Below the Beltway
by Gene Weingarten
Sunday, February 25, 2001; Page W03
“Welcome. You’ve got mail.”
Attention Gene Weingarten, I acstain your contact through a reliable source, in my search for a foreign partner to assist me in my business. I am Ali Watara the son of late former Minister of Mines and Natural Resource during the time of Major Koromah, the former Military Head of Sierra Leone, who was massacred by president Tijani Kabba.
My brother and I are refugee here in Accra, Ghana . . . Before the death of my father some months ago he disclosed to me some money he had deposited in my name in a neighboring country in West Africa.
The total amount of the money is $92.5m. US dollars all in a security vault . . . I am seeking your assistance because my father has declared the record with the security company stating that his foreign partner form Denmark shall be the authorized person to make claim on this consignment. No name was given by my father as his foreign partner.
To this effect, I request to make the beneficiary your name as foreign partner to Claim this consignment. For your assistance, room is open for negotiations.
This is an interesting sounding proposal. Would there be some sort of financial consideration for my participation in this venture?
I will like you to represent as my dads partner to make it possible for us to evoke this fund. For your participation in this transaction I am everready to offer you 15% of the fund, 5% for any expense that may be incured and 80% for my brother and I respectively.
That is a great deal of money . . . but I am confused why you have chosen me. I would need to feel secure that you are seeking my partnership because you have a particular regard for me and my skills. I am one of those persons who deeply values and cherishes the esteem of persons with whom he does business. If this is just about money, I am not really interested . . . Also, do you believe in God? I only like to deal with people who are pious.
Your potential business partner,
I appreciate the content of your mail, which clearly indicate your willingness to assist me effectively in realizing this golden opportunity. I have prayed and committed this transaction into the hands of God Almighty and I strongly believe that this relationship I am establishing with you on trust and in benevolent spirit will not lead to jeopardy . . . The lives of the rest of my family depend solely on this money and we cannot afford to gamble. That is why an expert like you is needed to lead me. Therefore, you will be required to come to Ghana immediately.
Will I have to pay for these travel arrangements myself, prior to receiving my [$18 million] commission? . . . One more question, before we begin this adventure: Might it be possible, when I arrive, that I be able to meet the president of Ghana or possibly the commander of the Ghanaian armed forces? I enjoy meeting heads of state.
Dear Mr. Gene,
Please take care of your traveling expenses and it shall be reimburst before the sharing of our percentages. About the issue of my chosing you, you see one thing I believe strongly is destiny. God work’s in a way that we humans hardly understand and that is why we call it miracle. I must do this business with a trust worthy foreign partner and that is why I prayed to God Almighty before my first contact with you.
Regarding the possibility of meeting powerful people when you come . . . I have a friend, a 32 year old son of one of the ministers who is widely connected in Ghana. He could possibly assist in that regards.
Super! One last question: You are not running the so-called “Nigerian Scam,” are you? That’s the infamous con game in which solicitations are faxed or mailed to Americans, preposterous schemes EXACTLY like yours, which play off Americans’ greed and any prejudices that might convince them they could make an easy buck at the expense of some backward African. And when these patsies get to Africa, they suddenly discover they need to pay out cash in bribes, and gifts of fountain pens, etc., and pretty soon they have spent thousands of dollars and never received a penny, and there never WAS any bank account! I ask because as I am sure you realize from my e-mail address, I am a writer at The Washington Post, and have even personally worked on a big story exposing the Nigerian Scam, and have spoken with Interpol officials, and if you WERE this group — I am not saying you are — then I would have to record our conversations, and our correspondence, and maybe even arrive in Africa with law enforcement officials, and write all about your operation.
Hoping to hear from you soonest!
No further correspondence ensued.
Gene Weingarten’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
\’c2\’a9 2001 The Washington Post Company