‘we found ourselves tied up in a room containing a number of weapons and men in leather gimp masks’

My old email address has pretty much sunk under the weight of the spam it attracts and so, of necessity, I’ve become something of a connoisseur of the 419 letter, the literary genre of our time. What’s really interesting about email spam is how it usually accords to a strict moral economy. On the one hand, the recipient is made to feel that, by responding, they’re performing a deed of unsurpassed generosity (helping the ill, rescuing an orphan, etc); on the other, the letter almost invariably invites the respondent to engage in explicit chicanery, by helping themselves to money stolen from an impoverished state or claiming a prize that isn’t theirs or whatever). In that sense, 419 letters are kind of like medieval morality plays, in which Messrs Gullible, Vain and Greedy march inexorably to their date with Mr Fraud.

That’s all by way of introduction to the remarkable email from this morning, purportedly from Jack Bauer. Yes, Jack Bauer. One presumes the scammers to be operating on the not unreasonable basis that anyone who engages in correspondence with a TV character is quite likely to be willing to pay out huge sums of money to strangers. Anyway, read on for account of Mr Bauer’s adventures with gimps, secret treasures and the philosopher John Locke.

Dear friend,

You probably dont know me, but my name is Jack Bauer and I am writing to you from a secret location in the United States. I can not disclose too much information right now, as this is the reason I have contacted you today. I am currently in hiding, and wanted by a number of men. But please, let me tell you how I managed to get into this situation.

It was an average day in the police force, and me and a colleague were inspecting an abandoned warehouse. We’d been given a tip-off that it was being used as a headquarters for smuggling adult dvd’s and toys. Whilst looking around the area, we were attacked from behind and knocked unconscious.

After coming round, we found ourselves tied up in a room containing a number of weapons and men in leather gimp masks. We were forced to tell them what we knew about the operation, otherwise they were to kill us. We refused, and were injected with a strange green liquid. Again, we went into an unconscious state, and awoke to find that the men had genetically replicated our faces onto themselves. They had framed us, and the whole world though that me and my colleague had become criminals. They left us for dead. However, using a hairclip and a nearby buttplug, we managed to free ourselves from the chairs they left us in.

We are now wanted men. We have had our accounts closed, our credit cards wiped and our wives and children moved to Wales – the only safe place in the world. Our only chance of freedom is a good friend, a scientist named John Locke who is based in West Africa. He has agreed to use his blood analysis machine, the BAM500, to prove that we are innocent. However, we are stranded in the US and need $4000 to get there. If proven innocent, we are guaranteed $12,500,000USD as a settlement fee, which we will give you 30% of if you help us. I will need the following:

Marital status:
Blood type:

Please, if you are willing to help then email back as soon as possible, or contact John Locke. If you need his email I can provide you with it.

Please hurry as there is not much time,

God bless

Jack Bauer
Contact me here only: privateline123@yahoo.cn

Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland.

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