There’s Something About Being Quarantined for Too Long

PG has been receiving inquiries from prospective clients about publishing contracts from various organizations with which PG is not familiar.

He won’t name names because he has only seen a couple of the contracts and not done any checking on any (except to confirm that a notorious vanity press is still in operation).

Like (he expects) many of the visitors to TPV, PG has also seen an uptick in spammy email offers.

PG needs to do a content analysis to learn a bit more, but he wonders if there’s a style guide somewhere that is used by many for whom English is a (distant) second language for the purpose of creating fraudulent-sounding emails.

However, short of a more in-depth review, here are a few style elements that show up in PG’s inbox on a regular basis:

  • The author claims to be a ministry-level official in the government of an African nation
  • The Minister is telling me that I have qualified to receive a lot of money from some government fund
  • Sometimes the money is sitting in an Unclaimed Property fund
  • The general style of the email is quite obsequious and archaically formal, “My Dear Kind Sir or Madam”, etc.

PG doesn’t believe that even the most credulous among us deserves to be defrauded of money he/she has rightfully obtained. However, he wonders if someone who is victimized by this sort of approach might not be in need of a court-appointed conservator to manage the individual’s financial affairs to protect the individual from being financially victimized.

Postscript regarding Vanity Presses and Other Occupants of Publishing’s Swamps:

  1. Don’t pay money to a “publisher” or “press” to publish your book
  2. Always do a series of online searches based on the name of any organization or person who solicits you for money to assist you in publishing your book.
    • You might structure some of your searches as follows: “Shady Publisher” fraud, “Shady Publisher” crook, “Shady Publisher” cheat, etc., etc., etc.
    • Look for a website for the Publisher. Don’t necessarily believe what it says, but see if it looks like one for a major publisher. See if the site lists any alternate names, imprints, etc. the Publisher uses and do all the searches described in this list on those alternates.
    • Do a lot of searches about the Publisher, not just a few.
    • If the Publisher has a physical location listed on its website, Google “Better Business Bureau” and the city named in the physical location. Once you find the local Better Business Bureau (it may be in a larger city near the city where the Publisher is located) use its website to search for the name of the Publisher.
    • Go to several websites where authors gather to talk shop and ask whether anyone has heard about the Publisher
  3. Go to Writer Beware© and look for any mentions of the Publisher. Make sure you don’t miss the Thumbs Down Publishers List and look around there.
  4. Go to Amazon’s Books section and search for the Publisher’s name. If you don’t find it, consider its absence to be a giant red flag with spotlights shining on it. If you do find the Publisher’s name, look at the Sales Rank of the books it has published.

3 thoughts on “There’s Something About Being Quarantined for Too Long”

  1. There is a school of thought that says that the language you mention is used deliberately in order to weed out respondents that would not follow the proposed scheme to it’s ultimate payoff. That is to say, if the language used were perfect and believable, then the correspondents that it attracted might follow through, but only halfway. Instead, poor language eliminates those respondents, leaving only those who are gullible enough to fall all the way.

    Confidence tricks like these actually prey not just stupidity but particularly on greed. You are told that a large sum of money will be put under your control, out of which you will distribute some and keep a smaller portion. Many who fall for this assume they will be able to trick the trickster and keep the large amount. Greed drives the response.

    There are a wide variety of these that rely on bank float. A sum is advanced via check for some reason – car purchase, apartment fee, even (ahem) legal settlements. The respondent is requested to remit some portion of the sum right away using an electronic funds mechanism that affords no recourse. A month later the check is refused. As you can see here, this has been going on for a long time…

    https://nwsidebar.wsba.org/2014/11/18/beware-bad-check-scams/

    https://www.attorneyatwork.com/bad-check-frauds/

    The ones I detest the most. (I used to investigate these) are “Mystery shopper” scams that target marginalized people. You are offered a “job” that involves investigating the money transfer desk at some retail store. You are sent a check for $1000, told to wire $800 of the money somewhere, answer a questionnaire about the service, and keep $200. In the end, the check is bad and the bank empties your account entirely and duns you for the loss. This sort of thing happens to single moms in desperate straits. I, for one, would like to see it in a book, or multiple books, because it’s visibility needs to be raised.

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