Money in the Emails 

I feel very important.

Every time I receive an email from some princess of an African tribal king, or some widow of a Latin American dictator, or some grandson of a Middle Eastern ruler, who needs my help, I feel special.

A halo will briefly hover over my head.

These people tell me they have millions of dollars stacked up in some vault in some country’s central bank.

And they tell me I have the power to help them get their money released - from government control or from some tax complications. Me?

They just need my willingness to help them. And they just want my bank account details.

But, do they know that I cannot retain even 1000 dollars at one time in my bank!

What will they do if, I respond? Will my bank account get credited with 1.32 billion dollars? Will that poor little rich window whose husband got killed in a coup, ask me to marry her too? How does she look?

These are the complex questions which prevent me from responding to those people seeking help.

But friends tell me I am doing the right thing. They tell me I must not fall for these scams. They tell me about money laundering. They tell me of very smart cons -- who seek only information first, fees next, and more money after that, from the silly, gullible me.

They tell me to be careful about such mails; especially, if they come from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Congo, Gabon or even Iraq.

But here is news that might surprise my friends.

According to Thursday’s BBC news, more than 43 million US dollars (34 million British pounds) have been seized from a flat in Nigeria’s main city, Lagos.

According to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the anti-corruption agency, officials raided the flat after a tip-off about a “haggard-looking” woman in “dirty clothes” taking bags in and out of the flat.

And what did they find?

Apart from US dollar notes worth 43.4 million, investigators found nearly 27,800 British pounds and some 23 million naira (USD 75,000).

And interestingly, the “neatly arranged” cash was stashed in “sealed wrappers” in wardrobes and cabinets in the seventh-floor flat of the affluent Ikoyi area in Lagos.

Meanwhile, in other news from Nigeria, in this week itself, I read that the oil companies Shell and Eni admitted to a different type of money laundering.

Both, Royal Dutch Shell and Italian oil major Eni, bribed a known money launderer in Nigeria to secure a $1.1 billion joint exploration deal off the country’s coast in 2011.

It is said that the top executives at Shell and Eni knew the money they paid for oil block OPL 245 would go to former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete.

And Etete, a convicted money launderer, has likely dispersed the payments to other government officials, including former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

Of course, there is no known connection between the money found at the flat, and the money that went through greasy palms.  But, it still makes me queasy.

Like Shakespeare’s rose, money laundered or unlaundered will still smell the same smell of money.

And now what will happen to this money?

This lady seems to have not taken any help to get the money out of her country.

Should I feel sad for the woman? Maybe it was the Princess I got that email from, and maybe she is the one I would have got married to.


Oh, if only I had responded to her desperate emails!

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