Not too long ago, I posted an email exchange I had with a spammer who wanted me to adopt a bulldog. I have a couple of email accounts that I primarily use to catch spam so I can avoid it in my real inbox. Often, the spam is just links to online pharmacies and ads for Viagra, but now and then I get an interesting one from one of my old school friends in Nigeria. Or something. Such was the case when the Honorable Barrister Fidelis Okanume contacted me recently…
From: Fidelis Okanume [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sat, 30 Apr 2011 01:07:25 -0400
Subject: GOODWILL MESSAGE
I am the personal assistance and lawyer to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. I have specifically been mandated by his excellency to arrange for a foreign business partner for a joint business venture. His excellency specifically want to invest into a real estate business and Private Oil Refinery and the total sum of $300 million has been set aside for this purpose.
Please, if you are interested and capable of handling this arrangement in partnering with us Kindly respond back with immediate effect and indicate your interest and capability More details would be given to you soon as we receives your positive response.
Hon. Barrister Fidelis Okanume
Subject: RE: GOODWILL MESSAGE
Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 6:17 PM
Dear Hon. Barrister Fidelis Okanume,
This is indeed a fortuitous message of goodwill and promise! I have much interest in His Excellency’s proposal and await your speedy reply!
Yours in service,
Thanks for your positive email response to our proposition, we really appreciate it.
I will be discussing further with His Excellency much later today to inform him that i have been in touch and thereafter i would furnish you with further details on how we can achieve this transaction.
Please kindly and urgently furnish me with your private telephone number so we could talk.
I am waiting.
Hon.Barrister Fidelis Okanume.
(Apparently at this point Fidelis got antsy and couldn’t wait for me to reply, so he sent me another message.)
Dear Mr Boochen,
I have been able to speak with His excellency about my arrangement with you towards seeing that our deal is being carried out successfully with out any hitch. I made His excellency to understand that i have known you several years back during my university days in Canada,that alone have given him rest of mind that we are not dealing with a total stranger. My reason of telling him that is for him to have full confidence in you,that you are not going to sit on the fund when its being transfered into your bank account.
First,i want you to know that His excellency`s number one priority is the safe custody of the fund until year 2015 when he would be retired from the office as the president,commander-in chief of armed forces,Federal Republic of Nigeria. Any viable business part of the funds is going to be invested into should be something that could be sellable or disbursable and turn into cash on or before the end of year 2015 when His Excellency would need the money for his retirement.
Furthermore,i want you to understand that we are going to present you as a contractor that executed a contract worth of the $300 million with our indigenous oil firm, Nigeria national petroleum corporation(NNPC).
All the paper works covering the contract would be done and perfected on your name as the sole contractor/beneficiary of the $300 million,and photocopies of the entries would be sent to you in due course soon as they are being processed in order to keep you abreast.
Upon completion of all the contract documents,the complete contract file would be sent to various concern ministries for immediate approvals which we have gotten in principle and once that is done, our apex bank, central bank of Nigeria, (CBN) will now send payment instruction to one of our foreign reserve bank in the overseas to contact you and make immediate payment of the $300 million to you.
Now listen, i told His Excellency that you are requesting and insisting on retaining the 15% of the total $300 million which is $ 45 million for your participation in these business and he has agreed. Why i said so to him is for you and i to make our own money from the $300 million despite what ever profit returns that would be made from what ever business the other funds are being invested into.
Now that you and i have a total sum of $45 million to share, i am suggesting that $30 million goes to you, and $15 million comes to me.
Please i need your response immediately stating that you understood all the explanations concerning this deal, including the sharing of the $45 million between you and i.
I wait for your urgent response.
Hon.Barrister Fidelis Okanume.
My friend Fidelis,
I believe we may become great friends indeed. I do apologize for the delay in replying to your email; I have been away on urgent business for the past weeks. You see, I am the owner of a chain of, shall we say, “specialty hotels” throughout Southeast Asia and Latin America. One of my managers was having some issues with the local constabulary and my presence was required to help steer things in the proper direction.
But I am back now and can more easily and eagerly focus on your proposal. A proposal, by the way, in which I am very much interested save for one small detail: My fee.
I have engaged in similar dealings in the past and my fee has never been less than 25%. However, since you have already done some of the work for me, I suggest a 22% fee. This would amount to $66 million for you and me to split, of which I would take $50 million, leaving you with $16 million for yourself. Since this is more than you were expecting and since I am firm on the numbers, I believe you will agree to these terms.
You may proceed with the process on your end immediately.
I am suprised that after my last email message to you requesting for your phone number and other informations you have not responded back to me.
You mentioned in your last email to me that you traveled before but now ready to attend to my business propositions.
Please if you are still interested and willing to continue these business with me kindly respond back to me so as to know what i am doing, as i do not know what to tell His Excellency after i have told him much about you.
I am anxiously waiting.
Hon.Barrister Fidelis Okanume
My friend Fidelis,
Thank you so much for contacting me again. I want you to know I am still interested in doing business with you. As you know, I own a number of specialty hotels in various countries. Due to some unfortunate incidents involving the son of a foreign Ambassador, my time and attention has been focused elsewhere. I assure you I am indeed interested in pursuing this matter with you further.
I am, however, very displeased with the 15% fee. I am disappointed with your decision to speak for me without first consulting me. As such, and since you are unwilling or unable to tell His Excellency you made a mistake, your portion of the fee will be reduced by half, to $7.5 million. I will receive the remaining $22.5 million.
