It’s not every day that I receive an email from a Zimbabwean prince who needs help relocating $20 million into an American bank account as soon as possible. In fact, in the last five years, I’ve only received this letter maybe 18 times. In each case, the letter explains that I’ve been chosen because I’m reputed to be a “dependable and trustworthy” person.
Given that this letter is always addressed to Dear Sir or Madam, I can only assume that my reputation is in fact so great that I no longer need an actual name.
Either that, or I’m not the only person to receive this letter.
Each time I’ve gotten this e-mail, I’ve deleted it because, let’s be honest: Who wants to spend time figuring out how to access their online bank account? I have no intention of adding to that headache (or potential jail time) by making a cross-continental transfer of millions of dollars from Zimbabwe.
Besides, having our checking account suddenly jump to over $20 million — I think — would look a little suspicious.
I’m sorry Mr. Hickson, but you don’t have money in your account to cover…Oh, wait a minute. Scratch that. Will this bagel be everything?
At the same time, what if it were true? What if there really WAS a South African prince desperately trying to move millions of dollars into the online account of a complete stranger? And what if my wife found out that I’d deleted his letter 18 times? And what if, after discovering this, she was sitting next me when 20/20 began telling the story of how Booger Jones of Snakegut, Alabama became a multi-millionaire after figuring out how to access HIS online bank account to help a Zimbabwean prince?
(And furthermore, why is it that, even after using Spell Check, the word “Zimbabwean” still looks wrong?)
Because of these nagging questions, I decided to do a little investigative work and make absolutely sure there was no “Booger Jones” living anywhere in Alabama.
To my surprise, I found 14 of them.
Which is why I decided to answer Prince Mbagi’s plea for help.
Now, in order for you to fully understand the scope of his situation, I will summarize his plight:
Prince Mbagi, the son of a wealthy Zimbabwean farmer killed by members of the South African government, is trying to find someone in America who will “inherit” his family fortune in order to keep President Mugabe from stealing it. As a show of appreciation, this person will receive $5 million and a free cell phone.
The only thing Prince Mbagi needs is an online account to transfer his millions to.
I know what you’re thinking — and NO, I had no intention of forking over my account number to a complete stranger until I could verify that the cell phone also came with free minutes.
The first step was to contact Prince Mbagi at firstname.lastname@example.org, which, I discovered, is an e-mail service providing “completely anonymous internet accounts.”
Naturally, this made perfect sense for someone in his dire situation. What didn’t make sense was that I needed a password in order to leave a message. Because I didn’t know it, I did the next logical thing — which was to try cracking the secret password by entering random combinations of the word Booger.
Not really; that would be silly.
I contacted the webmaster, explaining that I was trying to help a Zimbabwean prince looking for someone who could be trusted with $20 million.
His reply was swift:
I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Best of luck.
— Booger Jones.
Needless to say, I didn’t make contact with Prince Mbagi. I did, however, learn how to spell “Zimbabwean.”
See what I mean?
It still looks wrong.
(You can write to Ned Hickson at email@example.com, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, Or. 97439)