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.
@robyngallagher poor translation and part of it looks like its in Tongan and Samoan.
— Julian Wilcox (@julianwilcox) January 11, 2014