What is the hidden message in this email?

You recently purchased an item from Chicago Zires:

  • Product Name: TI-06 Thermometer [FANCY]

  • Product ID: 2016196120160206206240312172617201809010

  • Price: $122.61

  • Shipping: FREE 32-day Shipping from Baltimore

  • Method of Payment: Credit Card 1617-0707-1312-2116

If you did not make this purchase, please click here to cancel.

Order ID: 1461606166052501016081204130309616081902

Hint 1:

First letters of each line are significant.

Hint 2:

Erg... even I can solve it.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ the stuff in italics is: ahZoreFgBnycunorg $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Dec 15, 2016 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ Does this need the steganography tag? $\endgroup$
    – boboquack
    Dec 15, 2016 at 8:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If it doesn't, something's disastrously wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Dec 15, 2016 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ (So I added it.) $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Dec 15, 2016 at 11:26
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I wonder why nobody has linked "Code puzzles: What not to do?" yet, because this is a case in point. Only the hidden italics are "gettable"; the rest is just guesswork. There are too many numbers in the text. How are we supposed to know that we should look at the first letters of each line when they yield the nonsense word PPPSM? The "Even I" hint is probably meant to look at even digits or letters or whatnot. How can we get this from the puzzle without the hint? You can't fix a bad puzzle with hints. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Dec 19, 2016 at 7:02

2 Answers 2



So, the italics are: ahZoreFgBnycunorg

Which rot 13s to Numbers to Alphabets)

Converting the Product ID and Order numbers to Alphabets(A=1.... Z=26), we get:


Random Thoughts:

I think that the "F" is either E or space in the plaintext going by its sheer frequency.(I would say, to convert the numbers into letters on your own as I am liable to errors) This looks like some sort of letter substitution cipher and I am surprised the OP isn't tagged as such.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I had tried to turn the numbers to letters early on (on a whim; I didn't decode the hidden message), but I stopped when I hit the 60 in the Product ID, because I didn't like the idea that single-digit numbers somtimes have a leading zero and sometimes not. Does a leading zero have a meaning, is it, for example, a space? Or are the indices zero-based? That would mean that the Z is a BG. Anyway, this number-to-letters pattern isn't unique and your frequency analysis only as good as your assumtion whether 124 is ABD, AX or LD. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Dec 15, 2016 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ (But the digit pairs of the credit card are all valid letter indices. Converting them yields PQGGMLUP, which doesn't rot x or atbash to anything useful as far as I can see.) $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Dec 15, 2016 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm while I agree that it doesn't currently convert to anything seeming useful, I think that the credit card might have something to do with it. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2016 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm I have added a hint. $\endgroup$
    – Oliver Ni
    Dec 16, 2016 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm The cipher tag has been added. $\endgroup$
    – Oliver Ni
    Dec 17, 2016 at 2:22

Partial - >

As per the hint -

First letter of each line is important. We get Y,P,P,P,S,M,I,C,O whose only meaningful anagrams are COPY PIMPS and SPICY POP which doesn't help ATM. If there is cipher involved, may be this forms a key. But not sure.

  • $\begingroup$ If we do Alphabets to Numbers, we get 25 16 16 16 19 13 9 3 15. Although it says Numbers to Alphabets, this might be a clue of some sort $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2016 at 13:33

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