BOOK REVIEW Re: Scamming the Scammers

Bob Servant Gives Spam Artists a Taste of Their Medicine

Delete This at Your Peril: One Man’s Fearless Exchanges with the Internet Spammers

By Bob Servant (Neil Forsyth)

Published by Aurum Press Ltd

Now Available

I have to admit, I’m somewhat partial to spam e-mail. Everyone says it’s a pain in the ass and they all spend money on programs to prevent it from entering their precious inboxes. But I say bring the spam on! It’s usually funny, sometimes poetic, and apparently, you can have a pretty good time responding to it. As far as responding to these e-mails goes, I’ve thought about it before and decided I probably have better things to do with my time. Luckily, author Neil Forsyth doesn’t, and he’s written an entire book about scamming the scammers.

In Delete This at Your Peril, Forsyth has carefully created a universe in which he responds to the e-mails under the pseudonym Bob Servant, an eccentric Scottish Cheeseburger magnate and part-time window washer. The exchanges between Servant and the junk mailers vary in content, but all reflect the stuff that goes into your Spamscreen on the daily. Haven’t you gotten e-mails from the lawyer of a wealthy foreign nobleman who has passed on and left you a large amount of money? All the lawyer needs in order to wire the abandoned funds directly to you is your social security number. Or perhaps you’ve heard from some stunningly gorgeous Russian female in need of a husband (and that husband’s bank account information). It’s all bullshit of course, but the schemes must work sometimes, or else the scammers wouldn’t keep sending them. Enter Bob Servant, whose game plan is to stop spam by spamming back.

And these scammers truly have no clue what they’re up against. Forsyth’s character Servant is a screwball with an affinity for alcohol, kidnappings, jungle cats, and “jazz mags.” He’s happy to over-indulge the business-minded spammers with excessive details about his life and fair-weather friends (Chappy Williams and Frank Theplank, to name a couple); he’ll recount crazy run-ins with the law, ask the fraudsters for advice about his relationship with the postman, and barrage them so thoroughly with nonsense that, in the end, the spammers are pushed to the limits of their patience.

Delete This at Your Peril weaves a witty, idiosyncratic universe into the concept of getting back at the bad guys. Though it might just seem like a simple do-it-yourself guide to getting Internet revenge, it’s actually a very good story, subversively told. All the better, the saga of Servant vs. Spammers continues weekly via his e-mail newsletter; check him out online for some more anti-spam inspiration.