Tell me a story, but make it believable.

First we had this waiting in our spam comment filter.

“Hi, may I know what theme you are using for this site? it looks prety”

We understand that you may be paid a whole penny for posting the idiotic links in your signature but since the WordPress template name is displayed at the bottom of the blog page, we must assume that the question was not entirely in earnest. We feel, therefore, that we must refuse your request.

Moving on.

In certain ways, the skills of a con artist bear some resemblance to those of a filmmaker. A key contributor to the success of either endeavour is the ability to convince the audience to suspend their disbelief long enough for the message to be delivered. It is the job of the auteur to craft a tale which can be believed, if only for a brief time. We understand that Batman is not real, yet we are willing to pretend that he is for a time in order to be entertained.

A good story is quite often the difference between success and failure. While The Dark Knight entertains, Ishtar comes up short. Harry Potter makes us want to believe that wizards are real and that good can triumph over evil. The Twilight series wants us to believe that it is something more than a tale of bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia (He’s what? 85. She’s 17.) for girls ages ten and up. Some stories work, some do not.

Which brings us to this epic work by one Qin Yunjan. Yunjan spins a tale designed to take us on a magical journey to $8,375,000.00 on deposit somewhere in the mystical Orient.

Let’s see how he does.

Sent: Sunday, May 08, 2011 7:04 PM 

We begin, as is quite often the case, with Mr. Yunjan being unable to supply our name.

Good day,

Innocuous enough.

Greetings to you and your family, I am a staff of Private Banking Services
at the Bank of China (BOC). I am contacting you concerning our customer
and, an investment placed under our banks management 3 years ago.

Our story begins. He sends greetings, clearly not knowing that our family met with an unfortunate accident involving a wood-chipper and a defective safety cord just last month. He lets us know that he is a banker and has an investment which may interest us. Nothing blatantly fraudulent so far. Let’s press on.

I would respectfully request that you keep the contents of this mail
confidential and respect the integrity of the information you come by as a
result of this mail. I contacted you independently of our investigation
and no one is informed of this communication. I would like to intimate you
with certain facts that I believe would be of interest to you.

This  paragraph nudges the fraud detector’s needle off its post a bit. This is a special secret, just between us. Really, no one else knows. We are not completely convinced that Mr. Yunjan is being completely honest here. Still, to be fair, we shall delay passing judgment at this time.

In 2007, the subject matter; ref: bb/boc/bank/0012 came to our bank to
engage in business discussions with our Private Banking Services
Department. He informed us that he had a financial portfolio of 8.375
million United States Dollars, which he wished to have us turn over
(invest) on his behalf.

Mr. Yunjan stated previously that this deposit was three years old, but 2007 was four years ago. The ref colon slash slash code numbery looking bit does add a certain credibility though, don’t you agree?

I was the officer assigned to his case; I made numerous suggestions in
line with my duties as the de-facto chief operations officer of the
Private Banking Services Department, especially given the volume of funds
he wished to put into our bank. We met on numerous occasions prior to any
investments being placed. I encouraged him to consider various growth
funds with prime ratings. The favored route in my advice to customers is
to start by assessing data on 6000 traditional stocks and bond managers
and 2000 managers of alternative investments. Based on my advice, we spun
the money around various opportunities and made attractive margins for our first months of operation, the accrued profit and interest stood at this
point at over 10 million United States Dollars, this margin was not the
full potential of the fund but he desired low risk guaranteed returns on

Mr. Yunjan has begun blowing a bit more smoke here. It seems we need to understand that Mr. Yunjan is a wizard of sorts in the world of investment banking. Although the fact that he was only the de-facto chief of operations seems a bit odd. It also seems a bit much that the original $8.7 million generated $10 million in profit and interest in a few months invested in low risk funds. The fraudometer needle nudges upward yet again.

In mid 2008, he asked that the money be liquidated because he needed to
make an urgent investment requiring cash payments in Europe. He directed
that I liquidate the funds and had it deposited with a firm. I informed
him that the bank would have to make special arrangements to have this
done and in order not to circumvent due process, the bank would have to
make a 9.5 % deduction from the funds to cater for banking and statutory
charges. He complained about the charges but later came around when I
explained to him the complexities of the task he was asking of us. Cash
movement across borders has become especially strict since the incident
of 9/11. I contacted my affiliate in and had the funds available.
I undertook all the processes and made sure I followed his precise
instructions to the letter and had the funds deposited in a security
consultancy firm, the firm is a specialist private firm that accepts
deposits from high net worth individuals and blue chip corporations that
handle valuable products or undertake transactions that need immediate
access to cash. This small and highly private organization is familiar
especially to the highly placed and well-connected organizations. In line
with instructions, the money was deposited. He told me he wanted the
money there in anticipation of his arrival from Norway later that week.
This was the last communication we had, this transpired around 9th
October 2008.

There is a great deal of information here without there being any meaningful explanation. Perhaps Mr. Yunjan moon lighted as a writer for the television program known as “Lost”. At any rate, it appears that many things were done and by many people and with much difficulty and that in October of 2008, it all stopped happening, whatever it was. It that how it sounds to you?

In January this year, we got a call from the security firm informing us
that the inactivity of that particular portfolio. This was an astounding
position as far as I was concerned, given the fact that I managed the
private banking sector I was the only one who knew about the deposit , and
I could not understand why he had not come forward to claim his deposit. I
made futile efforts to locate him I immediately passed the task of
locating him to the internal investigations department of the bank of
china. Four days later, information started to trickle in, apparently he
was dead. A person who suited his description was declared dead of a heart
attack in Canne, South of France. We were soon enough able to identify the
body and cause of death was confirmed.

