Millionaire for the asking?

mercado-thumb“I hate millionaires,” Mark Twain once cracked   “But it’d be dangerous to offer me the position.”

Well, I have news for the author of “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn.”  In  December’s  run up to New Year, I’ve  been offered the  position, not  once, not twice, but  seven times!. The congratulation letters that jam my mail box confirm that.

Berry-a@sbc.gobal.com emailed to say we won US$500,000 at the megaball lottery. Doesn’t   that come up to P21.9 million at today’s exchange rate?  We will dust off our bags for that Mediterranean cruise we never could afford.

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How did we strike the bonanaza?  We didn’t have a ticket to — what was that lottery’s name again?  Just to settle the wife’s nerves, we planned to ask Berry-a:

Even before we could ask, Castaned-d emailed. “You won 950,000 pounds in the U.K. New Year Bonanza sweeps. And that doesn’t include another $750,000 from Luckday International.

And that doesn’t include Sarah Hoofman of Euro-Foundation in Geneva, Gary Smith who claims to handle Spain’s biggest lottery: El Gordo (“The Fat One”) of Paragon. Promo in Amsterdam.

Leonteen Garrett of Brussell’s Lottery Software writes: “You have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of one million.” The grammar is atrocious. But who cares? The payout will can either be in wobbly euros or equally wobbly but Uncle Sam’s tender.

We’re not picky. We’re willing, in fact, to receive the prize in Philippine pesos. That need not be the new bills that portray Ninoy and Cory Aquino. Even pesos, with the portrait of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo being sworn in, for her disastrous term, will do. We can agree with George Bernard Shaw: “Lack of money is the root of all evil”.

So, how did I squeeze into company of former First Gentleman “Mike” Arroyo, ex-president Estrada and heirs of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos?  Cash comes out of their ears. And they never explained how this came to pass.

Over 300,000 email addresses were churned through a computer, explains Josephine Van Daal. Or was it Mr. George Carret. I forget now. Then, “You’re e-mail address was picked.”

“By George, he’s got it,” as Professor Higgins says in “My Fair Lady”.  Did I ask whether it was email accounts at Yahoo or Gmail? Of course not. “Beggars can not be choosers.

By now, my head is swimming with visions of what those shekels can do. After all, “no one would have remembered the Good Samaritan if all he had were good intentions,” former UK Prime Minister Margaret Tatcher once snapped. “He had money as well.”

But journalistic caution caught up by the time XXXXXXXX. What’s the catch? “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

Significantly, the letters are phrased identically, even the misspellings or tenses. Only amounts vary. Keep it confidential, they insist. You are. Meanwhile, to contact a financial agent whose name is given.

“All that’s required is for you your full names, address, phone numbers, email address and bank address and account numbers,” wheedles “Dr. Omar Ali”.  He claims to be the Credit Bank of Iraq’s principal auditor. Then, like those lottery jackpots, he transfer $14.2 lying idle in my bank.”

“Once transferred to your nominated bank account, we shall share in the ratio of 65% for me, 30% for you, and 5% for any expenses incurred.”

It is true Nigerians first cooked up this con game? Dennis Kingibe, who claims to be deputy manager at Security Investment Bank in Lagos has an idle $20.5 million. If you’re dense enough to give him your bank account numbers, he spilt the loot 50-50.

Dubai merchant Khalid Suleman has a sob story twist. He’s dying from esophegal cancer. Before facing Allah’s judgment for a dissolute life, could you help him distribute $28 million to the needy?

“Help me to collect this deposit and dispatched (sic) it to charity organizations. I have set aside 20% for you and your time.

“I want Allah to be merciful to me and accept my soul. So, I have decided to give alms, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth,” was his cri d’ coeur.

 Similar emailed “cries from the heart” are linked to officials who’ve been flogged for amassing ill-gotten wealth. Some letters in my mailbox claim to have access to long stashed wealth from Mobutu Sese Seku, Papa Doc Duvalier, Suharto — and even Jinggoy Estrada.

There are no figures on how many are conned. If the repeated letters are any indication, there are a lot of suckers willing to be fleeced out there. Who said “there was one born every minute.”

Infuriated at this con game, a son in Manila dangled offering bank account numbers. Someone bit.  An elaborate timetable was set for a meeting at a plus 5-star Bangkok hotel. When D-Day came he didn’t show up.

To the anguished long distance tracer-calls from Bangkok, he casually replied’ “On the way to the airport, I had a flat tire.”  The late Charles de Gaulle, he explained to me, summed it up very well: “Revenge is a dish best eaten cold.” ####

 (Email: juanlmercado@gmail.com)



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