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  • A few years ago,

  • I got one of those spam emails.

  • And it managed to get through my spam filter.

  • I'm not quite sure how, but it turned up in my inbox,

  • and it was from a guy called Solomon Odonkoh.

  • (Laughter)

  • I know.

  • (Laughter)

  • It went like this:

  • it said, "Hello James Veitch,

  • I have an interesting business proposal I want to share with you, Solomon."

  • Now, my hand was kind of hovering on the delete button, right?

  • I was looking at my phone. I thought, I could just delete this.

  • Or I could do what I think we've all always wanted to do.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I said, "Solomon, Your email intrigues me."

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • And the game was afoot.

  • He said, "Dear James Veitch, We shall be shipping Gold to you."

  • (Laughter)

  • "You will earn 10% of any gold you distributes."

  • (Laughter)

  • So I knew I was dealing with a professional.

  • (Laughter)

  • I said, "How much is it worth?"

  • He said, "We will start with smaller quantity," --

  • I was like, aww --

  • and then he said, "of 25 kgs.

  • (Laughter)

  • The worth should be about $2.5 million."

  • I said, "Solomon, if we're going to do it, let's go big.

  • (Applause)

  • I can handle it. How much gold do you have?"

  • (Laughter)

  • He said, "It is not a matter of how much gold I have,

  • what matters is your capability of handling.

  • We can start with 50 kgs as trial shipment."

  • I said, "50 kgs?

  • There's no point doing this at all

  • unless you're shipping at least a metric ton."

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • He said, "What do you do for a living?"

  • (Laughter)

  • I said, "I'm a hedge fund executive bank manager."

  • (Laughter)

  • This isn't the first time I've shipped bullion, my friend,

  • no no no.

  • Then I started to panic.

  • I was like, "Where are you based?"

  • I don't know about you,

  • but I think if we're going via the postal service,

  • it ought to be signed for.

  • That's a lot of gold."

  • He said, "It will not be easy to convince my company

  • to do larger quantity shipment."

  • I said, "Solomon, I'm completely with you on this one.

  • I'm putting together a visual for you to take into the board meeting.

  • Hold tight."

  • (Laughter)

  • This is what I sent Solomon.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • I don't know if we have any statisticians in the house,

  • but there's definitely something going on.

  • (Laughter)

  • I said, "Solomon, attached to this email you'll find a helpful chart.

  • I've had one of my assistants run the numbers.

  • (Laughter)

  • We're ready for shipping as much gold as possible."

  • There's always a moment where they try to tug your heartstrings,

  • and this was it for Solomon.

  • He said, "I will be so much happy if the deal goes well,

  • because I'm going to get a very good commission as well."

  • And I said, "That's amazing, What are you going to spend your cut on?"

  • And he said, "On RealEstate, what about you?"

  • I thought about it for a long time.

  • And I said, "One word;

  • Hummus."

  • (Laughter)

  • "It's going places.

  • (Laughter)

  • I was in Sainsbury's the other day

  • and there were like 30 different varieties.

  • Also you can cut up carrots, and you can dip them.

  • Have you ever done that, Solomon?"

  • (Laughter)

  • He said, "I have to go bed now."

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • "Till morrow.

  • Have sweet dream."

  • I didn't know what to say!

  • I said, "Bonsoir my golden nugget, bonsoir."

  • (Laughter)

  • Guys, you have to understand, this had been going for, like, weeks,

  • albeit hitherto the greatest weeks of my life,

  • but I had to knock it on the head.

  • It was getting a bit out of hand.

  • Friends were saying, "James, do you want to come for a drink?"

  • I was like, "I can't, I'm expecting an email about some gold."

  • So I figured I had to knock it on the head.

  • I had to take it to a ridiculous conclusion.

  • So I concocted a plan.

  • I said, "Solomon, I'm concerned about security.

  • When we email each other,

  • we need to use a code."

  • And he agreed.

  • (Laughter)

  • I said, "Solomon, I spent all night coming up with this code

  • we need to use in all further correspondence:

  • Lawyer: Gummy Bear.

