Now I know why Nigerian e-mail scams work: no matter how incredibly stupid a scam or fake ad might sound, someone on the Internet will fall for it.
As a (stupid) joke, I posted a fake ad in the ‘free’ section on craigslist. For those three people who don’t know, craigslist is a monstrously popular “bulletin board” site where people from all over the world post ads, rants, advice, etc. You’re allowed to post anonymously, which is good, because the joke I did was so utterly moronic I’m surprised the Internet Stupidity Patrol hasn’t shown up at my front door and beaten me in the kidneys with rubber hoses full of sand.
The fake ad was, well, for a free walrus. Yes, that’s what I said: a free walrus. Here’s the ad with the incredibly skilled photo-manipulated picture I included:
Hi I live out in the country and I bought a baby walrus that I thought would make a good pet but he's getting too big for my family's bathtub so if you have a lot of room or run a petting zoo please come pick him up. His name is Louie and he is very friendly he likes fish. Sorry about the photo Louie is shy and my husband is poor and cant buy our family a good camera. But dont worry about that come get Louie please I cant bathe.
Okay, okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking: I must be damaged in the head. Rest assured I’ve asked myself the same question many times in my life, starting at the age of three when I licked an electrical wall outlet. Seven times. In the space of five minutes.
Of course, the craigslist ad was pulled in about an hour. Unless you’re posting in the “rants ‘n raves” or “casual encounters” section, deeply strange weirdness usually gets flagged for deletion by some self-appointed Internet sheriff.
I thought the matter was ended. But I was wrong. Checking my email, I received this reply regarding Louie the Walrus (last names & email addresses hidden to protect the stupid):
From: Dawna --------<firstname.lastname@example.org> Ill take him!
This email has to be a joke. Is there actually someone out there who believes a confused country housewife is keeping a young specimen of Odobenus rosmarus in an old cracked clawfoot bathtub full of tepid water & empty tuna cans?
Apparently, there are:
From: Shawn ----- <email@example.com> Oh, he's so cute...AAHHHHhhhhh!!! My Girlfriend loves him so much. Can we have him....??? huh, CAn we , can we.Please,,,,,,, Ok wait. Just bathe with him alittle while longer. Feed him good Fish. Lots of Herring and Rock Cod cuz this is the best tasting fish. He only deserves the best.!! Fatten him Up!!! Cuz winters cummin and I have an empty Freezer.... Hurry, FEED Him!
This enthusiastic responder really knows their walruses! I personally did not know walruses (walrii?) have a preference for herring and rock cod. Indeed, from what I’ve seen from nature documentaries, a walrus will choke down anything vaguely resembling a fish. I think when I was a boy of about seven I saw a midget in a scuba suit get swallowed by an massive grunting male walrus on the “Wild Kingdom” television show… but the memory is blurry.
Well, I’d feed Louie herring, maybe… but rock cod’s right out. You know how expensive that stuff is? Besides, Louie is perfectly happy with Captain Highliner’s raw fish sticks whenever one or two or thirty are thrown his way. I’ve always thought it’d be cool if walrii could be taught to talk like parrots, cause if I had a walrus, I’d teach him to say “more tartar sauce please”. That would be righteous, throwing fish sticks to a pet walrus in your bathtub and he growls out in an animal bass voice, “more tartar sauce please”. Yeah… yeah…
I’m getting off track. Okay, so my dumb ad wasn’t up for even fifty-nine minutes and I’d already received two responses from people who think I had a free walrus to give away. Oh, did I say only two replies? Turns out there are also people who aren’t interested in buying a walrus, but have plenty of advice to offer:
krista <firstname.lastname@example.org> Hi Have you called the torontoi zoo? I'm sure they will be more then happy to come get him
Oh, yes, I’m sure The Toronto Zoo would be more than happy to pick up a nearly man-sized barking marine mammal crapping in a stained, cracked bathtub from some creepy guy’s creepy apartment’s bathroom. They’d also gleefully charge me with gross walrus abuse, and I’d go to jail. And while I’m locked up the other inmates will ask me why I’m in prison, and after they hear me say, “walrus battery in the first degree”, my new convict buddies will beat me up. Not because they want to, but because they have to.
But this horrible little Internet drama isn’t over yet. Just as I received an email from craigslist saying my free walrus ad was pulled, this gem burbled through the Internet tubes:
Susan ------ <*********@rogers.com> Hi there. Do you still have this baby Walrus? I can find him a good home for you; most likely with one of the Zoos where he should belong actually. They would have the expertise to take care of his physical as well as make him into a happy Walrus. I am quite serious about this. Please do not just give him to anybody. I need to speak to you first and then I can start making contacts by phone. Get back to me and I will help this little fellow. Sincerely Sue ****** (416)6**-****
I… I… I just don’t know anymore. I used to have faith in the human race but that feeling is now an empty sucking black hole of confusion, fear, and regret. I actually held the foolish notion that we, the people on Planet Earth, were progressing, making headway, evolving towards a brighter future.
But let me tell you this: any so-called “sentient” race made up of individuals believing other individuals give away free walruses over the Internet… well… that race wasn’t sentient in the first place.
Maybe I’m being a little rough, but please read the above e-mail again. Take note of the ludicrous phrases, “Do you still have this baby Walrus?”, “make him into a happy walrus”, and “I am quite serious about this”. And may I also draw to your attention the nice lady gave me her phone number?
That’s right. Some almost-terminally gullible woman out there gave her phone number to a completely deranged walrus-abusing maniac on the Internet. I am so tempted to phone her up and, during our conversation, I’ll play loud barking walrus sounds from a YouTube video while I scream at “Louie” to “stay in the goddamn bathtub”. Just to up the emotional ante, I’ll open-palm slap a raw steak over and over again near the phone so it sounds like I’m backhanding the little aquatic bastard, too.
Naw, I better not do that. Somehow she would get my phone number and the police would show up with tasers for me & rock cod and a net for “Louie”. Still, so tempting…
In Conclusion: my fake craigslist ad was up for approximately an hour, and I got four responses from people who thought I was seriously giving away a free walrus, which has to violate so many laws I can’t even begin to want to imagine it.
This works out to one serious inquiry every fifteen minutes. Now do you see why e-mail scams work? Hell, I could probably sell a brown sofa cushion with black round eyes drawn on it in magic marker on eBay, because someone out there will believe it’s a real walrus.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go thaw some fish fingers for Louie, he’s barking for dinner. SHUT UP YOU OVER-FED MOUTH-FARTING WALRUS! Damn, but I’ll be glad when someone finally comes and picks up Louie… I think he watches me when I pee.
SlackerDan is a comedy writer and a lover of all animals, especially walruses.. walrii. He has never actually kept a walrus in his bathtub. He has, however, fallen asleep in the bathtub while resembling a walrus.