Edinburgh Fringe 2014
A lesson in how to get your own back on perpetrators of junk mail
This is a show that’s as pithy as its title is verbose. But, given that much of it focused on our eponymous reporter’s attempts to strike back at scammers, I wondered whether there would be enough humour to sustain a full hour. After all, this show was just one nerdy bloke with a computer screen talking about something that most of us deal with as an irritant, automatically hitting the delete button to rid ourselves of scam and junk mail without a second thought.
I shouldn’t have worried. To someone with James Veitch’s comic genius and nerdy, anarchic, twisted mind, the world of scammers clearly presents an almost infinite number of possibilities.. His effervescent delivery and sheer joy at discovering that scammers, convinced that they had an idiot on their hook, would engage him in email conversation ensured that barely a minute passed without some hilarious disclosure.
Apparently, around 60% of emails sent in 2013 were either spam or scam, or both, resulting in innocent people being relieved of around $6 billion of their hard earned cash. Whilst it’s easy to reach for that truism about fools and money soon being parted, scammers are not all as obviously idiotic as those highlighted for our amusement by the bouncy Mr Veitch.
But at least he has the brass neck and the time to take on a select few of the more obvious frauds waiting to happen. And he’s recorded the conversations. Email by email. What fun he’s had with a certain Solomon Odonkoh, stringing the would-be fraudster along with a series of absurdist comments in a bid to try the scammer’s patience to breaking point, which he just about succeeds in doing. He goes on to recount similar exchanges with people offering to ship him large quantities of gold in return for a commission, contacting him about an inheritance that is his if only he would email his bank details and a small deposit to an obscure African country and, inevitably, offers to enhance parts of his anatomy.
There’s even a cry for help from Winnie Mandela, concerned about the health of her husband, Nelson, and wanting James to help her deposit an eye-watering sum of money offshore. All perfectly legal and above board, I’m sure, except for the minor irritant that Mr Mandela had passed away some three months previously, apparently unnoticed by his “wife”.
As well as being something of a raconteur with an impressive sense of comic timing, young James is also a whizz on Photoshop and at explaining just why he can’t send that $3000 that’s been requested of him. With adroit use of a multi-media screen onto which he flashes his many email exchanges with the scammers in his sights, he’s a one man tirade against one of the 21st Century’s most annoying traits. So evangelical in fact, that he’s convinced me to try and waste the time of the next idiotic scammer I come across.
Well worth seeing for anyone with an email account who’s interested in learning just how many idiots there are out there on the internet.