As to the information you wish me to send you, I am not yet willing to to comply. I did not receive any such information from you, contrary to your assertions. A mistake, perhaps, on your part. Indeed, not the first mistake you’ve made. I expect you to pay closer attention to detail as we proceed with our plan. This is not something you can do just part way. You are either willing to do what is necessary or you are not.
Please let me know at your earliest convenience if you are willing to do what is required.
(He actually did send me a .jpg of his passport. I have no way of knowing if it’s real or fake, but it looks pretty good.)
Looks real enough, right?
Once again,thank you for your email response,its well noted.
Unfortunately i have made a mistake by not consulting you first before telling His Excellency about the percentage and like i said earlier,i cannot go back to him and start telling him i made a mistake after these past days,its not possible and i do not want to look stupid before him.
Further more,if the ratio of 10% for you and 5% for me is not ok by you then lets forget about the deal completely.
Again, i have forwarded my passport copy to you and if you cannot do the same i am sorry i will not continue with this business with you since that is the only way i could proof to His Excellency that i knew you before this time of these deal.
Meanwhile if you wish to call me here is my direct phone number: +234 803 3067 086.
Thanks for your time and audience,as i look forward hearing from you soonest.
Hon.Barrister Fidelis Okanume.
After your last message to me in which you threatened to back out of the deal if I wouldn’t agree to your terms, two things occurred which lowered my level of trust in you immensely. It appears you are not only attempting to deceive me, but you’re attempting to bully me as well. I will not be treated in this manner, sir.
Firstly, my legal team has been going over the details of your proposal. This is standard procedure in my business. My team have informed me that I did indeed receive a copy of your passport and, while I’m sorry I didn’t believe you’d sent it, my team assures me that your passport is a fake. You can imagine my disappointment.
Secondly, I received information from someone who claims to know you. He tells me you’re attempting to scam me, and even says in his email: “We also advise that you stop further communications with imposters and forward any correspondence / proposal you receive from them to Mr. Christopher Thomas Bell in order for the FBI and the authorities to bring justice to those still at large.”
Naturally, you can see why I need further assurance from you that this is not, in fact, a scam and that you and I are actually going into business together for the purpose of making large sums of money.
Please reply at your earliest convenience. If I don’t hear from you, I will be forced to forward all of our correspondence to the FBI as instructed above.
(The bit about the information that he’s possibly scamming me is from yet another scam/spam email I received.)
With due respect i did not threaten you in any of my previous emails but was only making my points very clear. There is no way i would be doing business of this magnitude with some one i hardly know too well with out having his/her personal informations,and that is the reason why i first gave you mine to show you that i have no bad intention towards your passport or any of your personal details.
Now your legal have told you that my passport copy is fake,thank you for that but i still maintain the conditions on which i could do this business with you therefore i still stands on the same condition which you mistook for threatening.
Further more iam not in any way trying to deceive or bully you as you claimed but only introduced a deal for the benefit of you and i which is not a DO or DIE affair therefore if you are not capable of handling this deal please come out plain and say it than accusing me of misdeed unnecessarily.
Your so-called informant that claimed to know me from the moon,you and him and the so-called Mr. Christopher Thomas Bell can start doing business together and i dont care.
I do not insult people no matter your status or standard and also i do not tolerate being insulted by any one therefore if you want us to continue with this business please do the needful and stop beating about the bush for nothing, and if i do not receive the required details from you before the end of business hour tomorrow i will consider you not being interested any more then i would move on .
Hon.Barrister Fidelis Okanume
I believe we have gotten off to a rocky start. This is not my wish at all. Please understand that I, as a successful businessman, must take precautions. This is why I have a legal team. This is why I maintain healthy relationships with people at various levels and offices of law enforcement. You may have guessed already that not all of my business activities are necessarily, shall we say, safe from scrutiny. My team of lawyers wishes to protect me from undue attention, as I’m sure you can understand.
Perhaps there is a way for us to repair our relationship, you and I. The head of my legal team has advised me to acquire photographic proof of your identity. Since he is not satisfied with the photo of the passport you sent (I can’t say one way or the other, it looks real enough to me), he is requesting that you send no fewer than 3 photos of yourself in various locales near His Excellency’s palace. If you can show the date somehow, perhaps with a local newspaper, that would also help ease his mind as to your authenticity.
I hope this isn’t too difficult a task for you, friend Fidelis.
Your so-called lawyer or legal team can go to hell for all i care. I have no business with your legal team or what ever you call them ok and you have insulted me enough.By the way why are you hiding your face if you do not have criminal intent over this deal,huh ?. You now sound as if you have skeleton in your cupboard because i cant figure out why you refused to furnish me with your ordinary phone number.
Even if you are the sole owner of the world bank i dont give a hood any more ok,infact forget about me, this business and all the discussions we had because your way is not straight forward.
I am moving on ok,so you have a swell day.
(I like the way he’s dropped all pretense here; no greeting, no hint of politeness or professionalism, just pure rage.)
Fidelis, my dear friend, you are very rude. There is no call for you to act in this manner. Either you want to do business with me or you don’t. Please remember, you came to me with this offer; I did not come sniffing around your door looking for a handout. In fact, let’s be honest here: if anyone has criminal intent where this deal is concerned, it is you. You are the party who decided to spirit away $45 million of His Excellency’s cash and place it in your own pockets.
I simply do not understand your anger, sir. Now, please. Let me know as soon as you’re able to send the required photos so we may proceed.
So far I haven’t gotten a reply. Bastard. I could have used that money, too.