Junk mail: ‘How can I be more appealing?’

Roland Cartwright, Cleo Heller, Harris Diamond, Dr. Joan Skaggs and Ivy Abernathy.

Cool-sounding names, right? They could be characters in a soap opera or a mystery novel. Too bad they’re not.

Who are they? Five of the 46 people who sent me junk e-mails today, offering good deals on anything from cheap prescription drugs to half-priced farm animals (why even bother going to the fair anymore?).

My question: Why do “they” – mysterious spam masterminds – even bother sending junk mail? Nobody actually looks at it. Once people see the message is from someone with a name like “Sir Cyrus Bentley,” they just hit delete. Another deal on Viagra that never had a chance.

It doesn’t help either that the message is usually in broken English – or doesn’t make sense at all (How can you rip me off if I can’t understand you?).

If spammers want junk mail to be more effective, they need to give their sleaze peddlers back stories as interesting, and unbelievable, as their names. A good tale to reel us in.

Here’s a few examples of good junk mail names that – with a little story added to them – could be garbage I might read:

From: Coy Landry

Subject: Discount Vicodin 

Dear Mr. McGuire,

I was once a cocky lifeguard on the popular television show Baywatch who was forced to live on the streets after getting paralyzed in episode #39 while saving Mitch and C.J. from a fierce rip tide. Now, my only chance to fully recover and enter this weekend’s surfing competition in Malibu is to sell my extra stash of Vicodin for only half price! That’s right, pay only half-price! So eliminate your pain safely on-line and help me restore my self-worth. This is a 100% Licensed and Legal purchase.


From: Enrico Roman

Subject: Luxury timepieces

Hello Sir,

I am a ruthless gangster, playboy, polo champion and three-term mayor of a wealthy resort community in South Florida. The only thing I take more serious than my women are perfectly crafted luxury timepiece replicas. Rolex, Cartier, Chanel – all look real, all at low prices. And there are thousands of different models to choose from. I can use charm, good looks and force, if necessary, to make sure you look stunning in 2008.


From: Wanda Lugo

Subject: Legally cancel your credit card debt

Greetings Mr. Macgwuire:

I am a witch doctor who spent 25 years working as a collection agent for a major credit card company. I know the ins and outs of debt consolidation and voodoo curses. Using a series of spells and sacrifices, I can instantly raise your credit score and give anyone who questions you a horrible skin disorder. Call me today.


Another possible suggestion for junk e-mailers: Make fake offers on things people actually want.

McGuire has been offered, but never purchased, pictures of himself on a roller coaster. His column appears Thursdays.

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