Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Greetings In Jesus’ Name – The Scambaiter Letters: Michael Berry, July 31—August 4, 2014
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
Mike Berry runs the anti-scam website www.419eater.com, dedicated to frustrating the efforts of Nigerian 419 scammers. These are the guys who email you to tell you that you’ve won or inherited millions, demand various clearance fees into the thousands and vanish with your cash without producing your fantasy booty.
In Greetings In Jesus Name, Berry – under his alias Shiver Metimbers – presents a selection of email correspondences where he has pretended to go along with the scams in order to make the lives of these crooks as difficult and annoying as possible, with hilarious consequences. He has these conmen doing everything from intricate wooden carvings to writing out a novel by hand. It’s silly, but most importantly very time consuming – if these guys want to steal thousands, they need to work for it.
His various schemes to make the scammers sweat are imaginative and funny, and some of the nonsense they’ll swallow is priceless. Berry labels himself ‘Max N. Paddy’, ‘Klench Mychiques’ and, when posing as a UK police officer, ‘Inspector Morse’ to name a few. There are countless puns and gags that make these brazen thieves look ridiculous. There is less variety in the writings of the conmen (apart from the one who is required to fall in love with Gillian Anderson), but Berry brightens up their monotonous and incoherent waffle with plenty of witty asides peppered throughout.
I was also delighted to see a surprise starring appearance from my hometown Paisley in the final scam bait, complete with photographs and a mocked-up Paisley Daily Express. Quite novel!
Some of Berry’s material became a little repetitive, and there was one where the scammer didn’t engage at all and cut off the deal almost straightaway. That was a strange selection for inclusion in the book. There were also some proofing errors, such as a transcript in which Berry incorrectly attributed one half of the phone conversation to a Martins David instead of Davis. In other places, there were typeface inconsistencies and phone numbers/emails that are redacted in one email are uncensored in the next. None of it very important, but irritating nonetheless!
Good work, Berry. Give those scammers a run for their money!