Mavis Bramston

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Mavis the Mongoose lays it out for Johnny the Cobra, possibly not how he was expecting to get laid.

My Dear Mr Akpeki,

Yes, you are very perceptive.

It is confession time. Go get yourself a coffee and sit down. I have one already.

First and foremost: I am smiling as I write this - please take it all in good humour. I think we can respect each other, as one con-artist to another!

Your letter, the original letter, was the eighth 'offer' I had received to help officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation recycle funds through overseas bank accounts.

The most unimaginative one started out "Dear Sir or Madam, I have always admired your company..."

Eighth! I couldn't help feeling that the NNPC needed a more robust financial accounting system.

Starting at the sixth I have been writing back to the source to see what sort of response I get. Your responses have been the most interesting (!) by far.

If you feel like the exercise you can ring 'Doc Ken Mbadiwe' (234-90-405-621) and ask him if the name Murray Grey means anything to him. I wrote to him as a business man, Murray Grey. He also died: ran out of a brothel and straight into the path of a bus, poor man. He died happy though.

I feel you should know that the local papers here carry warnings about 'letters from Nigeria'. Also when I was recently doing some work on an Australian naval vessel the daily orders carried a warning about letters from Nigeria. And that when I went looking on the internet for the origin of 'ogbono' I found warnings about letters from Nigeria from such far away places as Alaska and Finland.

Your letters have been a source of great pleasure and I hope you don't take offence at my playing along. I am just sorry I never got a usable recipe as a souvenir! See, I set my sights much lower than you; no cash prizes just memento recipes. And possibly a photo.

I would appreciate it if you answered a few questions about the 'transaction'. You don't have to, of course, but it was curiosity that got me as far into it as I did.

Greed is a wonderfully powerful force but do many people fall for the story? I find it too incredible myself but certainly many people I have told about it have said 'Why don't you open a bank account and see if they put the money in?" Hope springs eternal.

You like quotations. The Patron of my 'company', Phineas T. Barnum is noted for a particular quotation:

"There is a sucker born every minute."

I must congratulate you on some of the embellishments though: the certificates, the money paid for registering the company, they all go to add body to the story.

Do you have to pay to get in at your end? Is it like some form of chain letter? Is the real John Akpeki one of those four people on the list to get a share of the $21,500?

There seems to be so many letters coming out of Nigeria (Why just Nigeria?) that it can't be just a few people doing it.

Where do you get the names from?

So many questions.

Keep smiling John,

Regards to Rita (and the others on the panel),

Best wishes, 'Mavis'.