Friends I have not met

The term “Junk Mail” had its genesis in the ancient Chinese mail system that saw business mail delivered by sea between ports along the Chinese coast. With the advent of the internet, the term has come to mean any incoming computer message of dubious origin, meaning and intent. These messages can come from any part of the globe and not only from China.

Many people fear junk box mail because of the likelihood of introducing viral contamination; the universal advice is: “don’t open Junk Mail! Delete!”  But actually reading junk mail can offer exciting opportunities and challenges. To illustrate my point let me share a few of the junk box messages that have reached me recently, from friends I have not yet met in Africa and beyond.

You will understand my joy when this email recently appeared on my screen (printed as received):

“Attention beneficiary! This is to officially inform you that we have been having meetings for the past four weeks now which ended five days ago with Mr Jim Yong Kim the World Bank President and other seven continent presidents on the Congress we treated on a solution to the scam victim problems. We have decided to contact you following the reports we received from Anti-fraud international Monitoring Group your name has been submitted to us, therefore, the United Nations has agreed to compensate you with the sum of $US1m compensation is also including an international business that failed due to Government problems etc.”

All I have to do is send certain personal details to a named clergyman who will then allow the transaction to be completed! Interestingly a copy of the email to me has gone to Mr Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General. So there you are then! $1m bucks out of the blue from the United Nations! And that payment has been endorsed by Jimmy Yong and the presidents of the seven continents! How cool is that!”

Then more excitement! Haji Javedlqbal a senior officer at the Africa Development Bank in Accra, Ghana, gets in touch.

“Dear Friend”, Haji calls me, and he is offering me 40% of $15.5m because of the impressive information he has received about me from one of my friends (regretfully I don’t have any friends in Ghana at this time). Javi (he is not quite sure how to spell his name) assures me that the transaction is hitch-free and I should not entertain any atom of fear as all arrangements have been made for the transfer of the money. All I have to do is send him all my personal details. Acting on that assurance I do not have an atom of fear at this time.

Mrs Elham Ibrahim (of no fixed abode) is next to get in touch with me to offer a much more modest $1.5m for the good work of God Almighty to help the motherless and less privileged. Mrs I tells me she is suffering from cancer and is going in for an operation soon. At the moment she cannot take any phone calls due to the fact that her relatives have squandered the funds she gave them for the purpose – presumably to pay the phone bill. Mrs I wishes me all the best and urges me to use the funds judiciously and to always extend the good work to others. If I am interested in this noble work Mrs Ibrahim asks me to get back to her for more details. How can one decline such an appeal? Easily, as it happens!

A month later Mrs I is back with another offer using her late husband’s email address.

“My sincere Greetings!” she tells me and advises that she is still having trouble with her telephone and cannot take any calls. Oh Dear! Oh Dear! Her relatives really are a trial!

My friends continue to make contact, this time from the Ivory Coast: Sylvie Warlord is the only child of her late father who came to a sticky end in a fight with the Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast and apparently had no more children thereafter. (This, while regrettable, is entirely understandable). Sylvie tells me that she is constrained to contact me because of the maltreatment she is receiving from her step-mother but she does not say what the maltreatment is or why getting in touch with me is going to help. Oh God! How much anguish can one person suffer! No money is mentioned, just a call to get in touch.

Then a terrible tale from Tunisia! What a gut-wrenching story Mrs Amal Ouedrago has to tell!

“My God’s Select, ” she says, and tells me that she has heavy tears in her eyes; and why wouldn’t she? Apart from anything else she has cancer, suffered a stroke, was an orphan and her husband died. Her late husband, Mr Ouedrago Daisy Brown, worked for the Tunisia embassy in Burkina Faso. Apparently Mr Daisy Brown deposited the sum of $US8.5m in a bank in Ouagadougou and the money is still there. Mr DB made the money available for exportation of gold from Burkina Faso Mining but it is not clear if the Mining Company is aware of this arrangement. Mrs O has given me these instructions:”Take 30% of the money for your personal use while 70% is to go to charity, people in the street, and helping the orphanage”. Apparently, Mrs O is doing this so God will forgive her and accept her soul because of the sicknesses that have suffered her so much. All that she requires of me at this stage is an assurance that I will do as she asks. That seems ok.

So there you are dear reader. Your Junk Mail box can offer endless hours of make-believe and fantasy. But a word of caution: until you meet your new friends, do not open their junk mail attachments; simply hit the “Delete” button and sail on!


Written by Bill Conroy

Bill Conroy is a Tauranga based freelance writer and poet with a particular interest in historical non-fiction and composing WW1 poetry.

Read more from Bill on GrownUps here.