A change was needed. Although my cynical nature was ironic in nature, and humorous most of the time, there is honesty in irony and truth in jokes. I wanted to move beyond my usual suspicions that everyone had an agenda and develop an approach where I believed in the benefit of taking people at face value.
This was a mature approach, I figured, one that showed I was growing up. Sure, adopting a cynical personality was cool in your 20s, welcomed and perhaps even presumed. But in your 30s, cynicism seemed to be a sign of bitterness, discontentment and in some cases, paranoia.
I would not fall into this trap! And, I thought, this was no way to live.
From now on, I would trust people. I wouldn’t act as though they had to prove something to me. Who was I to demand such honesty from people, most of them strangers? No, no, my change would be a complete 180-degree turnaround. Trust would be my game, no more taking cynicism as my guide. I would give people the benefit of the doubt.
The day of my 180-degree turnaround, when suspicion transformed into trust, I received two emails:
Date: Saturday, May 21, 2011
Subject: <no subject>
My Dear Mr. Duke,
My associate has helped me to send your first payment of $7,500 USD to you as instructed by Mr. David Cameron the United Kingdom prime minister after the last G20 meeting that was held in United Kingdom, making you one of the beneficiaries. Here is the information below.
MTCN Numbers: 6096147516
Sender First Name Is = Johannes
Second Name = Davis
I told him to keep sending you $7,500 USD twice a week until the FULL payment of ($820000.00 United State Dollars) is completed.
A certificate will be made to change the Receiver Name as stated by the British prime minister, send your FULL Names an address via Email to: Mr. Garry Moore
You cannot pickup the money until the certificate is issued to you.
Regards, Garry Moore.
From: Nikolay Sintsov <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Saturday, May 21, 2011
Subject: Read and get back to me.
Forgive me for i know you did not expect this mail and please delete this mail from your box if you consider it junk,spam or nuisance.But if i should be granted audience by you,i would have introduced a lucrative transaction which will benefit both of us under a trustful agreement, i will suggest you confirm this mail after reading the below
1. Here in Burkina-Faso/Ghana there are many gold mines discovered and they have high quality gold,some owned by local villagers and some by the government, if you can purchase or deal on gold,kindly indicate so that i can link you up.
2. Pure cotton/seed is the major export here, check out if you can do something about it.
3. Sales of motor bycs is a lucrative business over here,if you can invest on that you will double your capital under 6 months.
4. Sales of cheap soaps,detergent over here is very lucrative.
5. Registering here with the ministry of works here as a road construction contractor is very lucrative and contracts are been awarded here daily because of much road construction projects.
6. There are two foot-ball teams performing very well needs a capable person to take over and there are wonderful players and become their manager,i bet you must never be disappointed by this young vibrant African players from Burkina-Faso,Ghana,Niger,benin,Togo and Nigeria.
7. There are other strong deals here excluding drugs which is very confidential,i can only introduce that to you on your demand.
My condition is that all of the above any one you choose or if you propose yours and through me you will have the legal link to do the business, you pay me 20% of your capital investment or purchase, if you invest here i will be receiving 20% monthly from your profit, if you purchase at a give away price you will give me 20% of your capital purchase,my condition is amendable based on the type of business and capital involved, you are insured of adequate security because you will be here to see things yourself before ant purchase or investment.
Waiting for your urgent response and will need your phone call as soon as you understand my mail here is my number 00226 74 02 90 18.
The grammatical errors alone should have sent up red flags. But I had made a 180-degree turnaround. Trust was my new ally. If I received these emails the day before, I would have scoffed, deleted them without a thought. But not today! My mind started reeling, I could take the $820,000 from the first email and make a sound investment proposed in the second email, and all it would cost me was 20%. Trusting people will make me rich!
I figured I was being rewarded for turning in my cynical nature. Let’s put aside that I was gaining financially from being trusting, the money was not the point. Although, it was a lot of money. No, the point is that trusting people simply is the right thing to do. The financial aspect was a bonus. I was getting paid to be a better person.
I replied to the first email.
For the rest of the day, I thought about what I would do with my money. My plan was to build up enough capital from email #1 and transfer it into investments in Ghana, as proposed in email #2. Out of the choices in email #2, the only one that appealed to me was #6: “There are two foot-ball teams performing very well needs a capable person to take over and there are wonderful players and become their manager,i bet you must never be disappointed by this young vibrant African players from Burkina-Faso,Ghana,Niger,benin,Togo and Nigeria.” #7 was intriguing, with my new found wealth, I couldn’t rule out any ‘strong deals’. But the fact that Nikolay felt the need to say, ‘excluding drugs’, did raise some concerns. I never fancied myself a gold miner, so in my mind at least, I became determined to get those foot-ballers in shape.
My phone rang early the next morning. A man with a deep accented voice named Garry Moore asked for Mr. Duke. He explained to me that he knew the prime minister personally and all I needed to do was create an offshore account, place $7000 in the account and provide him with access. Garry explained that the $7000 was to show my good faith in the collaboration and once he had access, he would transfer the money from Mr. Cameron’s personal account into the offshore account. I’m sure Mr. Cameron would want his money to be invested in Ghana. Perhaps we could become partners. Watch football together.
“Sounds great!” I said. “Oh, and Garry, one more thing.”
“Yes,” Garry said.
“I trust you,” I said.
“Mmhm,” Garry replied.
I scanned and faxed my passport. I had no idea how to open an offshore account, but it’s easier than you may think. Transferred the $7000.00 into the account – my savings, plus money advances from credit cards. The account stipulated that only myself and Garry could access the money.
Garry called again. He sounded much more agitated, impatient even.
“Access!” He said. “I need access!”
“Okay, okay, it’s processing,” I said. “Just remember that I trust you.”
“Mmhm,” Garry replied.
I returned to the bank. The bank employee I dealt with called over the manager. The manager brought me into his office. Finally, I was getting the service I deserved. The manager informed me that these spam emails were scams. I raised my voice, became insistent. Cynical bankers, all they care about is their money! Not me, I trust people!
Garry called me that evening. He was livid. Berated me, belittled me. The money was placed in the account but still being processed.
“Garry?” I asked. “Who is Johannes Davis?”
“Who?” Garry replied.
“Johannes Davis,” I said. “The name on the email?”
“He is associate of Cameron David,” he said.
“You mean David Cameron?” I asked.
“Yes, yes, David Camerons. I need authorization!” He shouted.
I placed the receiver back on the cradle. The phone rang immediately. I didn’t answer it. The bank was already closed, but I had a feeling of the result. The next morning I waited outside the bank, arrived before it opened. We checked my offshore account. I wasn’t rich, in fact, my bank account was now in the negative. I owed the bank money. I wasn’t rich anymore, but I was okay with that. If I have learned anything, it’s that I will never trust anyone again. A lesson that only cost me $7000.00.