Imagine my surprise when I checked my PC this morning and found an email from Bill Gates! I have spoken to one or two Microsoft directors in my IT journalism days, but never his Billness, so this was really exciting. In fact, I'm so excited I'd like to share the email with you. Here it is, word for word:
FROM MR.BILL GATES (get back to me)
RE: FINANCIAL AID
Many write me for Scholarship, Sponsorship, Financial Aid, Invitation (visa Purposes), Variety of other items and Services; in as much as I would like to help I decline this request since I do not have much resources to meet them, and refer all appeal to:
The Committee of The Microsoft Promotion.
If you need my help as stated above your request shall be send to them for consideration If approved as one of the winners you will be paid the sum of $USD1,250,000.00 only.For more information write me with the following:
DIRECT TELEPHONE NUMBER:
For security purpose, the money will be paid to you through AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINE (ATM) to enable you make withdrawal through any of ATM at anywhere in the world.
Yours in Microsoft Corporation,
Bill W. H. Gates.
Now, call me cynical or something, but one or two points worried me about this. Why did Bill's list of reasons people wrote to him sound best read in a phony Russian accent? (Go on, try reading it aloud, it really works.)
Secondly, I know Bill is famously tight (I don't know about you, but I absolutely believe the old story about him holding up a supermarket checkout queue while he searched through his pockets for a voucher for a few cents off a purchase). Even so, I don't think that with a straight face he could write 'I do not have much resources to meet them'. I suspect his grammar is better than that too.
Finally, I'm fascinated to discover that the sum of $1,250,000 will be paid through an ATM. Let's say it issues $100 a second. That would take 3 3/4 hours to issue. Don't you think there would be a bit of a rumpus in the street? Oh, and 'Yours in Microsoft Corporation'? What's that all about?
All in all, and with much regret, I'm inclined to think that this was a fake. But just in case, if it was you, Bill, and you happen to read this, drop me an email. I'd love to hear from you.
P.S. Next time, don't use Google mail. I've heard of keeping your enemies close, but that's ridiculous.