Perhaps the most illiterate phishing spam yet: ignoring the incompetence of having Velez Restrepo as the sender, jg_van88 (at a Chinese address) as the reply-to, and Mr(.) John Galvan as the alleged sender, with the X-Accept-Language set to Spanish, this message has at least 20 linguistic errors in the text, which is roughly one for each four words.
Wed Dec 15 11:11:57 2010
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2010 03:11:43 -0800
From: velez restrepo guillermo <email@example.com>
Subject: Comprehend This Proposal
X-Mailer: Sun Java(tm) System Messenger Express 7.3-11.01 64bit (built Sep 1 2009)
I am Mr John Galvan a staff of a private offshore AIG Private bank united kingdom.
I have a great proposal that we interest and benefit you, this proposal of mine is worth of £15,500,000.00 Million Pounds.I intend to give Four thy Percent of the total funds as compensation for your assistance. I will notify you on the full transaction on receipt of your response if interested, and I shall send you the details.
Mr. John Galvan
The errors I count as linguistic begin with the strange subject line, which instructs me to comprehend. There's a reason why the verb comprehend is very rare in imperative clauses: comprehending is not something you can be told to do, it has to happen to you. My job as a professor would be very different if it made sense to command that students comprehend what I'm trying to explain, rather than just hope.
The message has mistakes at all levels of orthography (e.g., random capitalization), lexical choice, and syntax. Don't ask me about how that occurrence of thy got in the percentage expression; I have no idea.
The programming work involved in getting a Sun workstation to send out carefully prepared scam bait to a million people is surely quite significant. So every day as I delete things like this (no spam screening spotted that it was spam, incidentally), I find myself wondering why scam spammers don't find an English-speaking partner in crime who could correct the text to make the message vaguely plausible as a cold-call letter from a responsible English bank staff member with access to lost accounts? I guess it's because they are somewhere where they could no more get their hands on a literate native English speaker than they could come up with "£15,500,000.00 Million Pounds".
There aren't many clues to language origin in the message. The time zone it appears to have come (eight hours earlier than the time in the UK) from is the one for the Pacific Coast of the Americas — but that's probably just the address of a hijacked
zombie workstation in Seattle or Los Angeles email account on a machine in Colombia (thanks to a commenter below for pointing out that very plausible hypothesis). The language is bad enough that I'm inclined to think the genuine part is the firstname.lastname@example.org address in China. Feel free to mail him and waste his time if you think it would be fun, but I have emails to delete, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.