This week I got an email from the FBI. I noticed it in my junkmail folder, blending in with the usual spam emails telling me I’d inherited a large sum of money from a complete stranger in Bulgaria, or warning me that my bank account will be closed if I don’t immediately click the link and update my password.

But since  this one was from the FBI, I figured I should check it to see if it was real. I mean, the FBI are not the kind of organisation you want to ignore. It could be important! (Although I couldn’t imagine what the FBI could want with me, unless they had caught up with all those parking fines from 20 years ago, when I bought a car for $800 that I couldn’t yet drive.)

Emails from the FBI – that’s serious stuff. On a scale of 1-10 of seriousness, if they send you a letter by post, that’s only a 2. Nothing to sweat about. An email is about a 5. If they phone you, it’s a 6. If they bug your phone, it’s an 8. If they send a SWAT team to smash down your door and raid your house in the early hours of the morning when you are in bed asleep, and you end up being led out of your house handcuffed and in your pyjamas – that’s a 10.

I didn’t want this to escalate any further, so I opened the email. To be honest, (and I suddenly felt compelled to be as honest as possible) I didn’t really wonder what it was about, since the subject line of the email screamed at me, “You visit illegal websites!”

Really? I wasn’t aware of visiting any illegal websites, unless they meant that I had looked up recruitment websites when I was at work!

On opening the email, I saw that it was sent from info66663@FBI.gov. I now felt completely confident that the email was legitimate. The FBI are a large organisation, who would certainly have at least 66663 receptionists. Obviously they allocate each of them an individually numbered “info” email address. It seems not only plausible, but efficient. A lot of other government departments could learn a thing or two from their personalised approach. Clearly, receptionist number 66663 had been allocated my case, and was keen to get results. He/she (it was hard to tell) had emailed me to say:

Sir/Madam, we have logged your IP address on more than 40 illegal Website. Important: Please answer our questions! The list of questions are attached. elo atq kk

Overlooking the little outburst of nonsensical typing at the end of the email, the email seemed pretty genuine. (I mean, who bothers using plural these day?) I decided that the FBI must be an accessible employer, willing to employ a receptionist who has dyslexia, or perhaps Tourettes Syndrome.  If this was the case, “Info66663” was doing a great job, and it would not be helpful for me to focus on his/her one little mistake. Then again, perhaps those letters at the end of the email indicated qualifications, like CSI, MD, Phd, or HRH. Then finally, it struck me that they were probably code. I preferred not to try and analyse what the code might stand for. Eg, perhaps it indicated how long I had to respond, before I would be “erased”. Best not to know.

In the end, I didn’t feel that I was in a position to criticise an email from the FBI, so I decided to focus on the positives. I admired “Info6663″‘s  straight-to-the-point style, and ability to eloquently capture the heart of the message, ie, that I should answer the attached questions. This made me really want to assist poor old “Info66663”, but unfortunately, to access the list of  questions, I had to click on a link.

That’s where “Info6663” made his/her fatal mistake.

Click on a link??? Yeah, sure!! And then what? Download a virus onto my computer? Have my computer hacked into? Knowing my luck, I’d probably somehow end up being framed for visiting illegal websites!!! Come on, “Info6663”,  you can do better than that! I may be almost I.T. illiterate…..but I’m not that silly!

I decided I’d wait for the phone call.

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