Spam, spam, spam, scammers and spam

So I have a thing about spambots, as you may have noticed (seeing as “spam” is one of my most-used tags). Recently I’ve been searching for apartments, as my lease is up as of July 1st. I’ve made the big decision to move out on my own, sans roommates, but I’m beginning to regret that decision, as it’s nigh impossible to find a good, affordably-priced apartment suitable for one occupant in a major metropolitan city (as I’m finding out). I don’t blame the cost of utilities, location, demand, or any other factor for that difficulty more than I blame spambots.

Every time I find an affordable bachelor or one-bedroom apartment in a desirable location (i.e. not Scarborough), I begin a conversation with the person who posted the ad. (I should mention that I am searching online classifieds, and am probably just asking to be scammed.) Here is what it looks like when I email the poster:

Hello, my name is Kate and I am interested in renting your apartment at [location]. Are the utilities included? Is a July 1st move in date okay? And when will you be available this week to show me the unit?

Thanks so much!

~Kate

And this is the general email I’ve gotten in return (from about a dozen different people, at this point, and I’ve only been searching for just over a week):

Hello,

I got a contract job in an engineering company/missionary service/consulting firm for a construction project/religious retreat/big huge job deal thing as part of the structural engineers/dalai lama/royal anteater to build a highrise building/eat some moon pies/pee on boats in London, United Kingdom/Kuala Lumpur/Africa. I am a Building tech specialist/June bug/circus clown, so my accommodation period in [wherever, who even cares] will be about 4 years, so that’s the reason why i am renting out the unit. I do not intend to make profit out of it all i want is to find a good and clean person to take good care of the place/keep the apartment tidy/fill it with bees. I`m the owner of the unit and it is furnished but if you want you can make use of your furnitures and help keep mine in the storage locker which is situated both in the unit and in the building and these does not attracts any funds. [what does this even mean?!]

The monthly rent that am requesting for is $600/$550/$400 and some cheese and these rent is to service the bills which includes all utilities (water, electricity, Internet, cable, 1 parking spots, air conditioning, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator, stove, laundry in-suite, washer and dryer) the monthly rent you will be paying includes all this and they will be taken care of as soon as you pay your rent/give me all your money.

Everything in this unit is functional and in good working conditions. Once you started staying in the unit and there is any case of any repairs which is as a result of normal faults like leakages, you will get in touch with me and i will get it fixed, i am in possession of the keys to the apartment which makes hard for you to view the unit [unless you are Superman and have x-ray vision]. You can move into the unit when you receive the keys [NO REALLY??] but the only problem is that am the only person who has the keys but i hope that we will be able to reach a compromise on this. [in plain speak: give me money and hope like hell that I’ll give you keys.]

TERMS AND CONDITION:
~The lease is month to month , 6 month or 1yrs and can be renewed ~It can be rented furnished or unfurnished ~ You will have to take good care of my unit ~Utilities are included in the rent ~Pets Allowed Any further questions please contact and get back to me for the pics and address of the unit. Thank you for your interest and i`m awaiting your response/money.

Thanks.

A lot of the time, the sign off paragraph is loaded with attempts at inducing guilt. “I am haveing for hard times trusting those that wouldst rent of my apartments” and that sort of thing. As if I’m the one that might swindle the person who has six hundred of my dollars and much of my personal cheese collection. As if, after sending them money on good faith, I might somehow get keys to this magically cheap apartment and… what? Never pay them rent again? Which would be hard to do in the first place, seeing as they don’t own any apartments in real life anyway.

These scammers must think they sound convincing, but I’ve yet to find one with a functional grasp of English sentence structure, let alone a convincing reason why they’re asking for money to be wired via Western Union to MALAYSIA or TEXAS, USA. I even had one scammer tell me “Moreover,i would have love to show the apartment to you in person because you have every right to see the apartment you are renting because a lot of fake landlords are on the internet but my friend who ought to handle the deal on my behalf is presently running a management course in Australia.” That is copied and pasted directly from my email.

