The Benefits of Being Boring


One of the joys of editing a small magazine is the unexpected perks it brings. It’s far easier, for instance, to make contacts and secure requests for interviews as Editor of The New Conservative, than it is as a mere mortal. However, undoubtedly my favourite benefit is the endless line of scams one is subjected to via email. 

I imagine anyone sane would view the morning sift through the flotsam and jetsam of the inbox as a major irritation, but that’s not the case for me. As I argued in Banalysis: The Lie Destroying the West (I know, forgive the shameless plug), ‘The cleverest and most beautiful lies are great works of art – they are the poetry of man’s evolution.’

Deciphering the lies we face 24/7 is to me one of the most intriguing parts of day-to-day life. While crap liars may be dismissed unceremoniously as unworthy opponents, every now and again one comes up against a new line or tactic one hasn’t heard before. And whether it’s deployed via politicians, ‘customer service’ departments, or the man in the street, I confess (no doubt perversely) I relish the challenge. 

It was with great enthusiasm therefore, that I received the following email last week:

Hi, my prey. 
This is my last warning.
I write you since I attached a trojan on the web site with porno which you have viewed. 
My trojan captured all your private data.
Then switched on your camera which recorded the act of your solitary sex. 
Just after that the trojan saved your contact list.
I will erase the compromising video records and info if you transfer $900 United States Dollars in Bitcoin.
This is address for payment: 1DesBFBVwxrx2jXRJsrqSa9JBYHMLAXV4C
I give you 36 hours after you open my message for making the payment. 
As soon as you read the message I’ll see it right away. 
It is not necessary to tell me that you have sent money to me. 
This address is connected to you,
My system will erased automatically after transfer confirmation.
If you don’t pay, I’ll send dirt to all your contacts. 
Let me remind you – I see what you’re doing. 
If you try to deceive me, I’ll know it immediately. 
I don’t live in your country. Bye. 
Don’t forget about the shame and to ignore, your life can be ruined.

Admittedly this is an incredibly shit lie. For a start, the misspelling and illiteracy are an affront to the English language. One can only assume (and pray) that this is a deliberate tactic to feign authenticity, and perhaps avoid looking too much like a bot? However, the carrot and stick at the heart of the operation are a little more respectable: my friend here is offering me the chance to avoid public humiliation for the very reasonable sum of $900 (he loses Brownie points for the ‘USD’ and the Bitcoin, naturally). Moreover, since he can ‘see what I’m doing’, surely he must be aware that I humiliate myself willingly on a daily basis with my choice of apparel?

The fundamental flaw in the email, I fear, is my correspondent’s choice of victim – not only am I a good decade past my sell-by date, I am also quite possibly the most boring bastard in Christendom.

Aged 45 going on 65, I consider a ‘wild night out’ to be a game of chess at the local club; and worst of all, I don’t even watch pornography. Don’t mistake this for any vague sense of morality (I’m probably on the libertine side of prudery), but I’ve never understood why watching other people pretend to have a good time is any substitute for getting your own leg over.  

I was about to give up and press delete when the email suddenly took an interesting turn. Not only had this guy come up with the greatest ever euphemism for wanking, ‘solitary sex’ – which I think I shall have to steal from hereon in, he’s managed to get my computer camera working; quite a feat, seeing as I don’t have one. Furthermore, he’s going to grant me a circle of friends I don’t have to ‘dish the dirt’ to, as well as some form of positive existence I could only dream of – Christ, I’d pay this guy 900 nicker any day of the week for the PR alone!

I allowed myself a few minutes, musing over my morning cuppa as to the best way to keep this new friendship going. Assuming I was dealing with a human at the other end, it would be nice to test out exactly how determined they were to ‘ruin my life’. As the tealeaves became discernible, I decided brevity would be best. Drafting the following response, I pressed send with the excitement usually reserved for the unwrapping of Christmas socks: 

Dear Sir or Madam,
Thank you so much for your generous offer. 
Regrettably, I only currently have $899 in bitcoin to my name.
Do you offer some form of payment plan, or will you be forced to proceed with ‘ruination of my life’? 
Completely understand either way.
Yours sincerely,
Frank Haviland

Alas, to my lasting regret the email bounced back within minutes: “There’s a problem with the recipient’s mailbox. Please try resending your message. If the problem continues, please contact your email admin.” Presumably Monsieur le con artiste is now so inundated with replies, he’s overloaded his mailbox? Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I even tried the payment link. Regrettably, that didn’t work either. Clearly my friend’s heart wasn’t really in it. 

It’s now been well over 36 hours since initial contact, although it is with chagrin I can reveal the tabloids have not been in touch. Still, I’m optimistic and holding out for offers – Dear Readers, there’s 900 quid with your name on it if you turn me into a porn star?

Frank Haviland is the Editor of The New Conservative, and the author of Banalysis: The Lie Destroying the West.