Online banking: Bringing Zimbabwe and Snakegut, Alabama closer together

Red necks 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, 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, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, Or. 97439)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

10 thoughts on “Online banking: Bringing Zimbabwe and Snakegut, Alabama closer together”

  1. “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.”

    Or gender, apparently.


    Once again, you’ve made my day. Or night. And after looking at the picture you thoughtfully included with your post, I’m crossing Snakegut, Alabama off my list of places to consider retiring to. I’m also investing in a 55-gallon drum of eye bleach. Eeep.

    1. It might be safe to rule out Alabama all together, Marcia. I lived in Georgia for 10 years and the only reason to go to Alabama was for the good fireworks. The drawback was using half of them to get back OUT of Alabama 😉

  2. I just spent far too much time — at work, mind you — reading about a zillion of your posts. I found you accidentally, but I am glad that I did.

    I appreciate your humor and have enjoyed reading your work. Thanks for a good chuckle today.

    Incidentally, I, too, have been invited to help foreign royalty secure proper funding in the States. And, (and I wish I were lying about this) I recently had two well-groomed gentlemen in appropriate uniforms come to my door and politely ask about my potential home security needs and offer to set me up with a free ADT security home analysis. I did decline this service and told them about my bloodthirsty Akida and finely-tuned infrared hidden camera system (wink-wink), so it wasn’t my house that was robbed later that week. And, when I called the township police to ask if ADT salespeople had filed appropriate paperwork to solicit in our community, I learned that they, in fact, had not. Hmmm…

    People are shady as hell.

    At least we can still laugh at their expense, though, right?

    1. First, thanks so much for your kind words. That said, I’m kind of hurt to discover that my friend the “prince” is isn’t financially monogamous 😉 And smart thinking about the “ADT” guys. Actually, even smarter thinking about the Akida (Wonderful dogs) — and great touch with the infrareds. Nicely played without going too over the top. I probably would’ve tipped my hand by saying my Akida had night goggles…

  3. I usually get the one where a rich Zimbabwe or Sudanese “banker” dies in a tragic plane crash leaving no inheritors………I wish……….nah…no…..I wont answer it………maybe if I had an account…..oh forget it too much work and I’m lazy…If I was going to get the money I want it fast and easy …I’m American we like things fast and have no time drive to the local bank and sign papers….I could use my moms……(remember I’m intelligent)lol

No one is watching, I swear...

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