Scam Me: An exercise

by Mr. Sheehy

Some of my students have been studying how to determine whether a source of information is trustworthy, and we have used five helpful characteristics I grabbed from our writing textbook, Writer’s Inc. I then tried to make them more memorable with an acrostic, which kind of worked. What really worked was when I told students they could leave class early if they could tell me the five characteristics. They drilled those things like I was going to give them five bucks for knowing them, when in reality I was giving them no more than three minutes.


I have told them that this portion of the research paper unit is key, since it is where they learn not to get scammed. One example is my earlier post on faddish political issues and propaganda. Another classic scam (and one that is easier to teach) is the junk they get in their email. Alas, I always forget to save those beauties I get in my junk box every once in a while. I got a great one a few months back about my winning the Irish Lottery, and though I printed it, I didn’t save it to my hard drive. I also failed to keep that gem where I needed to forward some money to grab an inheritance from some dude in Africa I didn’t know. Today, however, I remembered in time to save an image of the scam, so here it is:

Scam Email

How many clues can you find? If you can’t see it well enough, you can view the larger image here. My fear, of course, is that my students won’t find any clues. Oh, boy – What will I do then? In that case, I suppose, I’ll have to put aside discouragement and remember that I have a job to do.

That or I’ll start sending notices home that their tuition is due and signatures for their field-trip permission should be printed clearly on $5 bills.