  • Bank: Cream Egg.

  • Legal: Fizzy Cola Bottle. Claim: Peanut M&Ms.

  • Documents: Jelly Beans.

  • Western Union: A Giant Gummy Lizard."

  • (Laughter)

  • I knew these were all words they use, right?

  • I said, "Please call me Kitkat in all further correspondence."

  • (Laughter)

  • I didn't hear back. I thought, I've gone too far.

  • I've gone too far. So I had to backpedal a little.

  • I said, "Solomon, Is the deal still on?

  • KitKat."

  • (Laughter)

  • Because you have to be consistent.

  • Then I did get an email back from him.

  • He said, "The Business is on and I am trying to blah blah blah ..."

  • I said, "Dude, you have to use the code!"

  • What followed is the greatest email I've ever received.

  • (Laughter)

  • I'm not joking, this is what turned up in my inbox.

  • This was a good day.

  • "The business is on.

  • I am trying to raise the balance for the Gummy Bear --

  • (Laughter)

  • so he can submit all the needed Fizzy Cola Bottle Jelly Beans

  • to the Creme Egg,

  • for the Peanut M&Ms process to start.

  • (Laughter)

  • Send 1,500 pounds

  • via a Giant Gummy Lizard."

  • (Applause)

  • And that was so much fun, right,

  • that it got me thinking:

  • like, what would happen if I just spent as much time as could

  • replying to as many scam emails as I could?

  • And that's what I've been doing

  • for three years

  • on your behalf.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • Crazy stuff happens when you start replying to scam emails.

  • It's really difficult,

  • and I highly recommend we do it.

  • I don't think what I'm doing is mean.

  • There are a lot of people who do mean things to scammers.

  • All I'm doing is wasting their time.

  • And I think any time they're spending with me

  • is time they're not spending scamming vulnerable adults

  • out of their savings, right?

  • And if you're going to do this -- and I highly recommend you do --

  • get yourself a pseudonymous email address.

  • Don't use your own email address.

  • That's what I was doing at the start and it was a nightmare.

  • I'd wake up in the morning and have a thousand emails

  • about penis enlargements,

  • only one of which was a legitimate response --

  • (Laughter)

  • to a medical question I had.

  • But I'll tell you what, though, guys,

  • I'll tell you what: any day is a good day, any day is a good day

  • if you receive an email that begins like this:

  • (Laughter)

  • "I AM WINNIE MANDELA,

  • THE SECOND WIFE OF NELSON MANDELA THE FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT."

  • I was like, oh! -- that Winnie Mandela.

  • (Laughter)

  • I know so many.

  • "I NEED TO TRANSFER 45 MILLION DOLLARS OUT OF THE COUNTRY

  • BECAUSE OF MY HUSBAND NELSON MANDELA'S HEALTH CONDITION."

  • Let that sink in.

  • She sent me this, which is hysterical.

  • (Laughter)

  • And this.

  • And this looks fairly legitimate, this is a letter of authorization.

  • But to be honest, if there's nothing written on it, it's just a shape!

  • (Laughter)

  • I said, "Winnie, I'm really sorry to hear of this.

  • Given that Nelson died three months ago,

  • I'd describe his health condition as fairly serious."

  • (Laughter)

  • That's the worst health condition you can have, not being alive.

  • She said, "KINDLY COMPLY WITH MY BANKERS INSTRUCTIONS.

  • ONE LOVE."

  • (Laughter)

  • I said, "Of course. NO WOMAN, NO CRY."

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • She said, "MY BANKER WILL NEED TRANSFER OF 3000 DOLLARS. ONE LOVE."

  • (Laughter)

  • I said, "no problemo.

  • I SHOT THE SHERIFF."

  • [ (BUT I DID NOT SHOOT THE DEPUTY) ]

  • (Laughter)

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

A few years ago,

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【TED】James Veitch: This is what happens when you reply to spam email (This is what happens when you reply to spam email | James Veitch)

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    LEO posted on 2016/04/18
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