute confidence primarily to seek your assistance in acquiring oil funds that are presently trapped in the republic of iraq. My partners and I solicit your assistance in completing a transaction begun by my father, who has long been actively engaged in the extraction of petroleum in the United States of America, and bravely served his country as director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency.
In the decade of the nineteen-eighties, my father, then vice-president of the United States of America, sought to work with the good offices of the President of the Republic of Iraq to regain lost oil revenue sources in the neighboring islamic republic of Iran. This unsuccessful venture was soon followed by a falling-out with his Iraqi partner, who sought to acquire additional oil revenue sources in the neighboring emirate of Kuwait, a wholly-owned U.S.-British subsidiary.
My father re-secured the petroleum assets of Kuwait in 1991 at a cost of sixty-one billion u.s. dollars ($61,000,000,000). Out of that cost, thirty-six billion dollars ($36,000,000,000) were supplied by his partners in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other persian gulf monarchies, and sixteen billion dollars ($16,000,000,000) by German and Japanese partners. But my father’s former Iraqi business partner remained in control of the republic of Iraq and its petroleum reserves.
My family is calling for your urgent assistance in funding the removal of the President of the Republic of Iraq and acquiring the petroleum assets of his country, as compensation for the costs of removing him from power. unfortunately, our partners from 1991 are not willing to shoulder the burden of this new venture, which in its upcoming phase may cost the sum of 100 billion to 200 billion dollars ($100,000,000,000 – $200,000,000,000), both in the initial acquisition and in long-term management.
Without the funds from our 1991 partners, we would not be able to acquire the oil revenue trapped within Iraq. That is why my family and our colleagues are urgently seeking your gracious assistance. Our distinguished colleagues in this business transaction include the sitting vice-president of the United States of America, Richard Cheney, who is an original partner in the Iraq venture and former head of the Halliburton oil company, and Condoleeza Rice, whose professional dedication to the venture was demonstrated in the naming of a Chevron oil tanker after her.
I would beseech you to transfer a sum equaling ten to twenty-five percent (10-25 %) of your yearly income to our account to aid in this important venture. The internal revenue service of the United States of America will function as our trusted intermediary. I propose that you make this transfer before the fifteenth (15th) of the month of April.
I know that a transaction of this magnitude would make anyone apprehensive and worried. But I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day. A bold step taken shall not be regretted, I assure you. Please do be informed that this business transaction is 100% legal. If you do not wish to co-operate in this transaction, please contact our intermediary representatives to further discuss the matter.
I pray that you understand our plight. My family and our colleagues will be forever grateful. Please reply in strict confidence to the contact numbers below.
Sincerely with warm regards,
George Walker Bush
And then, of course, there’s this.