A weak Spanish Prisoner con

I had been explaining the Spanish Prisoner con to my son Anthony, and just received this clumsy one today. Upon receipt of a better one, I will post that. I will lay out the elements of the con so that they can be recognized in this one. The big picture of a Spanish Prisoner is that the mark (target of the con) is to be persuaded to send money to the con-man (prisoner) for the purpose of putting banking mechanism in place to facilitate the transfer of the promised millions of dollars. A variation is paying money to help said prisoner escape from prison in his home country, or escape from the country himself.

The psychological key to this con (in addition to the normal incitement of greed in the mark) is to give the mark the sense that they are in a special position of power vis-a-vis the prisoner. In the past this might be accomplished better by arranging for the mark to find a letter, purportedly the only one the prisoner was able to send from prison. The mark would then believe it was their fortune to be the only life-line for the prisoner.

Now the prisoner-only lifeline link in this letter is weak, but nonetheless addressed. The mark has been selected from a business directory of reputable businessmen. While a mark may realize that they are not in such a directory, their greed may inspire them to discreetly not bring this mistake to the attention of the prisoner. You will note in this letter that the prisoner claims he will work exclusively with the mark unless the mark declines.

This contains the normal grammatical errors and archaic word choices that indicate a letter written by a non english speaker. The writer of this one is so lazy that they don’t even include the mark’s name or country in the letter, undercutting the claim that they have been selected specifically–the key to this con. While no doubt there will be claims of money to follow for a mark who responds, at the very least the first interchange will involve the mark providing their demographic information to the prisoner. Text is below:


Firstly, i must apologies for barging into your mailbox without formal introduction of myself to you, actually, I got your contact information from a reputable business/professional Directory of your country which gives me assurance of your legibility as a person while trying to get a good and capable business person in your country for business and investment purposes, this why without wasting any time i am seeking a decision maker to grab my offering $64,000,000 ,Yours free! With some simple conditions you will need to follow and work closely with me, you can’t say my generous offer of 50% $64,000,000 a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Have i got your attention?

Let me introduce myself I am the Senior Programme Manager with the United Nation Development Program in the Asia Pacific Region with UNDP,I am the person directly responsible to answer to the board of directors to UNDP on monthly meetings, My special role is to evaluate all contract appraisals and the approvals to foreign contractors, As you are aware i am the Senior Project manager ANSWERING TO THE PRINCIPLE DIRECTORS OF UNDP i got sick of answering to stubborn management i decided to deploy early retirement, this is where our deal begins to work for you and me .Under my strict supervision you will be working closely with me directly, I am letting you to my finding, during routine supervision over foreign contracts; i noticed a series of over invoiced contracts that amassed to $128,000,000,here comes the advantage you have, I have successfully secured the sum of $128,000,000 One hundred and twenty eight million US Dollars, I want us to work closely together and enable to transfer the total amount of$128,000,000,to your business account, As i have highlighted to you before i am more than willing to share 50% with you for your efforts and assistance, It’s worth $64,000,000 to you Division 1 Lottery!

My question to you is do you want to be a millionaire all you need do is assist me on what is Required you get $64,000,000,upon the success of the transfer we shall form a partnership and invest my share with yours into blue chip investments, As a result of this obviously i will have to surrender my position with UNDP, Then immediately afterwards make provision to relocate my family to your country, Now i hope you understand everything is transparent all things my side are perfected at this point all you need is to follow

my directives.

Accept the $128,000,000 into your business account bearing in mind it’s a 50-50 deal. I will require UN undertaking from you that you will not run of with the $128,000,000 Driven by greed. On this basis i will agree to assist you transfer smoothly to your account $128,000,000 that at that point in time, call it winnings or compensation is your choice it’s the $64,000,000 dollar question.


1) Full Name
2) Full Address
3) Age
4) Sex
5) Home Telephone
6) Mobile Phone
7) Active Email Account
8) Fax Number
9) Business Number
10)Business Address
11)Current occupation status
12)Country of Origin

Also be informed that this transaction will take us 15 working days to accomplish beginning from When i receive your Data, after you have assumed the position of foreign contractor to UNDP .I will Also file an application in the UNDP headquarters & secure the necessary approval and letter of Clearance .you is a Contractor to UNDP & a favor of movement of funds to an account that will be Provided by you, this process is 100% risk free as i have set out all the modalities to see that a legalized method is used because then i will prepare all the necessary documents, Please note that utmost secrecy and confidentiality is required at all times during this transaction, Once the funds have been transferred into your nominated bank account we shall share ratio of 50% for me, 50% for you, If you are not interested please delete this proposal, so that i can look for another competent partner to conclude this above mentioned transaction, Should you be interested please send me your full details as stated above . I would prefer that you reach me on my private
number: +60166324907

Your earliest response to this email will be appreciated.

