it’s amazing what you find in the spam folder

I've just spent an entertaining 10 minutes or so clearing out my spam folder. I don't go there often, but a student had asked why I hadn't answered their email & since I hadn't actually received one in the in-box, I thought I'd best check spam. (And there it was. General hint to students: really idiosyncratic email addresses will land you in spam, from time to time. Also, they can look a bit unprofessional on a CV.)

Apart from the amazing offers of money (if I'd only send a little money – a 419 scam – or alternatively my bank account details, plus PIN, I could be a millionaire! And retire to travel the world!!!), and people trying to sell me pipes and ball bearings, there seem to be an awful lot of people who are starved of social interactions and, dare I say it, romance? How else to explain the pitiful cries of Olga and Anna, who are 'nice girls' from Russia, just wanting a little companionship? They seem (from the subject lines of their emails) to be quite hurt that I haven't responded to their earlier pleas for the chance to get to know me better.

But it's slightly creepy to see so many people with such an interest in the quality of my love life!

And to those who asked (so many of you!) if I am the caring, tender gentleman of their dreams – ladies (if ladies you are), how wrong you are!

But more seriously, the sad thing is that someone, somewhere, will be responding to these scammers, and probably losing money – and equally worrying, potentially becoming subject to identity theft as well. A good rule of thumb here is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! The next time you get one of these emails, check what has to say on the subject, or visit the 419Eater archive.

But don't send money, your bank details, your photo. Because you won't find love, or money. You'll just make some nasty unscrupulous people even better off than they already are.

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