Scamming a Scammer: An Epistolary Story Part I

Most of us ignore those shady emails offering us dubious investment opportunities in far-flung lands. But not the Portsmouth poet Richard Williams.

December 2nd 2015 

Dear Friend,

I am the first son of the late Mobutu Sese Seko, the former President of the Congo Republic. I am presently under protective custody in Nigeria as a political refugee. I got your contact details during my search for a stranger who can cooperate with me.

I want you to note that this business will benefit both of us. However, you must confirm your ability to handle this because it involves a large amount of money. I boxed and shipped the money to a security company abroad at the peak of the war/political crisis that rocked my country a few years ago. Now the crisis has ended and I need a trustworthy person like you to proceed to the location of the security company in order to clear the funds and invest it on my behalf.

Note that I will send to you the relevant documents that will enable you take possession of the fund for onward investment for our mutual benefit. All I need from you is as follows:

1. A letter of commitment (duly signed) that you will keep the transaction strictly confidential.

2. Your confirmation of your ability to handle this matter.

3. Your ID or driving licence number for identification to the security company.

4. Your telephone and fax numbers for communication.

5. Your full permanent address.

As soon as I get the above information from you, I will disclose to you the name and the country of the security company. I will forward your name and particulars to the security company to enable them contact you accordingly. I will also send to you a letter of authority to enable you clear the funds on my behalf. Note that this is a very safe transaction as this money is my share of my father’s estate.

I am waiting for your response to enable us proceed.


Mr Nzanga Joseph Mobutu.


December 4th

Dear Joseph,

I saw your email today. I wasn’t sure if it was meant for me, but thought I’d reply just in case! I’m always on the lookout for ways to make extra money, and with the bad luck I’ve had recently I could do with a change in fortune.

Hope to hear from you soon, although I’m out on the road a lot so I might not be able to get back to you straight away.




December 9th

Dear Friend,

This is to acknowledge the receipt of your email and your willingness to assist me with many thanks. We need assistance from a very reliable person like you for a business partnership, that we can invest this money with you as a partner in your country as I do not want my family’s name to be used as the business name due to security reasons.

I have not done business before. In view of this, I am relying on your advice on what viable business venture we can invest this money in.

I want you to confirm to me as follows:

  1. Your readiness to travel to the security company for the claim on my behalf.
  2. Your honesty and ability to handle this business with me amicably.
  3. Your honesty to keep this money after you claim it from the security company for the purposes of the investment business.

I really want you to understand that this transaction requires maximum co-operation and confidentiality to achieve our set goal.

Note that upon your positive response to the above question, I will furnish you with the contact of the security company that holds the money and you will open up a communication with them for the clearance of the money.

I will send you every document that will enable you to claim this money on my behalf as soon as you send to me your identification such as:

1. Your passport number or driver’s licence

2. Your telephone and fax number.

3.  Home or office address.

Lastly, I want you to know that confidentiality of this business is of paramount important and any leakage will jeopardize it. And at the same time, I want you to know that I will give you 20% of the total sum of the money for your kind assistance in claiming the money on my behalf.

Thank you for your understanding. I look forward to doing business with you.

Best regards,

Mr Nzanga Joseph Mobutu


December 9th

Dear Friend, or can I call you Nzanga?

Thank you for your email. I am glad I can help you out in your difficult situation. It would be nice to find out more about you if we are going to be business partners. I’m sorry for the delay in getting back to you – I’ve been out on the road all weekend, and I’ve had to take my dog to the vet this morning.

So how much money are we talking about? Depending upon what amount I have some excellent contacts who can help us increase this wealth, or if necessary lose it in secret (I have some people I know in the mob). Let me know and I’ll start working on it.

Bye for now,



December 10th

Dearest brother Richard,

How are you doing today? Hope fine. I am in receipt of your mail and the content is well noted. Meanwhile, I want you to understand that I so much appreciate your understanding and concern in this transaction. Brother, I want us to be business partners. In fact, I don’t know much about business, so I want to invest the money in your country and you will stand for me, because the investment will be in your name and you will be looking after the investment, OK?

