(It’s time for this week’s Flashback Sunday, when step into our time-travel machine, buckle up, jettison ourselves into the past, but not before someone realizes they really should’ve used the restroom first…)
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 email@example.com, 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.
(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life,</strong is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble)
23 thoughts on “Online banking: Bringing Zimbabwe and Snakegut, Alabama closer together”
You didn’t just make me laugh.
You made me guffaw.
Love your work, sir. Very, very funny.
Hey, thanks Matt! I think I’m going to have a t-shirt made up: “I Made Matt Guffaw.”
Scratch that. The everyone will think I’m the father of some kid named Matt Guffaw.
But still, thanks!
This is so good. I receive emails from Nigerians, usually, who have an emergency and need me to send them 2000 pounds sterling. Then of course there’s the Nigerian Ambassador and other officials who need my help with some money situation. Lucy
I don’t consider myself worldly on the subject of world finances, but I have to think Nigeria has some serious money issues…
It must be real! A wealthy Zimbabwean (try typing that in the wee hours of the night) farmer? Still living in Zimbabwe? Having lived in the Deep South for a number of years, I can attest that Booger is as popular a given or nick name as Bubba.
Actually, I got tired of those kinds of emails. The spam filter would be defeated and I’d see a new round. Now, when I get them, I return the email with a cc back to our local police department which has an online fraud unit. Personally,I think it’s just one guy surfing youtube or something unmentionable in mixed company. At any rate, it works for several months.
Besides, those emails were tempting to me. My will was breaking down and I had to do something…
Juan, your inner will is obviously one of tempered steel. Or at least a very high-end aluminum foil…
What kind of cell phone is it? If it’s a 90’s Nokia weighing in at half a pound that vibrates so violently a call is measured on the richter scale then I wouldn’t go for it either…
Zimbabwan, Zimbabwanese, Zimbabwe-y, Zimb…didn’t it use to be ‘Rhodesian’, before King Mbagi got axed? Must have been a simpler time back then…
Oh, this post made me laugh, in case that wasn’t quite clear;)
I believe the most recent term is just “Zumba,” which is not only simpler to say but also a popular exercise inspired by running from the authorities in Zimbabwe.
That’s a word I can spell…thanks!
fine, then i guess my 2 dollars have gone to waste!
I pains me to think of all the financial heartache that could’ve been avoided if only I’d posted this sooner.
* wipes tear *
* eats Cheeto *
* forgets point *
Ironically, the same Mr. Booger Jones was tragically killed in a suspicious automobile accident. As his attorney, I need to find a safe place to temporarily transfer $1,000,000 from his Starbucks card, to keep the IRS from taking all of it. It’s clear from your postings that you are a most reliable person. If you would send me the account number and password to your checking account, I would show my gratitude by sending you two (2) tin cans, complete with kite string.
It’s a DEAL!
Wait, I’m no fool… what kind of kite string?
(This totally cracked me up, btw…!)
Too funny. I’m amazed these e-mails are still making the rounds. Do vulnerable readers still exist who have not heard not to touch these with a 20-foot pole? Ha ha.
I imagine there still must be people out there who fall for this, which to me is more frightening than the actual scams.
Have you read ‘419’ by a fellow Canadian, named Will Ferguson? After the read, I was torn about people who do this for a living.
I haven’t heard of it but will definitely look it up. Wait, it doesn’t involve syrup extortion does it?
NO. It’s not syrupy at all. Rather the opposite. If you do read it, I hope you walk away gobsmacked. Enough said. If you write a post or not, would be interested in your thoughts afterwards but not necessary.
Zimbabwean is in clear violation of International Palindrome Conventions. Any word with that many letters from the end of the alphabet should be a palindrome. I wonder how your new cell phone’s autocorrect deals with Booger.
My new cell phone only has half the alphabet, so it’s not dealing with it very well at all. And I completely agree with you on the palindrome issue. I think if your country wants to have that many letters from the end of the alphabet, you should have to buy them from Wheel of Fortune.
You’re lucky, my opportunity to make millions comes from Russia where it seems that English grammar is not a priority. Sometimes I’m not really sure what they need the money for.
Probably for Rosetta Stone English grammar tapes.