Messages From “Lori”

Everything you are about to read is true. I come from a large, close-knit family and I write a lot of fiction on this site, but what I’m about to tell you is not fabricated. I have been contacted by a scam artist and I’ve been saying the most long-winded and insane shit I can think of and they just keep replying to me.

My mom has 9 brothers and sisters. Janice, Andy, Lori, Suzi, Lisa, Adam, Julie, Aaron and Raquel–and supposedly one of them sent me something very strange this week…

If you’re just here for the screenshots, I understand. Go ahead and skip ahead. See if I care.

Growing up, my mother took us to Michigan to visit our grandparents most summers and her brothers and sisters would bring their families–some lived locally and others at different places throughout the country–to Michigan also at the same time and we would all spend the summer as a big extended family. My mother did this so we would know our aunts and uncles and so that my sister and I would grow up knowing all 24 of our first cousins. Decades later, our family is still very close. Just last week, I had lunch with my mother and her sisters Julie and Lisa and I will probably be taking a road trip with my mother up to Michigan later this year. I’ll drive the two hours to her house from the Gulf Coast to Central Florida and then the two of us will drive to the small town where she grew up. I’ll stay at my aunt’s house and go around the state with her for about a week and then I’ll fly back home and my mom will stay on for a month or more. While we’re there some of her other brothers and sisters will probably visit from other parts of the country just like they always have done since the 80’s and 90’s. I’m almost 40 now and I’ve made this trip with my mother dozens of times throughout the years and I always look forward to it. Growing up knowing these people has been a real privilege. Most of my aunts and uncles are good people. I find that two of them are better avoided and can stay over there where they are and growing up, my cousins were some of the best friends I had. It’s been a meaningful part of my life and I acknowledge how lucky that I am to be a part of this family. Not a lot of people have two parents that are still married after almost 40 years and a great big family they know so well.

Lori is my aunt and I’ve known her all of my life. I’m close with Lori. She invites me to her house in the Carolinas for Thanksgiving every year. Most of the time, I don’t go. I don’t make excuses. I’d love to go every year but most years, I’m unable to get there for different reasons, and my lack of acceptance of her invitation has never stopped her from extending it. Every year. For over a decade. For Thanksgiving in 2022 I was able to attend and she hosted me and my dog Max at her house for a week, along with 30 other people and a few other pets. It was great. I brought cake.

Once when I was probably about 12 or 13, she “borrowed” me from my mom to take me along with her son Jake from one side of Michigan to the other. I don’t remember where we were headed, but I do remember that this was before GPS was widely available and we got lost for hours. We were lost for the better part of a day but nobody was worried or irritated. It was fun. We were having fun. My memory is vague, but I think at one point she realized we were in a town where she was sure that someone she went to school with lived. Now, this was probably in the days before everyone had a cellphone in their pocket and yet she somehow figured out how to get ahold of this person (a payphone and phonebook maybe?) Although it was the middle of the night, we boys ended up sleeping in this stranger’s guest room while she and Lori caught up. That’s the kind of woman Lori is. If she calls you in the middle of the night and says she’s in town, she’s not the type of woman who you’d question why she’s calling so late. She’s the type of woman you open your home to after midnight. Eventually we made it where we were headed, and it was a fun journey that she still brings up from time to time. I hope she knows that I enjoy that memory almost as much as she seems to.

I’m close to Lori because I’m close to her son Jake. He visits the town where I live pretty frequently and we usually meet up for beers when he does. When my grandfather died, Jake picked me up from the airport in Atlanta and we drove to his parent’s house in the Carolinas. My mom had driven there and then decided to leave her car at Lori’s when my grandfather’s health took a downturn. The day he passed, she asked me if I wouldn’t mind going to the house with Jake and driving her car up to Michigan for her. Everyone in the entire family was coming. A big family is fun until it isn’t fun anymore and when that happens you need to get in your car and drive away from everyone before you start fantasizing about drowning yourself in the bathtub or drinking bleach just to stop all of the noise. If you have a big family, you understand what I mean. If you don’t then understanding this is going to be impossible for you.

