previous  |  next

I enjoyed your recent verification massage!

The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!


Here is an email I received a few days ago EXACTLY as it appeared in my inbox.

[begin email] 


Attn: webmail Owner


We just confirmed that you have not upgrade to the new web-mail version. That is why we are sending you this massage to upgrade your account now. This is because we are preventing your web-mail from closure. And also we have notice that your mail have been used for send spam mail to other mail. To prevent your account from this you will have to send a verification massage so that we will confirm from our computer system that you are the rightfully owner of this mail and also to upgrade your account to the version. To upgrade your account you have to send us the following information so that we can upgrade

as soon as possible.



Email User name :

EMAIL Password :

Last login date:



Warning!!! if you refuse to send this information to us within (1) weeks of receiving this warning you will lose your account. Warning Code: PX2G99AAJ

Thank you for using webmail


NOTE: This message is authorize by the webmail Project email account

protector unit.Notification message will be send back to you after verifying your account before account could be reset. All right reserve.


 [end email]


Priceless, don't you think? With such great material practically falling into my lap (pause) top, I was inspired to compose a response!


Dear Mr. or Ms. Email Scam Artist,

       Thank you for your recent message. Today is your lucky day! For while I'm afraid that better judgment, and my fortunate familiarity with the English language dictate that I not comply with your request for my personal and confidential information, I do feel compelled, to offer YOU something quite valuable in my response!

First, it is obvious to me that either English is not your native language, or you simply did not take the lessons in elementary school English as seriously as you should have. If the former, then by no means do I wish to embarrass or belittle you. If the latter, while understandable, it is not forgivable considering the goals of your business. In either case, I suggest to you that the response rate of your recent email blast could be greatly improved with some modification of its content. Please accept the following critique.


1. Your tone is not professional

First of all, your email lacks the standard business tone. It jumps from simplistic to informal, to hostile and even downright threatening.

For instance, “If you refuse…” is a very strong, intimidating and threatening phrase usually reserved for collection agencies, the Internal Revenue Service, and certain LAPD cops. Threats for failure to comply with a request for what is an optional upgrade just don’t pass the “appropriate use of force” test of business communication. Be businesslike, yet courteous in your written communication.


2. Misspellings

Many of your words are misspelled. For example, while the difference of one character may seem negligible to you, for those who speak English, there is, in fact, a significant difference between a message and a massage. Trust me, the two are not interchangeable, and someone who is promised one, only to receive the other could be a. Delightfully surprised by the unexpected, b. rudely offended by the inappropriate, or c. sadly disappointed by an unfulfilled expectation. In any event, while it might be fun to consider what exactly a “verification massage” entails (Who’s doing the massaging?? What exactly is being verified???), at best it’s a confusing concept. Misspellings detract from your business credibility.



3. Bad grammar

Your sentence structure is at times simplistic and filled with grammatically faulty construction.   It suffers from poor subject-verb agreement (“your mail have been”), incorrect conjugation and persistent failure to use past participle tense (“have not upgrade,” “is authorize by”); interchanging plural with singular (“1 weeks”), among many other glaring violations that defy appropriate categorization. Furthermore, legitimate business writers don’t start sentences with “And!” Yes, poor grammar is the kiss of death for business literature.



4. Lack of punctuation

Those pesky little dots and dashes in English are such a nuisance, aren’t they? Commas, semicolons, colons, periods—who has the time to learn them all? I can certainly relate. However, these little characters are not cosmetic accessories to be donned or discarded based on your sense of fashion, personal taste or mood. The mean something! They help with the flow of the idea and are as necessary for communication as oil and gas are for the operation of your vehicle! Use them!



5. Inappropriate capitalization

       Proper names like “WebMail” should be capitalized. See previous critique as a similar reminder that capitalization is not based on whim or mood, but on specific rules.



In our increasingly-tech savvy and internet-based world, your legitimacy as a business, your rate of consumer response, and your brand identity all hinge upon how effectively you communicate with your prospects, especially by email.

I suggest that taking the time to be more conscientious about your spelling, grammar and overall tone, might actually result in higher profits for your scam, er I mean business. With that in mind, I believe my suggestions and advice may be of significant monetary value to you in your endeavors. I have, therefore, attached an invoice in the amount of $149.50 for my proof-reading, translation and editing services. Once this payment is received, I shall send you the fully corrected, guaranteed more effective version of your original email for your use. 

Please make check or money order payable to “Walt Goodridge.” If you prefer to pay by credit card, please provide your credit card number, expiration date, CVV code and billing address to me by email at your earliest convenience. Refusal to do so may result in severe karmic consequences.


Yours truly,


Walt F.J. Goodridge

English as s Second Language Coach on Saipan

[end of correspondence)



So, what have we learned today, boys and girls?


1. There are many ways to tell that an email is fraudulent. You can add poor grammar to that list. I have NEVER encountered a scam email that was well-written!


2.  You should, or should have paid attention in school. It can earn you more money, and help you hang on to the money you have!


3. Walt offers reasonably-priced proofing and editing services (though he only works with legitimate, well-intentioned, ethical, non-environmentally-destructive businesses.)


4. Yes, this email was sent to me with a fraudulent intent. However, if all goes well and we find the silver lining, the teacher in me can be rewarded, the scammer can improve his (or her) English commnication skills. Everyone wins! It just goes to prove that even a “verification massage” can have a happy ending!

Note: Fans and followers of the book, Jamaican on Saipan, may order a copy on

Note: Ever wanted to direct your friends and family to a set of websites that revealed the best things about Saipan? Do what I do: send them to!



Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!--Walt

Send article suggestions, entrepreneur nominations and feedback about this article to

previous  |  next