The amount of money is US$22 million US DOLLARS (Twenty-Two Million United States Dollars Only). It is my share of my father’s estate. It is in a security firm in Amsterdam, Holland. You will have to travel to Amsterdam on my behalf and make the claim. Can you confirm your readiness to travel? Note that I will send all the relevant documents to you including a LETTER OF AUTHORITY which empowers you to make the claim on my behalf, OK?

Do get back to me in receipt of this mail so that we can proceed without any further delay.

Remain blessed.

Mr Joseph Mobutu.

December 10th

Dear Nzanga,

Thank you for your email. How are things in Nigeria? It must be very difficult for you. Well today has been OK. My dog’s veterinary bill was £500. He’s got a problem with his vocal cords and a rare cough disorder. I hope he gets better soon.

As for the money, that should be plenty for my friends from the Chicago mob (actually they’re from a place called Ant Hill, which is just outside, but I guess you won’t have heard if it) to launder. They are very discreet. I’ll check it out.

After what happened to your family, could you do with some guns? I know someone involved in the army surplus trade. He might be able to spend some of your share of the money on some kit and you could take some revenge. What do you think?

Let me know, OK?



December 15th

Hey Nzanga,

How urgent is this? I sent you a reply last week and was hoping to hear from you by now. My contacts in Chicago are able to look after the funds but I’m waiting for details from you about travelling to Amsterdam.

I need to talk to your partner, especially as I was chatting to an inventor friend who’s got some brilliant ideas that need investment in (he’s got some patents pending). I think with just 10% of the 22 million we can make some real money with him.

I assume that the guns aren’t of interest? I hope I wasn’t out of order, but I thought that what with everything you’ve gone through you’d like my army surplus contact. But whatever, if it’s not right for you, he’s not a major friend to me. Let me know if this is of interest, and I’ll talk to him again.

Hope to hear from you soon. If I don’t I’ll assume that you’ve found someone else to help you out.



December 16th 

Dearest brother,

Thanks for your mail. I am very sorry for the late response, it was due to some circumstances beyond my control. Please do bear with me, OK?

Brother I want you to understand that I am very happy about your friend assisting us and being part of this business. Please let us proceed without any further delay.

Please go ahead and contact the security firm in Amsterdam through their website and get back to me immediately. Do inform the officer in charge that you are my friend and Business partner and that you are ready to collect the consignment.

Find below the contact information.

COMPANY NAME: Golden Global Securities



Please do contact them immediately and get back to me so that we can proceed immediately. Note that we have little time to make this happen as the year is fast coming to an end. I really want you to travel this week and get this consignment before the 24th of this month.

I want to be in your country to spend this Christmas with you in happiness and good cheer.

Remain blessed.

Mr Joseph Mobutu.


December 16th

Dear Nzanga,

Thank you for your email. I’m a little confused. Which of my friends are you interested in helping out with this, the Ant Hill Mob (money laundering), Army Surplus Sarge (guns, RPGs, light tanks) or Professor Pat Pending (the inventor I mentioned in my last email)? Let me know and I will confirm their details and timescales.

I’ll be in touch with Golden Global Securities. I’ve had a look at the website and I’m glad they’re backed by such a major bank as JP Morgan Inc.

It will be very difficult for me to get over to Amsterdam before the 24th. I am involved with a special event, the Western Arkansas Chugabug to Kentucky Youth Race, which starts on the 21st. I’ll have to see what I can do. I have another friend, normally based in Germany who has a light aircraft (Red Max is his nickname). Would it be better to meet at a private airfield or do you want me to come through the main airport at Amsterdam?

Let me know how we can progress this.

Dick (my friends call me this rather than my full name, Richard)


December 17th

Dear Mr Anslem Kim,

My name is Richard Dastardly and I am a personal friend of Joseph Mobutu. We are conducting a transaction under strictest confidence. I understand you will be organising the money side of things. My business partners in Ant Hill will be dealing with transferring funds in advance of using them for investment opportunities in the US. I will introduce you to the most senior member of the mob, Clyde, when the time is appropriate.

Please email me in response to this address. I am out on the road a lot at the moment, planning a trip to Arkansas, so may not be able to reply straight away.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.



Photography by Moshe Tasky.