Best Regards

Mr Kevin Hor
Senior Programme Manager  to UNDP

The Life Cycle of a Police Procedural, or why these shows inevitably engage in Shark Jumping

I have come to see that thinking in terms of predictable life-cycles is a powerful tool for understanding many phenomena. Having seen many beloved police procedurals evolve into something not worth watching, I will advance my theory. Case in point, The Closer and its spin-off Major Crimes.

First off a definition: A Police Procedural is a show or book that chronicles police activity as they solve a single major crime, or go about their routine business of investigating many crimes with some remaining unsolved. I’ll confess I am addicted to this sort of show or book, so I see a lot. I also watch some that are shockingly badly done, though even I have my limits to what I will tolerate. What I enjoy about a procedural is the predator dynamic–the police seeking a criminal and ultimately finding them and meting out some form of justice. Such shows are also made interesting by the work and interpersonal patterns of people engaged in such work.

It strikes me there are myriad criminals and investigative paths such shows can follow year in and out, but ultimately the dynamic of the shows change from a predatory hunt for a criminal being the focus of the energy, to a focus on sex and conflict among the police and in their personal lives. One good indicator that your favorite cop show is on the fast track to the toilet is the milestone episode when the members of the police themselves become victims of the criminals they are pursuing. To appeal to the basest instincts among us, this crime often involves the rape of one or more large-busted female members of the cast.

Why this should be inevitable puzzles me, but its inevitability is axiomatic nonetheless. My working theory is that there is an extremely limited number of good writers in the TV business, and an unlimited supply of mediocre ones. The first few seasons of a really good show is staffed with what I call the “A” team, but over time, the good writers quit or are assigned to other new shows to get them off to a good start. The “B” team is not very good at writing police procedurals, and the only thing they really know how to do is write soap operas fueled by sex and interpersonal conflict.

Also, tv writers are inevitably marxists at heart, else they would not find work in the business. The A team is better at concealing it, but the B team just can’t help themselves from using the weekly episode as their political soapbox. Soon there is no mystery as to who-dun-it. Its the wealthy industrialist, the uptight christian who is a hypocrite in matters of marital fidelity, and all those evil freedom-loving Tea Party types who inhabit the marxian nightmare closet. And then there is the onanistic speechifying in shows like Law And Order which, if nothing else, relive the producers of paying for expensive exterior filming.

Now I do need to acknowledge that percentage-wise there are probably more TV viewers who prefer interpersonal drama to the predacious hunt for criminals, so for a real blockbuster show, producers try to give the whole family something to enjoy, mixing police work and sex/conflict.

Take The Closer, for example. Now the show started out with two striking elements: 1) the ability of ‘The Closer’ to solve crimes and get confessions, and 2) the amount of conflict she has with some of her team in the first season. For quite some time, I found it to be a pretty good bargain–good police work with boring team infighting.

I also must acknowledge the deft comic touch of those who wrote The Closer: the misadventures of Flynn and Provenza. One of my favorite scenes: Johnson to Pope: “I need to tell you something, don’t get angry. This is about Flynn and Provenza…” Pope: “I’m already angry.”

And for many seasons the show stayed unusually strong until in the final seasons, the show became more and more about the feelings and personal life of the lead character. Presumably toward the end, Kyra Sedgwick probably got tired of the role and wanted some personal time to spend the millions she had earned, and just when the focus on her character’s personal life threatened to swamp the show, the producers put it out of its misery.

With a strong ensemble cast, one could have expected the spin-off, Major Crimes, to have a good shot at being a good show. Well, from what I could see in the first couple of episodes, the show had moved away from a maverick cop getting results, to a politically correct bureaucracy preachily extolling the virtues of following the rules and not getting results.

