Are there still some fools out there?

There are dozens of ways legitimate and illegitimate sales people try to get through to us on the telephone or by email. We’ve all had hundreds of scamming emails from widows and lawyers who need our help (and just a little of our money) to release the millions of dollars they’re eager to share with us.

Or we’ve won the lottery.


I’m often amazed, and even occasionally amused, at the sheer incompetence of some of them. Take this one, for example…


Greetings My Name is Mr Benson Stephen

Hello How are you doing today? My Name is Mrs Maria Leslie Am from United Kingdom , where are you from? Are you a dedicated Christen/Muslim? please reply today. I will be waiting for your email My Regards, Mr Benson Stephen

Email Disclaimer Notice:   The information in this e-mail and any attachments is confidential and may be legally privileged or propriety is subject to copyright and is the property of Osoul Investment Company….

Disclaimer added by CodeTwo Exchange Rules


What’s clever (but not very) about this one is the ‘disclaimer notice’ that’s supposed to lend an air of authenticity to the message. It supposedly legitimises the otherwise dodgy-sounding ‘Osoul Investment Company’. But not clever, I think, in any way, to be a transgender scammer and have two names.

This one is also fun, not least for being expressed in just two sentences.


Greeting to you Dear Mr Bager, I contact you for a good purpose that will benefit me and you,I’m Mr.Denise Nwadike ZANOU a Private lawyer to Late Engr Michael Bager, a national of your country and Director of oil company here, my client and his family were involved in a car accident unfortunately lost their lives, my later client had an account valued at about 13.7Musd  thirteen Million Seven Hundred Thousand Dollars in Bank here and I want to present you to the bank as the next of kin to my late client since you have the same last name, please send your full name /email and telephone number to my email so that I’ll send more details to you and i ll also forward it to the bank here to release the fund of my late cline to your account as a new beneficiary since you have the same last name with him.then you and I will Share the money 50% to me and 50% to you. Am looking forward to receiving your response regards this transaction.


Lawyers can be longwinded, but this stretches credulity a hundred words too far.

Kate Lee, below, thinks she’s being especially clever in anticipating our scepticism…



I know you will be surprised to read my email. Apart from being surprise you may be skeptical to reply me because based on what is happening on the internet world, one has to be very careful because a lot of scammers are out there to scam innocent citizens and this has made it very difficult for people to believe anything that comes through the internet.

My name is Capt. Carr Kate Lee, a member of the U.S. ARMY medical team, Just deployed to Iraq Because of the ISIS Problem. View to see details ( ).

I need a trust worthy person who will assist me in procuring these funds that will be transferred to you for both our collective benefit.


It takes just a couple of seconds to dismiss these kinds of emails, but if you added up all the time we spend on scams and other breathtakingly stupid attempts on our prosperity it would add up to several wasted days in a lifetime.

But of course, many of the people who approach us have a perfectly legitimate aim – people selling us mailing lists, offering us inclusion in our profession’s Who’s Who or Hall of Fame, asking for an interview, offering us investment and life insurance schemes, an immediate Doctorate, etc.

Yesterday I was even asked to review my profile in Women of Distinction.

What surprises me is that they do it SO BADLY.

There are those insurance salesman whose patter is good enough to get them through the first line of defence, your switchboard or secretary, but who blow it immediately, at least with me, by beginning,

‘Good morning Mr Bager. How are you today?!’

No one, except a salesman, begins a conversation that way, and I can’t think why they’re still teaching them to deploy this kind of breezy insincerity. I don’t waste time. I’m cruel, perhaps, but to the point. I interrupt and ask them what they’re trying to sell.

‘No, no, I’m not trying to sell you anything at all. I just want to talk about an opportunity….’

Hmmmm. Down goes the phone.

Email style is another giveaway. I’m infuriated by those who write as if they know me already. And this sort of flattery doesn’t work on me either:

LLP Group has been shortlisted for IS 20 Most Valuable IT Services Companies listing


Hi Adam,

As a B2B sales leader in your company, I believe you will find this interesting and informative.

B2B sales leader? Me?!

And then, of course, there are the Tatianas:


Hello, I very much want to meet a good man and I know, we’ll necessarily find each other: I need a man who has open soul.

Profiles:233261261 – I am a sweet and smart lady with long hair and beautiful eyes.

My friends tell me that I am a very beautiful girl. I want acquainted with a real man who becomes a beloved husband for me.

He should be romantic, affectionate and |tender|gentle[/string], and of course responsible. If I’m interested, write me Bye, Tatiana.


Am I right in thinking that the adjective substitution algorithm hasn’t quite worked `correctly on |tender|gentle[/string].

I leave Tatiana to you, if you’re interested!

The Death of the Business Card


What’s the point of business cards?

Do you still carry them and give them out at meetings?

Do you ever look at the business cards you’ve collected?

business card

I don’t think they’re needed anymore. If they’re not actually dead, at the very least they’re on life support, offered only during those brief encounters on the plane or train that we hope might turn into a multi-million deal (which never happened to me, even when I did have my business cards to hand).

Surely it’s more useful, nowadays, to embroider your email address on your clothes (rather than wearing Hugo’s, or Giorgio’s or Gianni’s name), or to tattoo your email address on your forehead. An email address is everything, the be all and end all of identity. It’s both necessary and sufficient in the business world, and it doesn’t need to be printed on a card.

In any case I keep forgetting to carry my business cards (I’m useless with accessories and have never been able to hang on to an umbrella for more than a week) but no one seems to mind if I don’t have one.

It was different two or three decades ago, and I remember how much it meant to me when I was given my first pack of smooth white cards. I’d just been promoted from programmer to consultant at Hoskyns, back in the mid 1980s, and one of the privileges of this promotion was the printing of a pack of business cards bearing name and job title. Perhaps for me, given that I cannot drive, it was more alluring a benefit that the company car that I could expect two promotions later. I was suddenly someone and I had a small rectangle of stiff white card to prove it. And the company was endorsing me by putting my name next to their logo and their place of business. I belonged.

Over the years I learnt to carry them wherever I went. You never knew when it might be sensible to hand one out. In Asia I learned to offer them (as one must offer anything of value) with two hands rather than one, and in the Germanic world I learned to bow slightly and click my heels. Card giving was the prelude or coda to every important business meeting.

When I started my own company in 1992 I remember being told by a wiser older entrepreneur that you should never throw away a business card, so I kept them in their hundreds and thousands, and once a year I used to organise them alphabetically into business card folders or rolls, but I have never looked inside them since. I regularly passed on the same advice and am still, out of habit, prone to mutter to my junior colleagues, ‘Don’t forget your business cards’, as we set out for a meeting.

Twenty-three years of hoarding business cards

business cards 3

But I don’t think they matter anymore. And they don’t have the same status-conferring appeal. Or if they do, I still don’t see the point of them. They were principally a means of conveying name, address and telephone number, then fax number, then in more recent times email address and website. They had brand implications too. You could choose a heavier, more expensive card, or try to do something imaginative and cool. But everyone I nowadays meet already knows who I am, what my name is, and how to get hold of me, or can very easily find out without adding my card to their dusty stack.

There are Apps, too, for the harvesting of identities at conferences (reading data from those tags you’re forced to hang from your neck) and there are a dozen other ways of keeping track of the people you’ve met. Cards play a minor, disappearing role.

But still, I won’t be throwing away my pile. I am a hoarder by nature, and, who knows, one day there’s a card in the pile that might prove useful.