Thursday, February 20, 2003

Deposed African Tyrants Need Love, Too

Is anybody else as amused as I am by this new form of spam/scam email, in which the offspring or widow of some deposed African governor or military dictator asks for your personal banking information so they can smuggle several million dollars out of their countries? They claim they'll pay you a hefty commission on those millions, which range in size from eleven to two hundred and fifty. They have these wonderful hard-luck stories about how they've been left virtually penniless after the latest political coup, and on top of the loss of their husband or father, the loss of their millions is too heartwrenching to be believed. They are even written with African-sounding speech patterns, for that touch of verisimilitude.

Today I got one on my domain email from a man who has been separated from his family's millions because he is gay and out. His father, a diplomat of some reknown, left a hazy Will behind that was not clear about the disposition of his wealth as concerned his gay son; after the father died and the government changed, the confusion was intensified, and he can't get his hands on any of the money. If I would just send him my full legal name, social security number, and the routing number of my checking account, he will deposit eighteen million dollars to my name, and I get to keep ten percent... and help out a fellow homosexual who has been deprived of his family's love and money because of his sexuality. I should have saved the email for later perusal and amusement, but I tend to be a little trigger-happy with the delete button on my domain email, where all of my porn newsgroups and retail newsletters are routed.

Whether or not these hard-luck stories are true, I find myself wondering where and how the deposed gentlemen managed to amass such mind-boggling fortunes? This is the Third World we're talking about, and many of these little countries have a GNP lower than the sums I'm being asked to smuggle out. How does a diplomat, of any reknown whatsoever, amass that much cash in American dollars?

Anyway, I find it amusing. I like to imagine that it is true. There's a romance in the pleas of deposed rich people after a revolution. Being at heart a Royalist, I can't imagine myself helping out the deposed military dictators of tiny third-world nations; but I like to think of them struggling in their new-found poverty, finding at last a certain nobility in their losses, adapting to a new way of life and being at last vindicated when the government changes again and they are recalled to their former positions of glory with a newfound respect for the poor. It's very literary.

I am not, however, going to send anybody the routing number to my checking account. That's just stupid. I wonder how many people do exactly that? I like to think about those people, too, blinded by greed into handing over enough information to drain their checking accounts and leave themselves as poor as the people they think they're helping. There's a lovely symmetry in such a scam.

Anyway, I'd better be running along. Much to do today.

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