Fraud and fairy tales : storytelling and linguistic indexicals in scam e-mails

  • Most of us receive numerous spam e-mails, texts that in one or the other way try to convince us to engage in the transaction of enormous sums of money, promising enormous benefits. In reality, such scam e-mails are fraudulent attempts to swindle money from unsuspecting Internet users. Language, its social contexts, and the composition of texts play a crucial role in the scammers’ strategies to approach their victims. This article uncovers and discusses some of the linguistic strategies by which scammers try to shape a sense of identity and mutual relationship – in the face of virtual anonymity –, and to involve their readers personally. In their attempts to get the recipients involved, scammers combine cultural indexicals, interactional roles, and narrative strategies. The analysis distinguishes three different narrative strategies in scam e-mails: Based on first, second, and third person stories, scammers establish links with the recipients by combining fictional content with real-world contexts. Some of the narratives display quite elaborate and artful traits and involve prototypical functions of traditional fairy tales. Hereby they implicitly connect the story content with the interactional roles of e-mail communication.

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Author:Florian Hiss
Parent Title (English):International journal of literary linguistics : IJLL
Publisher:Johannes Gutenberg-Universität
Place of publication:Mainz, Germany
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2015
Date of first Publication:2015/12/09
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/11/27
Tag:Spam; e-mail scam; identity; indexicality; interactional roles; narrative
Page Number:23
First Page:1
Last Page:23
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 41 Linguistik / 410 Linguistik
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:International journal of literary linguistics
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0