And in addition to this unsatisfying turn of affairs, apparently half of each episode was devoted to the implausible plot device whereby the new female lead, Captain Raydor, invites a young, shrill, selfish, and irritating young criminal/victim to live in her home while she delivers on a promise to locate his neer-do-well mom who has abandoned him. During their time together, Raydor shares her innermost vulnerabilities with this whiney victim while he throws tantrums in response, with his victimhood his license to be an ingrate. At this point, its clear the writers here are talent-free regurgitators of cliche, so we all know that these two will come to develop a strong bond and yada yada. But I certainly didn’t care if this happens or even want to stick around to see it.

As is often the case with spin-offs, Major Crimes didn’t have the legs its predecessor did and quickly lost viewer interest and deservedly wound up un-mourned in an unmarked grave.

With this example providing a roadmap, one can see how so many police procedurals start out with great promise and evolve into something implausible and loathsome, alienating their erstwhile loyal followers. If you like procedurals for the same reasons I do, watch for the pattern and you will see it.

There are some precious franchises which escape these tawdry failings, and they seem to come mostly from England (the birthplace and motherlode of the Police Procedural), but that is a discussion for another day.

The ‘God Particle’? No, but an important one

Physicists have recently announced that they have ‘all but discovered’ the Higgs Boson. What this means is that they have found evidence of a sub-atomic particle who’s existence was posited by Peter Higgs in 1964. The nature of the particle is such that its existence could not be proven (detected) until the recent construction of the largest ever particle accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider built in Geneva, Switzerland–or at least such detection was the hope when the Large Hadron project was initiated.

To explain how the existence of a given particle can be posited 48 years before it may have been isolated at the Large Hadron Collider, imagine that scientists have discovered some objects that share two properties. One property can be in two states which can be arbitrarily named up and down. A second property can similarly have a binary range called red or green. Combinatorically, a pair of binary properties can produce 4 different object types.

Lets imagine that a red up, red down, and green up objects have been discovered or isolated. While nobody can know if a green down object exists, a notion of symmetry suggests it might exist–that all combinations of properties exist. This sort of pursuit of symmetry, or filling in of missing combinations of properties has worked quite well for physicists exploring the building blocks of so-called atomic particles such as neutrons, protons, and electrons.

Many of the properties of the evanescent Higgs Boson, and any number of other particles and forces have also been inferred by the effect they are thought to have on systems of other particles–effects that cannot be explained by previously discovered particles and forces. Much as the shape of a missing puzzle piece can be inferred after the rest of the puzzle is assembled.

Of course, quantum mechanics, quarks, mesons, bosons, and the like, are much more complex than I have described, and are far beyond my comprehension–though I understand the big picture. Also, the process of detecting said particles is an extremely complex matter itself, and is not blessed with certainty. Hence, the reluctance of the research teams to declare the particle definitely detected at this point. For example, while the Higgs Boson may be singled out by breaking up a larger particle in the Collider, it may also be unstable and re-combine into the larger particle in a matter of billionths of a second, further complicating detection.

So, what of the media’s ignorant sensationalism? Well, the Large Hadron Collider hasn’t initiated some sort of cataclysmic reaction that will destroy the universe as some predicted, and the Higgs Boson is an important scientific discovery if scientists upgrade their ‘all but discovered’ with a bit more certainty. But in the end, its not a God Particle, and we still live in the same world we always have, with perhaps no more than 5,000 people in said world able to fully comprehend the nature of the Higgs Boson and whatever knowledge arises from its detection.

Selling office supplies to angry women

Back during the Clinton administration, I had the pleasure of working for a supervisor who once blandly let me know that she hated men, but not me. Naturally this rankled a bit, and while commiserating with another man on the team (one of the funniest men I ever worked with), he related this story:

Some years ago he worked selling office supplies to corporations. He partnered with a woman who happened to be the junior salesman of the two. When doing cold calling, if the purchasing manager was a woman and they determined that she was a man-hater type, he would contrive to ‘accidentally’ spill his sample case on the floor. His female partner would then bark out something like “You clumsy oaf! Go to the car and get a new sample case!” Appearing suitably humiliated, he would gather up his stuff and rush out of the office.

By the time he apologetically returned from the car with a new sample case, his female partner would be closing the sale…

The original British Office

Before american’s developed their hunger for awkwardness in the form of The Office, there was Ricky Gervais who developed the original Office in England. His pretentious, insecure, repellent, maladroit, and funny office manager seemed to be invented from whole cloth, yet we realized in retrospect his sort seems to be a denizen of every workplace.