A prudent scam

Photograph courtesy of Je PourrierI’m sick of receiving eager email messages from the managers of African banks or Dutch solicitors, offering millions of orphaned dollars in return for my bank account details. Add to these the frenzied requests for emergency loans supposedly sent by friends holidaying overseas, repeated lottery winnings from Microsoft and Google, and similar variations on a theme of unthinking avarice. Did I mention phishing scams from banks I don’t have an account at, asking me to log in immediately via a URL somewhere in eastern Europe?

These messages strain credulity without delivering the payoff of a truly entertaining story. If I’m to be the target of scams like these, I want to be entertained! I want inventiveness, a fresh angle. Damn it: if I have to, I’ll even write my own.


[note color=”#efefef”]

My dear Leigh,

I have a problem you can help me with.

I am naturally a prudent person. Time has punished me unreasonably for my prudence. Nonetheless, that same prudence has generated substantial wealth; wealth I now need short term assistance in managing.

In the late 1980s I was part-owner of an investment company that fared particularly well in the sharemarket boom. As was true of so many, it fared less well in the sharemarket collapse. Prudently I had set aside funds against such a reversal.

Alas, the Serious Fraud Office investigation found that I had been prudent only on my own account and not on behalf of our shareholders, and duly confiscated all my assets. Prudently I had already converted the bulk of my resources into portable wealth (fine jewellery, rare art, bullion, gemstones) and placed it in secure long-term storage.

You may recall the interminable trial of the early 1990s which resulted in all the company’s directors receiving lengthy prison sentences for breaches of confidence and fiduciary duty. Prudently I had already become a benefactor to several senior Corrections officers at the prison in which I considered myself likely to be incarcerated. The 2,922 days behind bars were notably less gruelling for me than for my fellow directors.

In the first three years after my release from prison my affairs were four times subject to close scrutiny from the Police (acting on information received, or perhaps invented), the Serious Fraud Office itself (a routine inquiry) and Inland Revenue (“random” but exceptionally invasive checks). Prudently I had foreseen this and ignored the temptation to redeem even a small part of my fortune.

In those years I was able to confirm what so many others know to be true: it is very difficult to make ends meet on the unemployment benefit. Prudently I knew enough about the proclivities of former staff – now in positions of trust within the financial sector – to be able to augment my benefit with regular cash payments.

Enough time has now passed for me to feel confident I can begin to convert my assets into cash without undue risk. It will be prudent to remove one or two items at a time, and return them – or at least their boxes and envelopes – thereafter. The process will take two or three years; two or three very remunerative years.

However, there remains a hurdle in my path.

Twelve months ago a new site manager was appointed by the security company whose vaults hold my assets. Naturally my pre-paid lifetime account there is not in my own name, but this jumped-up manager was of old an office administrator in our investment company! While he will not recognise my name, he will immediately recognise my face. He is sadly conventional and would undoubtedly bring the situation to the notice of the appropriate authorities. The attendant inconvenience would be considerable.

I have all the paperwork and credentials necessary to walk in and begin retrieving my wealth, but I need a different face. Prudently, I ensured the account details were gender and age agnostic, and none of the staff I dealt with when storing my valuables still works there.

Leigh, I am asking you for a little play-acting, no more. A few visits to the security company’s Tamaki vault in return for three quarters of a million dollars to be paid in instalments. Sending you this request is a sign of my confidence in your response. If a natural desire for advancement is insufficient motivation, you will acknowledge my prudence in acquiring some photographs whose posting on Facebook I believe you will be keen to avoid.

It would be prudent that we begin this operation within the next three months, taking advantage of annual leave and short-term staff to establish our routine without undue scrutiny. I shall need to briefly borrow your driver’s license and one of your credit cards; facsimiles of these in the account name will corroborate your identity (true experts in creating such documentation are hard to find, but prudently I’ve retained the address of one introduced to me some years ago – ironically, by a Corrections officer). If you would be so kind as to include these articles in your reply I shall see that they are returned to you without undue delay.

I look forward to working with you to our mutual advantage,


Photograph courtesy of Unasthetic
Photograph courtesy of Wim Hoppenbrouwers
Photograph courtesy of MM Ahaffie
Photograph courtesy of Debcha
Photograph courtesy of Cafe Mama