I received another wonderful email today with the greatest news. Another person has cash, lots and lots of cash, which they want to give to me. Just me.
I am so lucky.
Today’s email said, “My name is Maureen Hinckley, I am donating $550,000USD to you. Contact me via my email at (MaureenHinckley@foxmail.com) for further details.
Copyright ©2015, The Maureen Hinckley Foundation, All Rights Reserved
I cannot quite figure out why The Maureen Hinckly Foundation needs to have their email copyrighted, and all those rights reserved, but I sure can understand $550,000 U.S. dollars.
I immediately replied – who wouldn’t reply to such an unexpected windfall?
I wrote, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can hardly wait to publish this story in our local newspaper. I work as a reporter and have to write a weekly column. This would make a great story.”
I definitely can find a use for some extra cash.
But then I always write that or something similar when I receive these cash donations, these messages announcing that I have been personally selected to inherit some poor lost soul’s life’s savings and they have no one to inherit it except me. I especially enjoy being the first to respond when the email comes to our department’s editorial email – which anyone can read. I intend to have first dibs on any money some stranger just wants to give away via email.
I am so lucky. I have so many people around the world who think of me – only me – when they have extra cash on hand to give to someone or are about to die with no one, absolutely no one, to inherit it. Isn’t that just about the saddest story you have ever heard? I really want to help them find an heir.
So many wonderful people around the world think of me in these circumstances: they contact me from some remote place in Russia or from Great Britain or even Nigeria. I have no idea where the Maureen Hinkley Foundation is located. Email does not have a physical address. But what does that matter? She wants to give me half a million dollars.
I felt so grateful, I just had to check out this wonderful woman online.
I found a Maureen and Stephen Hinckley who won the Massachusetts Lottery in January 2014. She could not believe she had won; she asked her family to verify the numbers with her before she called her husband. The two of them went to an attorney to discuss the best plan for receiving the money and then planned to travel and visit a lot of National Parks. Evidently she is a real person, according to that one picture and story I found with one link from Google. All around that link came subject lines that began: “fraud, scam, don’t reply …”
Do you suppose someone absconded with the Hinkley’s name and sent me a phishing email?
I had to think about that a while. So while I pondered that possibility, I checked my junk email and discovered the following email.
“Hello, I’m Norman Chan, Tak-Lam, S.B.S., J.P, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). I have a monetary proposal worth $47.1M for you to handle with me. Contact me for more details.”
I really wanted to help, but … I simply am not a financial advisor or financial consultant. I would really not do a very good job handling their money. I can barely manage my own. Before I looked for the contact information for someone else to help this chief executive in Hong Kong asking the lowly education reporter in Arkansas to handle $47.1 million, I decided to research the name on the Internet. Yep, he must be real. Wikipedia has a page about him, just updated it a couple months ago with a picture and links to points of interest from his past.
A couple years ago some guy called RayNaz exchanged several emails with Chan. The whole thing fell through when RayNaz declined to turn over all his personal identification information in exchange for the control of the $47.1 million. He seemed to consider Chan a scammer.
I decided to let Chan use the Internet to find a financial consultant. I did not have as much time as RayNaz to even take the initial tentative steps to help this poor sod of a chief executive officer off in Hong Kong. Besides, I’m still waiting on Marilyn to respond and share her story and half-million with me. Once I have that cash in hand, I’ll have lots of time to respond to Chan.
(Joan Hershberger is a staff writer for the El Dorado News-Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)