the discourse of spam

In The Sociolinguistics of Globalization, Jan Blommaert offers an interesting analysis of those emails we have all received from lawyers offering to transfer the funds of our long-lost uncles to us. “Globalized genres of fraud” he calls them.

He outlines how these hoax emails comply with a range of linguistic and discursive features, from a technical, businesslike subject containing number references, an announcement of the problem and the procedure to be complied with, requests for confidentiality, and appropriate terms of address, closing formulae, etc.

The problem with most of the emails he analysed is that although they perfectly adhere to broad genre patterns, they struggle with basic literacy.

Today I received a top-notch email. My favourite hoax to date.

USPS OFFICE AUTHORITY
P.O BOX 55, NEW YORK NY, 10116-0555
MAIL TO:SERVICE@POST.COM

This is to notify you that we have intercepted your parcel from DHL/UPS courier service from delivering the parcel to you for security reasons as stated below.

1. Our scanning system detected your parcel containing a confirmable
ATM CARD.
Before the parcel could be delivered, you are obliged to obtain A Duly Sworn Affidavit from the Spanish High Court in Spain to back up the the origin of the Parcel, this is in line with the Anti Terrorist Campaign due to the Law Implemented by government of United States of America to protect and reduce the terrorist activities.

We kindly advice you to contact the agent in Madrid, Spain to get the Sworn Affidavit for you. Please note that the cost of the Sworn Affidavit costs only $158 which must paid by the receiver of the parcel. Below is the contact details of the agent in charge. He will advice you on how the payment should be made so please contact him immediately you receive this notification.

Name: Mr Aaron Winston
Email:aaronwinston@gala.net
Tel:0034 639 032 542

We shall forward the card to you as soon as we receive the Duly Sworn Affidavit, we are doing this to secure your interest considering the credit card frauds and stolen cheque which brings problem to American citizens all around the world.

Your prompt response is most higly desired to terminate the delivering of your parcel.

Mr William R Gillian
Chief Postal Inspection Service.

The only hint of literacy difficulty here is some capitalizations and perhaps there should be a “the” in front of “government” (due to the Law Implemented by government of United States of America). Apart from that, spot on.

It was even sent from “noreply@usps.org”. Unfortunately, www.usps.org is the site of the United States Power Squadrons.

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