When Prince Ojo Ademola Yaradua sent me, Chief Austin B.M. Rover, an email yesterday, I felt honoured and respected for the first time in many years. My wife of 23 years, six months, three days and counting had never addressed me in such an honourable fashion – personally or via email. His sweet words started like this:
GREETINGS Dearest One,
Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into a beneficial relationship with you. I prayed over it and selected your name among other names due to its esteeming nature and the recommendations given to me as a reputable and trustworthy person I can do business with and by their recommendations, I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere reason.
There is a wonderful and sincere compliment somewhere in that statement. It continued:
Before the death of my father on 10th June 2020 in a private hospital here in Mangola. He secretly called me on his bedside and told me that he has a sum of $10.500.000 (Ten Million, five hundred thousand dollars) left in a suspense account in a local Bank here in our country.
I was shocked and saddened. I felt sorry for the rich Prince.
My father, the King suggested that I should seek for a God fearing foreign partner in a country of my choice where I will transfer this money and use it for investment purpose, (such as real estate management). Dear, we are honourably seeking your assistance to provide a Bank account where this money would be transferred to.
Not even my best friend, who happens to be a millionaire, and with whom I share a bottle of good scotch now and then, would make a contribution of over ten million United States dollars to my bank account. So you could understand my state of euphoria that I experienced when a Prince from a distant land that reeks of romance and adventure, sent me this personal email and addressed me with so much love, and offered to transfer a huge sum of US dollars to my bank account. The Prince showed such incredible trust in my good self that it brought tears to my eyes.
His email continued with a long meandering story of his sorry state. Prince Ojo requested my help as a non-Mangolan citizen to transfer the funds outside his country. He asked me to assist the Mangolan National Petroleum Corporation involved in oil exploration in the sub-Sahara desert region…Visions of belly dancers and harems floated through my mind. The MNPC wanted to expand its operations worldwide. In fact, it wasn’t just the MNPC that needed my help, it was the Central Bank of Mangola, he claimed. I would be helping these major organisations and the Government to achieve their goals. (I was beginning to hear the Mission Impossible theme music in the background). In essence, I would be helping the whole population with this simple deal. I was elated by the idea of becoming a god to a great nation.
To sweeten the arrangement, this is what he offered:
Moreover, we are willing to offer you 13% of the sum as compensation for your effort, after the successful transfer of this fund to your designated account overseas. I am anticipating to hear from you soon. I need your bank account details and to ensure that you receive the money, we need you to transfer a small sum of $100.000 (one hundred thousand dollars) to the Mangolan bank.
The Prince explained that ‘this opportunity of a lifetime’ was a very simple straightforward procedure and I get to keep a huge some of legally acquired dollars with me. My eyes were absolutely blinded by the six-digit number I calculated on my calculator. He explained that because of certain government regulations, funds could not be moved outside the country. Since I qualified as a non-Mangolan citizen, the funds could be transferred to my account, without breaking any laws. However, to be a legitimate transferee of these monies, I needed to deposit a tiny sum of money into his Mangolan bank.
So, like all sensible businessmen, I called up a good friend to boast about my impending wealth. And, like all good friends, he swore at me and told me how gullible I was. Then, sounding serious, he asked me to split the money with him – when I received it. His laughter still ringing in my ears, I decided to send Prince Ojo Ademola Yaradua a response to his email:
Thank you for your kind letter. I am extremely delighted to be of humble service to you and your country. In fact, it will be my honour to do as you request, even though my wife has threatened to leave me. I have borrowed some of the money and I will be in debt for a very, very long time. But, I trust you and I have informed my bank to remit the sum of one hundred thousand dollars in US currency to your account in the desired Mangolan bank. Your kind self is requested to give us all your bank details in order to complete the wire transfer.
I have heard about your great country and look forward to meeting you and exploring further business interests. However, since banks are rigid about their laws, my persistent banker is a very diligent man and he wishes to speak with you over the phone.
I have also contacted the Mangolan Embassy and they are very interested in getting to know you better. I look forward to your early reply.
With all the best wishes and due respect, I remain your faithful and humble servant,
Chief Austin B.M. Rover
Unfortunately, I never heard from the Prince again or his millions.