Robyn Gallagher

Adventures in words and web

Te reo Maori 419 spam

My dad received a scam email in te reo Maori. It’s a run-of-the-mill 419 scam, the “someone has died and had given you millionz of dollaz!” type. In this case, the generous cadaver is – according to Google Translate – “billionaire Business Mogul Late Mr. Moises Saba Masri, a Jew from Mexico”.

The idea behind these obviously stupid spams is they filter out all the smart people who can immediately spot the nonsense. What it leaves is the highly gullible, the type of people that a scammer knows will be worth spending time working on to get them to part with their cash. Putting the email in te reo adds an extra layer of implausibility to filter out even more.

So is there a te reo Maori speaker who’d read this and be all, “Wow, I didn’t realise I knew any billionaire Mexican Jews. What a kind and generous fellow”? I doubt it, but it’s interesting that te reo has made it onto the radar of the international scammers. Yay, New Zealand!

Update: A few people have pointed out that te reo Maori has recently been added to Google Translate, which is the weapon of choice for 419 scammers. But check out this info from Julian Wilcox. Intriguingly, Samoan and Tongan aren’t in Google Translate.

Update 2: Fairfax have written about the situation. The reporter asked me for a comment but – I am so lame – I forgot to reply to her email.

2 Comments

  1. Robyn, you’re on the internetz again! Hooray, good to see you break this news. Well, good for me, because every now and then I have to translate something into Te reo, and previously I only had the option of one word at a time. Now, thanks to you alerting the world to a spam that I honestly don’t think could EVER work – a Jew from Mexico with an Arab name from Egypt (Masri means from Egypt) writing to a Maori-speaking New Zealander about a Swiss bank account in England, sent probably by a Nigerian or a Russian…. – talk about international! – yes, so, at last I now know that google translate works with Maori. And I thank you for the story on possum world in Napier, which I have been past many times, but never been in, and now I really don’t need to, having seen how naff it is! Thanks Robyn.

    • I am always on the internetz, just sometimes I am in disguise (?) Also, you need to visit Opossom World. My words and photos only scratch the surface of the madness within.

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