I am simultaneously frustrated by and amused at the scammers I’ve found while trying to find my next home. While they’re certainly not helping me find a place to sleep/store my useless crap, they’re at least entertaining me (albeit in the least entertaining way possible) while I struggle. So, thanks?

Advertisements

The greatest dream

China, summertime. A large group of travellers and locals gather for a group photo near a local temple, including me and my newly met friends (whose names I forget but let’s be honest since it’s a dream they probably aren’t all that offended). After the photo, a party: people attempt to converse in their second languages, translators ease the conversation, all is well. Until the snacks are served.

For some reason, the Chinese locals are unfamiliar with the snacks – Smartfood – and a mass hysteria begins, wherein people ingesting the popcorn begin to believe they are spiders and begin to attack. My first instinct is to call in Batman, but then I realise since he is not actually a bat, he will not eat these spider-people. Since I hate Smartfood, I am immune, and though at first I genuinely believe that the food is turning people into seizing, demon hell-beast spiders, I soon realise (after reading a TIME magazine article about the abuse that the sufferers must endure once they are detained by the military) that these people have not been infected by some sort of cerebral virus – it’s simply mass hysteria, further encouraged by the media. After realising this, I and Philip Seymour Hoffman emerge from below the office desk where we were hiding, and set up a plan to capture a spider-man (heh) and study him to see why the hysteria has been so deeply effective.

We stretch packing tape against the nearest doorway and act as human bait to lure the zombie-like spider-people into our trap. We know they rove in packs of four so we have to be ready, once the first spider is caught, to stave off the other three. Surprisingly, our primitive trap ensnares all four, who rush blindly together in confusion and end up tied up on the floor like some kind of Scooby-Doo villains. At this point, before we can study them, soldiers burst through the doors and haul them away, and we are defeated in our quest to solve the puzzle that plagues the nation.

Sometime later, still during the outbreak of spiderdom, I am in a convenience store, merely browsing. A man comes in, distraught, and tries to shoplift some Play-Doh. The cashier notices, begins to yell at him, and threatens to expose him to the crowd of spider-men roving menacingly in the back alley. I quietly place some Play-Doh in my sweater – green, brown, white and black – and exit stage left. When the man is finally booted out of the store by the cashier, I hand him the swag and beat it back to base camp. The man follows me, explaining that his home had been broken into by the spider-people and subsequently looted, and there was nowhere for he and his young son to stay. I invite them both to come chill with me and Philip Seymour Hoffman. He agrees.

Back behind the office desk, the little boy is making caramel apples out of the Play-Doh I managed to purloin, while hallucinations take over and I am convinced the door is a portal to hell, with screaming spider-people whizzing past us to the outside world. (Important to take note that apparently an office desk will save you from all this.) Hoffman shakes me, tells me to get a hold of myself, and eats some Smartfood right in front of my face. I am horrified. I scream that he can’t do this to us, the resistance needs him… until he grins, and reminds me that this is all just mass hysteria. That was exactly the wake-up call I needed, and though I read in TIME magazine that one of my new friends is dead, I bravely step around the front of the office desk and call the rebels to action.

Philip Seymour Hoffman steps outside the pagoda wherein we were hiding, and bravely stands out on the stone platform surrounding the temple. Men and women are everywhere; being chased and beaten by the military, chasing and beating the military; general havoc abounds. Hoffman steps into the fracas and demands that everyone give him attention. They stop. He reaches deep into his bag of Smartfood and eats an entire fistful. He announces that there is nothing to be afraid of – it’s just food. Terrible, artificial-tasting food. People look around at each other. Some are embarrassed, some are weeping. The soldiers administer one final kick for good measure, and drive off in their Jeeps. There is silence.

The people near the temple all shuffle back to the risers where our initial photo was taken. There are fewer of us now, and I’m reunited with my surviving friends. The man and his son emerge and join us. Our photo is taken, we are survivors.

