Note: For those readers unfamiliar with the correspondence between Mr. Benito and me, I suggest referring to Anthonio Benito Wants To Spear My Life, which includes his original email to me and my response. I’ve also reprinted his original email below as a footnote.1
So, Anthonio, how’s business?
OK, I admit that I was initially disappointed when I did not receive a reply to my proposal to enhance the quality and impact of your extortion messages. Now, however, I discover that the misspellings and the grammatical errors, however egregious, are small potatoes compared to what I must reluctantly assess as the clumsy execution of your business plan.
I am, in fact, now writing to withdraw my earlier offer.
Let me explain, …
The Tragic Flaw
From a Google search that reveals several references to exactly the same email message I received, I conclude that your basic idea is to broadcast to many individuals the threat you sent to me – i.e., that you will carry out a contract to kill the recipient unless he or she pays you $12,000 – in hopes that those who believe they are at risk will indeed forward the cash to you.
I must also conclude that, unless you are attempting to build a “big box”2 franchise along the lines of a Best Buy of Murder, that you were not, in reality, hired and never intended to actually cause the demise of these victims. I wouldn’t be surprised, in fact, to discover that those to whom you refer as “my boys” don’t exist either.
Now, I do acknowledge that this paradigm, which is, I believe, similar to the so-called “protection racket,”3 affords certain enviable benefits, not the least of which is the altogether delightful prospect of recognizing a profit from not performing a given act.
Compared to hiring oneself out to bump someone off, the advantages of your scheme are numerous. Labor costs, for example, are minimized by eliminating the time-consuming and inconvenient necessity of actually tracking down a victim, verifying his or her identity, finding an opportune time and place to finally whack him or her, and making good ones escape.
And, based on my research,4 the price of doing business in the hit man trade is not trivial, requiring as it does costly weapons (which are frequently tossed away or destroyed after a single use) and ammunition, a system of secretive communication, paying off the local police, and travel expenses. Moreover, a murder attempt carries the inherent risk of retaliation from the intended victim, retribution from those affiliated with the victim, and, naturally, arrest and conviction. Betrayal by ones own associates is not, I understand, unusual.
Yep, the business of making threats to lots of folks and collecting $12,000 (nearly all of which is profit) from a fraction of that group beats the heck out of working as a hired gun.
Yet, I must point out that your tactics are tragically flawed.
As you have no doubt realized, the easiest way to increase your profits is a matter of elementary statistics – simply sending those email missives to a larger number of people. Spam operations depend on a relatively stable fraction of responders buying the product. If 1 in 1000 addressees respond to a certain emailing, sending that email to 2,000 addresses rakes in 2 responders, sending it to 10,000 brings in 10 responders, and so on. As it works out, sending a spam message to larger populations entails little in the way of incremental costs.
Here’s the problem. According to the Feds who contacted me, Anthonio, you’ve been, consequent to your understandably enthusiastic pursuit of profit, a profligate, rather indiscriminate emailer. And some of the folks you’ve emailed are, as the expression has it, not amused. Do you remember that part of your message that goes, “I just felt something good and sympathetic about you [the recipient]?” Well, it turns out that “good and sympathetic” are not traits likely to be attributed to or even valued by some of those recipients.
Anthonio, Anthonio, Anthonio, … what were you thinking when you sent those death notices and extortion threats to government officials? Did you even check the addresses on that mailing list?
In any case, you didn’t email just any old government officials, did you? Noooooo, you sent your ultimatums to people who are, for example, employed by the agency eager to go to war with another country based on what turned out to be nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. These are the folks, Anthonio, who brought us Guantanamo, the Bay of Pigs, and the occasional assassination of troublesome foreign leaders.
It seems that many of these individuals lack my nuanced sense of humor and any appreciation whatsoever of your entrepreneurship. In compensation, however, they do seem to possess an overdeveloped capacity for anger and, for – well, what I suppose I would describe as a particularly nasty form of vindictiveness.
And, Anthonio, they are seriously and personally miffed about the email you sent them. The good news is that they seem willing to overlook the spelling and punctuation errors.
Goodbye and Good Luck
Now I suppose if I were you, I might have played it cagey with the agent who was asking about your email and then sent you a (properly written) message offering my silence for a $12,000 payoff but, frankly, it would take lots more than $12,000 to make it worthwhile for me to mess with these guys.
Instead, I must, as noted earlier, withdraw my offer to provide a tutorial to improve your writing skills. You may wish, however, to pursue make this a self-improvement project. If so, here are a few frequently misspelled words for your study:
Note: Originally posted June 4, 2008 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com
from Red Bullet Point
date Tue, May 27, 2008 at 4:09 AM
subject SOMEONE YOU CALL YOUR FRIEND, WANTS YOU DEAD.SOMEONE YOU CALL YOUR FRIEND, WANTS YOU DEAD.I felt very sorry and bad for you, that your life is going to end like this if you don’t comply, i was paid to eliminate you and I have to do it within 10 days. Someone you call your friend wants you dead by all means, and the person have spent a lot of money on this, the person also came to us and told us that he wants you dead and he provided us your names, photograph and other necessary information we needed about you.If you are in doubt with this I will send you your name and where you are residing in my next mail. Meanwhile, I have sent my boys to track you down and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation, but I ordered them to stop for a while and not to strike immediately because I just felt something good and sympathetic about you. I decided to contact you first and know why somebody will want you dead by all means. Right now my men are monitoring you, their eyes are on you, and even the place you think is safer for you to hide might not be. Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? It is up to you. Get back to me now if you are ready to enter deal with me, I mean life trade, who knows, and I might just spear your life, $12,000 is all you need to spend.You will first of all pay $4,000 then I will send the tape of the person that want you dead to you and when the tape gets to you, you will pay the remaining $8,000. If you are not ready for my help, then I will have no choice but to carry on the assignment after all I have already being paid before now. Warning: Do not think of contacting the police or even tell anyone because I will extend it to any member of your family since you are aware that somebody want you dead, and the person knows some members of your family as well. For your own good I will advise you not to go out once is 7pm until I make out time to see you and give you the tape of my discussion with the person who wantyou dead then you can use it to take any legal action.
Good luck as I await your reply to this e-mail contact: [email protected]
- Also known as, ahem, a “category killer.” [↩]
- Protection racket is defined by Wikipedia as “an extortion scheme whereby a powerful entity or individual coerces other less powerful entities or individuals to pay protection money which allegedly serves to purchase ‘protection’ services against various external threats” [↩]
- I viewed both “Grosse Pointe Blank” and “Mr and Mrs Smith.” [↩]