Lately I've been getting emails from people asking me to help transfer large sums of money into a bank account. These people are usually from far away places like Pickareno or Blastafunktown; they do not speak (or write) English very well and most of the stories involve recently deceased relatives they never knew who left them a pile of money, usually ranging from 7 to 20 million dollars (hitherto called a shitload) (and yes I just said hitherto because that's the kind of language these people use) that needs to be collected asap. ASAP! Here's where the story gets confusing. They need my help to get this money but first they need me to send 1000 dollars from my American bank account into the Blastafunktown bank so that the shitload will be released, at which point they will be more than happy and grateful to share with me, usually 50-50 but sometimes 60-40, because, after all, it is their Aunt "Barbara Mary" who just passed. Sometimes these letters go on and on, sometimes they are only a couple of desperate, unpunctuated sentences.
Here's one I got this morning from Leung Cheung:
I need your assistance to Transfer abandoned sum of $22.5 MILLION dollars from Hing Kong to your country we share 60% 40% if positive contact me as soon as possible.
I love that 22.5 million dollars was just abandoned somewhere. I imagine 50 brown sacks with dollar signs on the front sitting on a desert highway, tumbleweeds blowing past. Leung drives by in an old Chevy Impala and sees them there, not sure at first what they are. He slows the car to a stop, gets out and has a look. When he realizes what it is (22.5 million dollars!!!) he can't believe his good fortune. He tosses all the sacks into the trunk of the car and speeds off, leaving a cloud of dust and pebbles. One of the thousand dollar bills sails gracefully out the window but what does he care? Let some poor trucker get it when he stops to pee on a cactus. There's plenty more where that came from!
So, after a long happy drive back to Hing kong (he has whistled and giggled and hummed the entire trip), Leung gets home and carries the sacks inside. Immediately he becomes paranoid. What if this is a trap? What if I start to spend this, what if I walk down to the local corner store and try to use one of the thousand dollar bills on a hairnet, and a swat team of 600 come out from nowhere and riddle me with bullets? Aaaaagh. It's too horrible to imagine. For weeks old Leung tosses and turns.
He gets an idea. Deposit it in an American Bank! That way he can launder the money and no one will track it back to him. The person who helps him can just wire it back to him, or send him monthly checks. Of course, he'll give a cut. 40% is more than generous. Probably too much. But that's ok, it's worth it. But how? Who can do this?
He calls Mark Zuckerberg and asks him for his top ten list of most gullible people. Mark faxes it to him in code. Leung gets the fax and runs his name down the list: ERDRIED SIWEL
And that's how it comes to me....
Oh. How I wish this was true.
I would still be counting my money right now.