EPILOGUE

It is a year later, and I am back in the village which I visited on that fateful summer when so many lost their lives. A man is sitting in his window when a letter blows in – he opens it, but cannot understand it since it is in English and he only reads Mandarin. He hands it to me, smiling, and I see that it is covered in Zoidberg stickers – a little inside joke between me and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I smile. As I tuck the letter into my pocket and turn around, a familiar shout gets my attention, and the little boy comes running up to me, arms outstretched. I ruffle his hair – he’s grown a lot in a year! – and accept the Play-Doh caramel apple that he thrusts into my palm. I stand and smile at his father, who smiles back and takes his son’s hand as they turn back to the home they rebuilt.

Also throughout the whole thing I had this awesome British accent.

My little sister gave me a bear

Apparently the best thing for writer’s block is a little brown plastic bear with big eyes. This is according to my baby sister, anyway. I asked her what I should write and she exclaimed “this!” as she thrust the toy in front of me. And I thought, why not? After all, most of her philosophies hold water.

For example, she theorises that since her job isn’t math, she won’t do math. Makes sense. She also seems to think sideways shuffling is a more effective mode of transportation than the traditional “evolved bipedal forward motion,” and currently is exhibiting the benefits of inverse standing over the more common “standing on your feet.”

I think society as a whole needs to adopt an attitude like this. Draw things that don’t exist. Sing as you skip down the street. Make up words (and dance routines). Make room in your life for a little reckless abandon. Maybe if we all lighten up a bit and stop taking things (like math) so seriously,  we can all be as happy as this little pixie.

Eugoogley

Before our mum went to bed, she was googling the three of us. Awkward, I know. We came to discover that my brother’s name, when translated from Vietnamese, is Hybrid Heart. Wicked. And so she doesn’t feel excluded and yell at me, my sister’s name translated from Vietnamese becomes Alex Future. WHO MAKES A BETTER SUPERHERO. I DON’T KNOW.

Also, turns out my brother has a lot of fans who think he’s hot. Even more awkward.

They’re humming the Recess theme song now, and it’s weird. (My brother and sister. Not my brother’s fans.)

Blog Party!

My siblings and I are all home for the holidays.

My siblings and I are all addicted to the Internet and our respective blogs:

Alex: http://tiltherewasrock.tumblr.com
Tim: http://itsnotmywordsthatyoushouldfollow.tumblr.com

My siblings and I are all, therefore, sitting in the living room on different computers, blogging at each other and leaving weird comments in each others’ inboxes. This is a blog party. These are their stories. *KUNG KUNG*

“I’m going to use bad grammar. And I’m going to use… wrong… grammar bits.”

Alex understands my pedantic attitude towards the use of the English language. She doesn’t care.

“So Kim Jong-Il won’t be able to look at things?!”

Tim gets upset about the loss of a tumblr account.

“We need a tape recorder for this conversation.”
“We need an actual recorder.” *plays the air-recorder*

Alex has questionable taste in musical instruments.

“Oh good, while I was tagging, ‘weird’ came up automatically.”

My blog understands me.

Me: Tim, say something funny.
*Tim gives me the most withering oh-please glare*
Alex: Why is it that in some places gay people aren’t allowed to marry, but Nickleback is still allowed to make albums? Think about it.
Tim: Alex… what.

Alex shows how much she loves creating awkward silences.

“Why did I just write Napoleon, I meant to write Nickleback”

I show questionable typing abilities and a total lack of concensgfertation

to be continued…

Wednesday is the new Tuesday

So because yesterday was supposed to be comic day, but I was busy writing a 12-page paper for Irish class, I had to postpone the posting till today and declare today officially Tuesday instead. So set your calendars accordingly.

I don’t understand this. If your phone rings while you’re in the bathroom, occupado shall we say, WHY on earth would you answer it?? (As a sidenote – my mum calls this “multitasking.” Hang up if she tells you she’s multitasking.)

Whenever I hear a phone ring in a public bathroom, and the person actually picks up, I always flush immediately. Because you are being weird and making me uncomfortable, and toilet-flushing is a risk you knew you were taking when you picked up that phone. DEAL WITH IT.