Mariam Germain needs your help—and probably lots of your money.

We’ve all received these little Internet requests to take people’s money off their hands. And you always want to write back, but you also don’t want them to know you’re alive. As an English teacher (with apparently too much time on my hands) I thought the least I could do was maybe help one of these lost rich souls to write a better request next time—to treat it like an assignment and maybe repair some of the flaws.

Here’s the original:

I’m Mariam Germain, the mother to Gerard St. Germain and Yvette St. Germain who both died untimely in an Egypt Air crash of 1999. You can view this web site for your perusal and find the names of my Children who also perished in that ill fated air disaster.,,196602,00.htm
I am from Malaysia, I lost my husband 3 years ago and I have been living with the pain till date. We are hospitable people and decided to serve mankind to the best of our ability. Since the death of my children (Gerard St. Germain and Yvette St. Germain), I have lived with the memories, fighting effortlessly to live a normal life but all to no avail. I suffered psychologically and shortly was diagnosed of Cancer. I write to you, having sourced your address from a database in my late husband’s internet dozier after fervent prayers. Before their death, my family had a joint account and deposited the sum of $2,850,000 . I need an individual that will utilize this fund inherently for these purposes: to assist the poor and helpless, motherless home, help disaster ridden countries. These are the wishes of a dying woman. Hence my decision as I do not have a child to take over my inheritance. All I need from you is Truthfulness, Honesty and Sincerity assuring me that you can in all h
onesty and obedience utilize the
Kinds Regards
Mariam Germain

My response:

Miriam—really a very good job—just a few glitches, if I may.

First off, Malaysia is fairly large. Adding a city would draw in the reader, make him feel more a part of things. It’s like saying “I’m from earth”—be more specific.

You say your children died untimely. That’s awkward—you’d have to say untimelily and that would make people laugh. Hardly fair to Gerard and Yvette who, incidentally, sound like stars of the French cinema. Why not more Malaysian names—I’d go with Jayden and Qaseh, but that’s just me.

If you have been living with the pain till date, may I recommend I believe they specialize in dates if that’s all you need.

You said you were fighting effortlessly, but that makes it sound as though you were traipsing lovelily from day to day. Unless you’re a boxer—a really good one, maybe tirelessly would better define your pain?

If your husband had an Internet dozier, that would mean he fell asleep in front of the screen. You probably meant dossier. Little mistakes like this can ruin a quality work.

Later you list as one of the purposes for your money, motherless home. Do you want to help the motherless get home? Maybe Uber could help. Clarity, Miriam, clarity!

And you don’t need to capitalize truthfulness, honesty and sincerity, though I’d like to see another comma. Ditto children and cancer. No caps. That comma thing? A style choice. Just being truthful, honest, and sincere.

I saved the best for last:  your ending, you can in all honesty utilize the is genius! It makes it sound as though you died in mid-sentence, your last breath spent trying to get rid of $2,850,000. Unfortunately, the kinds regards that follows definitely ruins the effect. See, if you had actually died mid-sentence, you couldn’t…well, you know. Good try though. If Shakespeare had had your originality, we would have seen things like

“The rest is silence.” Yours truly, Hamlet.

or maybe

“Lay on, Macduff, And damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!'” Sincerely yours, Macbeth.

In short Miriam, we have some work to do, but if you would like to spend some of that nearly three mil improving your writing skills, I’m glad to take most of it off your hands. Besides, if the real parents of those dead children ever find you, it might be better if you had no money for them to win in the lawsuit.

Kinds regards.


One Reply to “Mariam Germain needs your help—and probably lots of your money.”

  1. Hello, Chuck,
    Thanks for making me laugh this morning! I had received dear “Mariam’s” mail yesterday afternoon and was curious to read some comments of other addressees of this scam.
    It’s really astonishing how simply the “traps” are constructed, and the “bait” appeals mainly to fear, greed, pity, or sheer curiousity. Mostly it is a mixture of some of these ingredients.

    Yours sincerely

    N.B.: Not being a native speaker and not perfectly bilingual, I apologize in advance for any language mistakes!

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