Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cruel Hoax, Someone's Idea of a Performance Piece, or Simply Spam?

In my email today there was an "invitation" about which there have been warnings issued in recent weeks. The peculiarly-worded email reads as follows:


"Respected Katharine Weber,

I am Prof. Mark Kennedy from King’s College Campus Here in London UK.
We want you to be our guest Speaker at this Year King’s college Seminar which will take place here in UK. We are writing to invite and confirm your booking to be our guest Speaker at this year’s event.

King’s College Campus.

The Venue as follows:
VENUE: King’s College campus in Strand
London, United Kingdom
Expected audience: 850 people
Duration of speech per speaker: 1 Hour
Name of Organization: King’s College Campus.
Topic: ”Mystery of Life and Death”
Date:30th May 2012

We came across your profile on http://www.pw.org// and we say it’s up to standard and we will be very glad to have such an outstanding personality in our midst for these overwhelming gathering. Arrangements to welcome you here will be discussed as soon as you honor our invitation. If you have any more publicity material, please do not hesitate to contact us.

A formal Letter of invitation and Contract agreement would be sent to you as soon as you honor our Invitation. We are taking care of your travel and Hotel Accommodation expenses including your Speaking Fee. If you will be available for our event, include your speaking fees in your email so it can be included in your CONTRACT AGREEMENT.

Stay Blessed
Prof. Mark Kennedy
King’s College Campus.

Tel: + 44 702 408 2535"

I am puzzled about the intention of the author of this email. Is it designed as a cruel hoax to smack authors for their egos? Is there some point when one's credit card details would be required? Is it someone's Joe Orton-esque idea of a literary performance piece?

When I was writing True Confections, in an early draft I included a Nigerian hoax email as a plot element. My wise editor, John Glusman, persuaded me to take it out, and I am glad I did. It's all far too "familiar" at this point.


  1. Another friend of mine got that same one last year.

  2. Yep, I just got one too Katherine, supposedly from a college in the UK. I understand they subsequently ask for Passport and credit card details for 'visa purposes'...the consequences of which lead to a world of pain.

  3. Sigh, I just got one 5 minutes ago.

  4. I am an administrator at King's College London, and have received emails enquiring about these phishing attempts. We do not refer to a single Kings College "campus" (as there are several), and the so-called professors are not listed on our staff directory.
    Sloppy phishing at best.

  5. Perhaps we should be grateful that they are not more adept, rather than critical of the sloppiness. In any case, most American writers, no matter how sophisticated, would probably not recognize those inauthenticities (as it happens, my daughter has done graduate work at King's College).

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