html 4.0 transitional//en"> Be assured, there is one born every minute

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Be assured, there is one born every minute....

My weekly e-mail from Africa arrived on schedule as it has for months. It seems I have friends over in the land of "Tarzan and the apes." The writer makes it clear that it is personal and must be kept confidential.

Personal messages from a stranger. I was not too reassured when I saw the e-mail address using a 'yahoo.com' Internet provider address.

This unknown confidant of mine is Adebayo Jubril and he said, though we have never met, he had the highest regard and trust in me.

It is always reassuring when people have confidence in us. Unless they turn out to be confidence men.

The e-mail read like a poor B movie script. Brother Jubril discovered the company he was in had 12.5 million U.S. dollars floating around unknown to others in the home office. For security reasons and to keep the money from thieves, he transferred the money to the Central Bank of Nigeria. After some boring details he made me this offer:

"We have agreed to let you have 25% of the money. This transaction is neither risky nor illegal, all we need do is to present your particulars as the beneficiary of the fund and the payment will be made in your favor."

Where do I sign? What a deal. All he needs is my particulars. Before I had time to check my resume for particulars another confidential e-mail came from a military man who needed my "urgent help."

A Lt. Col. Edward Udu, until lately, the Chief Security Officer to the late president Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, desired my assistance in transferring some money for him.

This Colonel Udu, when his president was assassinated, fled the Congo with 12.7 million in cash, arms and ammunition. He writes from Cotonu, Benin, South America. He is also a customer of Yahoo.com.

The Colonel, out of the goodness of his heart, is offering me 20% to help him in his noble venture. He writes: "I intend to keep our presence here in Benin low profile due to our popularity back home, so I request all information provided be kept secret and confidential."

There is no telling who these nut are or where they live. With e-mail you never know its actual origin. I talked to my Internet provider as to how professional hackers could trace such e-mail's origin. He went through a lot of technical stuff and left me more confused than before.

Though these are clumsy, even laughable scams, there are many others more finely honed that fool even the wary, suspicious soul. Some clown somewhere, is staying up nights thinking of ways to separate upstanding people from their life savings.

It would make life more fun if all scams were as evidently stupid as these from Nigeria or the Congo. People are more often hurt by the semi-legal and sophisticated scams such as Enron's and Arthur Andersen's creative bookkeeping scams.

It would be nice if Enron-Andersen were exceptions. But as long as there are innocent and honest people there will be those who take advantage of it smirking, "there's a sucker born every minute."

After a few seconds thought I did not reply to the e-mails.


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