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Letter from Burkina Faso

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I sometimes open my inbox to find unexpected emails from people who have found me through the Song of the Open Road Travel Blog. The one that I printed below is from a “banking official” from Burkina Faso who wishes to engage me in a “business” deal so that we can both easily get rich and live out our days in lethargic paradise. Or, to put it more poignantly, he wants to engage me in a business deal so that HE can get rich off of my money, and I can be the shmuck that fell for an African internet scam.

These are the types of scams that seem to have become common since the internet has made its way to Africa. I at once scoffed at this email and forgot about it. I do not really have any money to loose anyway. But then I remembered a story of an American guy who lost everything on one of these internet scams, and I then recognized the potential significance of posting this email as a potential warning. People sometimes fall for these tricks. They seem exciting, and I was almost tempted into getting into contact with these people just to learn how they work. But I must admit, I do feel a little cheated here, usually these scams involve pictures of beautiful women from Nigeria . . . maybe if this guy posed as a gorgeous West African woman who wanted to marry me I would have been a little more interested. Haha.

The letter from Burkina Faso:

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Hello Dear,

This mail might come to you as a surprise and the temptation to ignore it as unserious could come into your mind but please consider it a divine wish and accept it with a deep sense of humility I am Mr Morris Okpole, the manager incharge of Telex/computing department of Bank of Africa (B.O.A)Ouagadougou Burkina Faso in West Africa, with due respect and Regard,I have decided to contact you on a business transaction that will be very beneficial to both of us at the end of the transaction.

During our investigation and auditing in this Bank, my department came across a very huge sum of money belonging to one of our deceased customer who died on July 30th 2000 of a ghastly motor accident and the fund has been dormant in his account with this bank without any claim of the fund in our Custody either from his family or relation before our discovery to this development.

Although personally, I keep this information secret within I and to enable the whole plans and idea be Profitable and successful during the time of execution,the said amount is U.S $15.m(fifteen million, United States dollars),as it may interest you to know, I got your impressive information on my search for a relaible partner,I contacted you to be my partner and person to be reliable and capable to champion a business of such magnitude without any problem.

Meanwhile all The whole arrangement to put claim over this fund as the bonafide next of kin to the deceased, get the required approval And transfer this money to a foreign account has been put in Place and directives and needed information will be relayed to you as soon as you indicate your interest and willingness to assist me and also benefit your self to this great business opportunity,In fact I could have done this deal alone but because of my position in this country as a civil servant and we are not allowed to operate a foreign account and would eventually raise eye brow on my side during the time of transfer because I work in this bank.

This is the actual reason why it will require a second party or fellow who will forward claims As the next of kin with affidavit of trust of oath to the bank and also present a foreign account where he will need the money to be re-transferred into on his request as it may be after due Verification and clarification by the correspondent branch of The bank where the whole money will be remitted from to your Own designation bank account.

I will not fail to inform you that this transaction is 100% risk free,on smooth conclusion of this transaction, you will be entitled to 30% of the total sum as gratification, while 5% will be set aside to take care of expenses that may arise during the time of transfer, while 65% will befor me , please you have been advised to keep “Top Secret” as I am still in service and intend to retire from service after we conclude this deal with you,I will be monitoring the whole situation here in this bank Until you confirm the money in your account,and ask us to come Down to your country for subsequent sharing of the fund According to percentages previously indicated and further Investment, either in your country or any country you advice us to invest in and all other necessary vital information will be send to you when I hear from you.

I suggest you get back to me As soon as possible and also include your personal phone/mobile And fax numbers for easy communication.
Yours faithfully,

Mr Okpole Morris
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So there it is. A cleaver scheme to make my boring life seem a little more exciting so that I feel like the special person who was chosen for this great opportunity. The trick seems to be to make me feel as if I was selected by destiny for this venture; to make me think that I am, in fact, and extraordinary individual who has all of the ability and standing to pull the deal off.

It is my impression that people wish to think that special things happen to special people. Nobody thinks that they are ordinary, everyone thinks that they intelligent, extraordinary. Maybe we are all just waiting for the world to vindicate and discover our hidden potential. We wait, and then one day we open up a letter in our inbox from a Mr. Okpole Morris who “got your impressive information on my search for a relaible partner,I contacted you to be my partner and person to be reliable and capable to champion a business of such magnitude without any problem.” I understand how people can fall for these scams. They are exciting.

In Morocco I became very interested on the psychological tricks that hustlers use to separate tourist from their money. I think that I am going to start a collection of such scams, as they are oftentimes pretty ingenious works of human deception. In order for them to work the hustlers need to know and really feel human nature. These guys spark my imagination.

Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Albion, NY, USA
January 11, 2008

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Filed under: Africa, Burkino Faso

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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