HOW TO BE A PIGGY LIAR
by Otto Matik
I used to be pretty good at presorting the junk mail from the important
stuff. I wouldn't even have to open the envelopes before pitching them in
the trash. There are tell-tale clues: dot-matrix printed addresses, bold-lettered
SCREAMING ad copy plastered all over the envelope, and printed bulk-mail
permit numbers instead of stamps or postal franks.
But the junk mail people have caught on. They are disguising their envelopes
to look like important mail. In the last couple of weeks I've received the
following pieces of "stealth" junk mail:
1. Something that appeared to be a notice from the federal government
to appear for an income tax Audit. (It was for some stupid newsletter).
2. An envelope with a little cellophane window that contained what looked
like a check. Even after I opened the envelope, it looked just like a check
for $2,000 made out to me, and signed by a real person. (I knew, of course,
it was some type of scam. It was an invitation to open a line of credit
at over twice the current prime lending rate of interest)
3. An envelope that looked like it was sent by some type of FedEx or
overnight delivery service. I always open these, since I figure if the sender
is going to spend over ten bucks to deliver something to me, it's probably
important. (Actually, they used a trick envelope that mimicked FedEx's logo
and color scheme. A company called Response Mail sells these. In fact, they
sent junk mail to me trying to get me to buy some of the envelopes. Curiously,
they didn't use one of their Ersatz Express envelopes to send the card to
Apparently, junk mail psychologists think that after they trick you into
opening an envelope, you'll gladly fork over money for whatever shit it
is they're trying to sell. Being fooled like this sure doesn't put me in
the mood for giving them my money. Trying to pull a fast one on me from
square one is not a way to garner my trust in a company that wants my business.
I also get a lot of junk email. Whenever I see a subject line that says
something like "HOT NEW ISDN ROUTER SMALL ENOUGH TO FIT IN YOUR NOSTRIL!"
I throw it in the trash without opening it.
The email junk people are also catching on. They're sending messages
without subject lines, so I have to open them to see what they're about.
The message below was sent by some PR firm. There's no subject line, no
identification that it originated from a PR flak, and it is signed simply,
"J," in an attempt to trick me into thinking the message came
from a friend.
The best part of the story, however, is the Web site the message refers
to. It's an ad for a CD called "Bright Side of the Sun" and is
touted as a follow up to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon."
But if you read the fine print, you discover that the CD is not by Pink
Floyd. It's by some guy hoping to capitalize on Pink Floyd's reputation.
The sneaky guy and his sneaky PR flak for were made for each other!
Here's the email they sent me:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (EMail Express)
Date: 96-05-22 17:29:49 EDT
Came across this web site and thought you might be of all time. You can
find it at -
Talk with you soon.
Since "J" was kind enough to turn me on to this site, I emailed
him the following message, as a favor. Just to make sure he got it, I sent
it about 12 or 13 times:
Came across this information and thought you might be interested. It's
about Gram negative bacteria/E.coli plasmid vector pTF-FC2. You can find
it at -
Talk with you soon.
UPDATE: 6 November 1997
From Jim Leftwich
Just today in the mail I received an plain white No. 9 envelope with
my name and business typed on it. There was no return address and it looked
fairly thin. I opened it up and it contained what looked to be a page hand-torn
from a magazine. Same kinda paper, etc.. At first it looked like an article,
but then I noticed it was one of those front/back ads for a newsletter called
TREND LETTER. In fact, it even had "advertisement" printed on
it, like you'd find in a magazine. Affixed to it in the top right corner
of the front page, was a Post-It with the following hand-written note:
It's really good!
I've got to admit, it made me stop and think... Who did I know that was
J.? But quickly I realized that it was a SCAM!