Monday, September 28, 2009

We've Reached The End Of The Alphabet

Caption: Nigerian currency. Note that the column on the right starts with a 2,500,000 dollar note. Inflation has been a problem in Zimbabwe for some time. A year ago, that note would have bought a loaf of bread.

Image credit: Sokanele

Today, I received my first plea for assistance from a country that begins with the letter 'Z':

From: mariam_homond
Date: Sep 28, 2009 9:26 AM
Dear Sir

I am Mrs Mariam Homond of Zimbabwe, wife of late J. Homond a well known farmer and diamond merchant but my husband died of hearth attack after the seizure of all his life times investment in Zimbabwe by the Government of Robert Mugabeand.

And my husband lost nearly all to the Government of Robert Mogarbe but I Thank God my husband was able to transfer the sum of USD55.5million through a deplomatic channel means to one of the Finance Companies outside my country (Zimbabwe) before his death and the money is contained in two treasury boxes which we made the security Company to understand that the money belong to my late husband's customer in your country who will later contact them for onward transfer of the money to him.

Further to this as a matter of importance, please my reason of contacting you,is that I am honestly in need of your assistance to help me and my childrend to transfer the money to your country by standing as my late husband's business partner to whom the money is to be transfered to.

And please note that this following investment in your country for my children upbringing as we are finding a way to leave this country to settle down there in your country and continue our lives.

Kindly do every thing possible to reply this mail through my personal email address: so as to enable me give you the full contact details of the Finance Company where the money is for your immediate transfer to your country.

And be informed also that I have resolved to compensate you with 30% of the total fund for your assistance.

Thanks and God Bless as I urgently await your reply.
Mrs Mariam Homond.

So, I just have to let someone move a large portion of this country's GDP to my bank account, after having e-mailed my particulars to a different e-mail address than the one that sent this missive, and I'll be rolling in Zimbabwean dollars. Sounds easy enough.

While trying to find a picture of Zimbabwean money, I came across this article from May, 2008 on the issuance of a new 500,000,000 dollar note:

So the REAL figure associated with the new $500,000,000 cheque issued today is in fact $500,000,000,000.

Your eyes are not deceiving you - eleven zeros - $500,000,000,000.

The second thing to note is the price of bread. A new $500,000,000 cheque will buy two loaves of bread; but according to the government’s own campaign, one loaf cost a mere $85 in August 2006.

A 500mln bearer cheque (aka ‘bank note’) added to Gono’s portfolio of success

It goes on to say the the new currency had been initiated to divide all prices by a thousand. Unsurprisingly, it hasn't done much good.

Zimbabwe is one of those countries we don't hear very much about, thanks partly to a news blackout that was put in place by their government five years ago and just recently relaxed somewhat. It's also because, even for Africa, Zimbabwe is a place of depressing poverty and corruption. For an example of the latter, Sokanele offers this story from a few weeks ago:

Looking now at the ever-present corruption in Zimbabwe, villagers in the area under Chief Chundu in Hurungwe are being told that they face eviction from their homes after nearly three decades. This is to pave the way towards creating a game park for a safari operations partnership between a Chinese company and Chief Chundu. A local councillor confirmed the villagers' fears but said council had no plans to evict the villagers, many of whom are too old to start a new life. Efforts to talk with or get further information out of the Chief were met with complete indifference: he said that he is Chief and can do as he wants in "his" area.

ZIG Watch : Issue 8

At a time when we can barely help ourselves, it's tough to keep the plight of others in mind. We certainly have our own problems of government corruption and indifference. Still, it's good to bear in mind that other people in the world have their problems, too, and they can sometimes make ours look small in comparison.

UPDATE (Sep. 29): Just to be clear, this e-mail was a scam. That's why one of the keywords for this article is "scam artists". I also assume that none of the people named in it are real people. This is one in a series of such articles. Click the "scam artists" keyword to see others.


Dana Hunter said...

True, that.

And we've learned something else valuable today: Hearths in Zimbabwe are dangerous and prone to attack. What a horrible way to go.

Cujo359 said...

And they blame all those deaths on politics ...

Anonymous said...

Do exercise caution should there be a request for covering interim funds. There was a international scam some years ago using about the same story. Good luck. Expat

Cujo359 said...

I guess this article wasn't as clear as usual. This is a scam e-mail. There have been quite a few that have come to the e-mail address I use for this blog.