Scam I Am

Dear Mrs. Oguntade,

It was with joy and, I must admit, some degree of surprise that I received your e-mail of the 15th entitled “RE save our soul”. The joy, as you might imagine, stemmed from your generous though slightly bewildering offer to remit to me the kingly sum of USD$111,600,443 in exchange for my aid in helping you relocate to America; the surprise stemmed from my having, to my knowledge, no connection whatsoever to you, to your family, and indeed to your entire nation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am not sure — I hope not! — if you have mistaken me for someone else, or if you simply have read with pleasure my humble writings here on the Internet and have decided that my ability to make jokes about robots is somehow indicative of my strength of character and financial acumen.

If it is the latter, I must in good conscience assure you that, while I am more than happy to aid you in any way you can, it might be in your best interests to find another partner in your endeavor. You might have surmised, based on my sophisticated way of expressing myself and my publication in a number of small-circulation alternative weeklies, that I am a person of great wealth and refinement. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I work a modest and sometimes tedious office job at a company that does management consulting for local governments, and while I do have a bank account and a credit card, the former is mostly for the convenience of my cell phone provider, and the latter has a $100 spending limit and a picture of a sad clown on the front.  Also, I am a high school dropout. Thus, I would be unable to provide much assistance in helping you find a “viable business” here in America, as you request. I could be of some assistance in letting you know that in my country, if you have over two hundred million dollars, there are trained professionals — many of them, unlike me, possessed of not only an education but also financial expertise and a working automobile — who are more than willing to provide the aid you require, and for a much smaller fee than the $111m you have offered me. Indeed, for a mere fifty thousand dollars, I would be happy to give you the phone number of my local branch of Morgan Stanley.

However, should you be determined to use me as your partner, I am sure I could turn you on to some low-overhead, high-profit enterprises. Laundromats, for example, are a cash-rich business with very little initial investment; also, operating a parking garage is, I understand, highly profitable. Be warned, though, that you should not follow in the footsteps of your late husband — not only in terms of not becoming an the head of an African bank who was ultimately gunned down by the rebel armies of an unnamed neighboring nation, but also in the sense of operating a general store, which is a business that operates on razor-thin margins and requires a tremendous amount of volume buying in order to be profitable. (Allow me to interject at this point that my moral qualms about doing business with you — the $111 million , after all, having at least in some part been the result of your late husband’s rather unprofessional mismanagement of the nation’s resources — were in some way calmed when I considered that much of that cash probably came from American aid, which in turn came from taxpayer money, which in turn was at one point at least partially mine in the first place. Some people might call this a rationalization, but those people aren’t looking down the barrel of a sweet, sweet eleventy hundred million smackers.)

Anent your further request that I aid you in finding a house to buy upon arrival in the United States, let me assure you that this will be no problem. Someone with two hundred million dollars will have no trouble finding quality housing, even in a high-end market such as my home town of Chicago. I understand that the former home of science fiction writer Ray Bradbury is currently available, having been vacated by Mr. Bradbury having some time ago preceded your husband to the afterworld.  Perhaps you might want to consult the shade of Mr. Bradbury on financial matters, as he seems to have done pretty well for himself. At any rate, chase from your mind any thoughts of not being able to find adequate housing; if there’s one thing America knows how to do, it’s take care of its millionaires.

Finally, while I appreciate your delicate situation as regards your husband’s oldest son Joseph (try not to be too hard on him; second marriages are often difficult for the children), I am a tad perplexed at your inability to open a bank account in your own name. Though I understand he is monitoring you — and kudos on having the foresight to use a free, web-based e-mail service that must no doubt be difficult for him to trace — I would imagine that the securities company in Togo where your massive deposits of cash are stored would be able to set up a shell account, perhaps in the name of one of your children. Alas, I will be unable to help you in this regard (draconian banking laws and my own rather tetchy credit history make a such large-scale financial manipulation a very distant dream), and in fact will have to ask you to “front” me, as we say here in America, the cost of a plane ticket to Togo, unless you’re talking about the sandwich shop. Ha ha! Just a little American-style humor there. I find it helps get me through the day.

Looking forward to sharing your first American beers with you (you’re buying), I remain,

Your humble servant,
Leonard A. Pierce, Jr.

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