Keep it confidential, you say? Gosh, you just can't trust people these days
A few years ago I did a post about Mike Berry's amusing hobby of drawing Nigerian scammers into his web and using the motivation of their greed to induce them to do crazy things. It seems the scamming world has moved on from Nigerians offering a huge share in the embezzled fortunes of deposed African dictators. My wife Hilary recently received the communication below. It would have been, I think, more convincing had Saunders not been her married name, meaning that she has no Saunders blood relatives, however distant. Nor has she ever had any relatives in China. I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Hong Kong for many years, but they weren't on the Saunders side of my family. So even if the letter hadn't shrieked "scammer" (and "scammer with a not brilliant grasp of English") from the get-go, it would have raised eyebrows over its accuracy. I do wish I had Mr Berry's chutzpah and could have played Mr Davis Chu along, perhaps getting him to video himself singing Nessun Dorma while wrapped in the flag of Taiwan.
Anyway, are you sitting comfortably? Then let's begin.
(Address in Chinese characters)
April 22, 2012
Dear Hilary Saunders,
I am Davis Chu, A Private Investment Manager, I am getting in touch with you regarding the estate of William Saunders an investment placed under my management over 10 years ago. I would respectfully request that you keep the contents of this mail confidential.
In 1997, William came to me and had series of talks. He informed us that he had a financial portfolio of 17.5Million United States Dollars and he wanted us to manage and invest these funds for him.
The funds were invested, in mid 2002, he instructed that the principal (US$ 17.5M) be liquidated and transferred as cash to China where he had to make an urgent investment requiring cash.
We got in touch with the specialist Bank, who agreed to receive this money for a fee and make cash available to William. In 2008, specialist Bank informed me that the funds remained unclaimed. I was informed about this, and upon investigation discovered that William was involved in a hiking accident in mainland china and died intestate. Several International People finders were contacted by me but he has no next of kin and the reason I am contacting you is because you are namesakes and share the same family name.
Bing that William Saunders has exact same last name as you, and I have exclusive access to his file, you will be made the beneficiary of these funds. On verification, which will be the details I make available to the Bank, it would be legally confirmed as I am working with my local solicitor on this deal to make sure all legal aspects are covered.
You do not have to have known him. I know this sounds a bit heavy and complex but believe in it because I am an expert in this filed and know exactly what is needed to make this a success and achievable. for your participation in this deal of mutual benefit, I propose we split the funds in half and share it equally. This practice is not unusual in the banking sector here in my Country China. The other option is that the funds will revert back to the state, where it may be shared by state officials for their personal use and enrichment, I worked for that money and telling you the fact William still owes me my percentage and naturally I deserve to have that money but cannot do it alone so me need your help.
Please can we keep communication for now strictly by the above contact details. I am a family man with a wife and children. I send you this mail not without a measure of fear as I don't know how you would accept my proposal, but I know within me that "nothing ventured is nothing gained" and that success and riches never come easy or on a platter of gold. This is the one truth I have learned from my private investment clients. Do not betray my confidence. We should act swiftly on this if you are in agreement and please get back to me immediately via the above contact details, with details of how and when best to contact you.
I am contacting you independently and no one is informed of this communication. I only gave this letter to a friend travelin to post for me, I personally sill it. Please I await your prompt response.
I just Googled the email address provided by Mr Chu and found that, like his big Nigerian brother, this guy gets about a bit. See here and here.