Lucy Vickery

We’re scamming

In Competition No. 3074 you were invited to submit a scam letter ghostwritten by a well-known author, living or dead.
Falling for a scam is costly and tedious (and more easily done than you might think), but the comedian James Veitch found a silver lining when he decided to engage with his persecutors: the ensuing correspondence — lengthy, labyrinthine and often hilarious — went on to form the basis of a popular TED talk and book.
It was a tricky assignment, judging by the smallish postbag, but you made some clever choices of author whose prose style lent itself well to the art of phishing: poor spelling (Molesworth via Geoffrey Willans); apparently outlandish claims (Kafka). The winners, printed below, earn £25 each.

Dear Supporter of Justice
Someone has been telling lies about Mr. A. He has been taken in, to his great exasperation, for questioning on a subject about which he knows nothing. He had intended to go out in the evening — despite the snow falling, it was a pleasant walk — when his freedom was arbitrarily curtailed. Despite his protestations, has he been listened to? On the contrary, he has been sedulously ignored. Has he perhaps misunderstood the gravity of his predicament? Has he offended anyone? It is a bad dream! Since his arrest, the experience of which he found both troubling and yet trifling, he has had a run of luck which would tax the most decent and honest individual. The only way to assist Mr. A. is to provide him with a decent Advocate. You can help by donating to his JustGiving page at Thanks in advance.
Bill Greenwell/Franz Kafka
Felicitations from the Holy Land,
Where I, the sole survivor from a band
Of mercenary soldiers stashed away
Much booty; and concealèd it shall stay
Until a boat’s procured to sail me home.
I found your name within the Domesday tome,
A family respected and adored;
And honest — one I wish to share my hoard
Of riches with, for gems and jewels and gold
In England can be fortunately sold.

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