Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm going to be rich

At last I’m going to be rich
Robert A. Hall

I’ve always thought I wouldn’t be spoiled by big money. Finally, I’m going to find out. And I’m not going to do those rich-people things. I don’t plan to buy a huge mansion, run for the US Senate, or get a super model for a trophy wife.

I’m not even going to quit my job. I like the people I work with and it’s important work. My wife and I will travel more, get that sailboat, and maybe a Jeep for me.

I’ll help out family members, support our church and contribute to some charities.
You’re probably thinking I’ve won the lottery. Not so. I buy the occasional ticket, but that woman who pulls the numbers has been a sore disappointment to me.

Nope, my wealth is coming from my new friend Mr. Boniface Obaseki, Chief Auditor of the African Development Bank in South Africa. See, Mr. Obaseki has a little problem. He’s discovered an inactive account at the bank with $126 million dollars in it. And if he doesn’t “remit this money out urgently it will be forfeited for nothing.” That would be a shame.
According to my e-mail from Boniface (partners should be on a first-name basis) the account belonged to a Mr. Smith B. Andreas, a minor/geologist at the Kruger Gold Company, who “died since 1990.” If I’d known geologists did that well, I’ve have changed my major in college.
But never mind. Boniface needs my help, because the money has to be remitted to a foreign bank. And his secretary, who operates the computer and “believes in God” that I’ll “never let him down,” found me, “a reliable and honest person.” He wants to transfer this amount to my local bank, which may be a tad surprised at the influx of cash.

Good thing he picked me. I mean, a dishonest person might have kept the whole bundle, rather then the 35% I get for helping him, plus expenses. Since my share comes to $44 million and change, I’m his man.

Oh, I was suspicious, but Boniface assured me we would sign a binding agreement, as this was “real and genuine” business. He asked me to keep this strictly confidential, because I’m the only person he’s told about the money, so don’t you tell anyone.

Since there’s so much money floating around Africa that doesn’t seem to have an owner, why shouldn’t I get a chunk? In the past, I’ve received several letters from Nigeria, from various important folks needing my bank account number and contact information to get big money out of the country. About ten years ago, they started to come by e-mail.

All are urgent. All involve several million dollars. All come from someone highly placed. Lately, various relatives and attorneys of the late head of state, General Sani Abacha, are desperately trying to get many millions out of Nigeria, offering me from 15% to 25% if I’ll help.

I’m glad I held out, though. Getting 35% of $126 million is the best offer yet. Maybe it’s because this money is in South Africa—most of the offers come from Nigeria. Some are now coming from Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippians.

These are known as Nigerian scams or “419” scams, after a seldom-enforced section of the Nigerian Penal Code.

Their plan is not to get your account number, (you could open a new account), but to get you hooked on the idea of great, though shady, wealth. Then it turns out—so sorry—that an up front payment is needed for a bribe, or advance fee for the lawyer, or export fees, or whatever.
Once you are on the hook, you will be sent demands for more payments, official looking documents and even invited to visit Nigeria or another area country. Then the scam may become kidnapping. There are reports of people missing and murdered.

Think people aren’t that dumb? As of 1995, an estimated $5 billion had been duped from the feckless and greedy. Some claim this is Nigeria’s third largest industry.

If you get a scam letter, fax or e-mail, you can fax it to the US Secret Service at 202/406-6930. Mark it “no financial loss—for database.”

You can learn more about these scams at the 419 coalition website: This and other scams are also detailed at

Con artists say, “You can’t cheat an honest person.” If you’ve got doubts, the rule is, if it sounds too good to be true, it ain’t true.

But I still feel bad for old Boniface. He put his faith in me, and I let him down. So did everyone else in my office—we all received his “exclusive” e-mail.

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