Lori is outgoing, fun and spontaneous. Some of my favorite family memories are spending time with her specifically at gatherings. There was also a point in my life that she randomly called me two or three different times in the middle of the night–we’re talking 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and my phone would ring and Lori’s face would be on the screen when I looked. Most of my mother’s family goes to bed very early. They say “let’s watch a movie” and then fall asleep on the couch during the title credits at the beginning…but Lori and I have always been night owls so she’d call because she was bored and wanted to chat and I guess she figured I would be awake. I don’t sleep a lot of hours most nights, so of course I was. I always found these random calls enjoyable and comforting and I don’t remember ever thinking about how strange it actually was that my mother’s sister decided to call me so late at night and out of the blue until hours after we were off the call. I actually wish she’d do it again every once in a while.

I’m telling you all of this so you’ll understand how close I am with this woman–I am close with most of my mom’s brothers and sisters actually–but Lori in particular so I’m telling you all of this because I want you to understand that when I read the first message sent to me by someone pretending to be Lori, I knew immediately that it wasn’t her on the other end of the chat. I read the message and said, this is clearly an imposter–but it might be fun to message them back. I knew it wasn’t Lori because I don’t think she’d ever start a conversation with me by saying “Hello, how are you doing?” We just don’t communicate like that. Loose acquaintances communicate like that.

At first, I was pretty sure that I was communicating with a bot, but then it just kept on going for a few days and from their latest message, I think this might actually be a really real fucking person who is really fucking clueless.

The reality is that it doesn’t matter to me. What they’re doing is scummy and I want to waste their time. This has been delightfully fun for me because I’m not an idiot…well, I am an idiot because I wasted so much time doing this, but I’m not the type of idiot they were hoping for…there are people out there who are not very smart and would be confused by what this nefarious beast of a human being is doing and they might give them everything they had in their bank account… So for that, I hope this person and people like them die a tortured, painful death.

Lastly, If you read all of this without skipping ahead–thank you. It means a lot that you’re here and I appreciate you and…

I hope you enjoy.


This was the first of several A.I. generated images that I sent to the scammer. Every time I added something a little more absurd, I expected them to say something or block me but they never did. I felt as though this image looked almost real but not quite real enough, so I implied something about how this book was supernaturally preventing me from shooting a clear image of it no matter how little I seemed to move. I didn’t say that expressly but that was how I meant for it to be interpreted. I thought for sure that adding something like this was going to be a bridge too far, but the scammer kept on going.

Here when I was about to describe an elderly, blind horse, I opted to send a disturbing image of an elderly, blind horse instead so I described the horse to MidJourney and marveled at the outcome. I really expected that this thing–this thing that was so much stranger than the last thing–this thing was going to be the thing that was too unbelievable and would result in the end of the exchange…but it wasn’t.

Read what’s written beneath the barcode.

This is the full size of the image that I sent. I intentionally made it very small so it couldn’t be read and also ensure that if the image was opened in the chat window it would be too blurry to make out what was on it.

I did this on an impulse and I did it very quickly. As you read on, you’ll see that this decision was almost the catalyst to the undoing and ending of every stupid thing I had wasted time writing these past several days.

Look at how frantic they are to get those juicy, delicious Apple card numbers. Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie! I’m an Android guy and I always have been. I’ve never owned an iPhone or bought an Apple product, so how was I supposed to know that Apple gift cards always start with the letter “X.” I wasn’t going to keep this up much longer but I really was looking forward to arguing with them about how they were mistaken about the cards not working. I just bought them! Of course they work! Now I know for next time. Lesson learned. Time to end this.

But first! Check these out! I photoshopped all of these, matching the font of the gift card images I found online as best I could. Some are just random strings of letters and numbers and if you’re a millennial and a big fucking nerd, you’ll also recognize that some of them have funny shit written in 1337 (“Leetspeak”)

I wasted about 4 days worth of this scammer’s time. Was it also a waste of mine? Kind of. I’m a writer so I write. It’s what I do. Even if the writing isn’t good it’s always important to keep your tools sharp. This was a fun creative exercise for me if anything else. Do I think he read everything that I sent to him? It’s clear from his responses that he did not. I didn’t expect him to. In fact, I knew he wasn’t going to. He clearly was at least skimming it because he managed to pick up something he thought he could use: I don’t do gambling anymore nor casino.


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