Mr. Yunjan’s amazing tale is beginning to unravel. In the previous paragraph he outlined the steps taken to deposit the funds as well as the various organizations which helped. In this one, he expresses his surprise at not being the only person who knew about the money. Apparently Mr. Yunjan did not follow up in the intervening three years either. As far as identifying the body goes, well, the needle got a rise out of it.

The bank immediately launched an investigation into possible surviving
next of kin to alert about the situation and also to come forward to claim
his estate. If you are familiar with private banking affairs, those who
patronize our services usually prefer anonymity, but also some levels of
detachment from conventional processes. In his bio-data form, he listed no
next of kin. In the field of private banking, opening an account with us
means no one will know of its existence, accounts are rarely held under a
name; depositors use numbers and codes to make the accounts anonymous.
This bank also gives the choice to depositors of having their mail sent to
them or held at the bank itself, ensuring that there are no traces of the
account and as I said, rarely do they nominate next of kin. Private
banking clients apart from not nominating next of kin also usually in most
cases leave wills in our care, in this case; he died intestate.

Here is the beginning of the major portion of the pitch. A mystery man, with no next of kin and no will has died leaving a great deal of money in Mr. Yunjan’s capable hands. What will Mr. Yunjan do next?

In line with our internal processes for account holders who have passed
away, we instituted our own investigations in good faith to determine who
should have right to claim the estate. This investigation has for the past
months been unfruitful. We have scanned every continent and used our
private investigation affiliate companies to get to the root of the
problem. The investigation did not ever yield any result My official
capacity dictates that I am the only party to supervise the investigation
and the only party to receive the results of the investigation.

Mr. Yunjan decided to do what anyone in this situation would do; scour the earth, but do it discretely, maintaining an aura of secrecy, and then mind wiping everyone involved so that he alone knows the results of the investigation.

This leaves me as the only person with the full picture of what the
prevailing situation is in relation to the deposit and the late
beneficiary of the deposit. According to practice, the firm will by the
end of this financial year broadcast a request for statements of claim to
BOC, failing to receive viable claims they will most probably revert the
deposit back to BOC. This will result in the money entering the BOC
accounting system and the portfolio will be out of my hands and out of
the Private Banking Services Department. This will not happen if I have
my way.

Mr. Yunjan seems quite determined to not allow normal legal procedures to be followed in resolving this case. 

What I wish to relate to you will smack of unethical practice but I want
you to understand something. It is only an outsider to the banking world
who finds the internal politics of the banking world aberrational. The
world of private banking especially is fraught with huge rewards for those
who occupy certain offices and oversee certain portfolios. You should have
begun by now to put together the general direction of what I propose.
There is US$ 8,375,000.00 deposited, I alone have the deposit details and
they will release the deposit to no one unless I instruct them to do so. I
alone know of the existence of this deposit for as far as BOC is
concerned, the transaction with our deceased customer concluded when I
sent the funds to the firm, all outstanding interactions in relation to
the file are just customer services and due process.

Here we go. We are approaching the finish line. Can’t you just feel it? He’s proposing something that might appear unethical to the untrained eye. Or does it appear unethical because we are too stupid to understand how the mysterious world of banking functions?
At any rate, Mr. Yunjan now has total control of the $8.75 million.

They are simply awaiting instructions to release the deposit to any party
that comes forward. This is the situation. This bank has spent great
amounts of money trying to track this man’s family; they have investigated
for months and have found no family. The investigation has come to an end.
My proposal; I am prepared to place you in a position to give instruction
for the release of the deposit to you as the closest surviving relation.
Upon receipt of the deposit, I am prepared to share the money with you in
half. That is: I will simply nominate you as the next of kin and have them
release the deposit to you. We share the proceeds 50/50. I would have gone
ahead to ask the funds be released to me, but that would have drawn a
straight line to me and my involvement in claiming the deposit. I assure
you that I could have the deposit released to you within a few days. I
will simply inform the bank of the final closing of the file relating to
the customer I will then officially communicate with the firm and
instruct them to release the deposit to you. With these two things: all is
done. The alternative would be for us to have the firm direct the funds to
another bank with you as account holder. This way there will be no need
for you to think of receiving the money from the firm. We can fine-tune
this based on our interactions.

The final shoe has dropped. Isn’t Mr. Yunjan a wonderful human being. Rather than embezzle the $8.75 million for himself, he’s willing to have us embezzle it for him in exchange for half. What a saint!

I am aware of the consequences of this proposal. I ask that if you find no
interest in this project that you should discard this mail. I ask that you
do not be vindictive and destructive. If my offer is of no appeal to you,
delete this message and forget I ever contacted you. Do not destroy my
career because you do not approve of my proposal. You may not know this
but people like myself who have made tidy sums out of comparable
situations run the whole private banking sector. I am not a criminal and
what I do, I do not find against good conscience, this may be hard for you
to understand, but the dynamics of my industry dictates that I make this

We have several hundred emails of this type in our archives. All are attempts to convince us that there is something to be had for nothing. All are shorter than this. Were this a stage play, we would be somewhere in the seventh act by now.

Such opportunities only come ones’ way once in a lifetime. I cannot let
this chance pass me by, for once I find myself in total control of my
destiny. These chances won’t pass me by. I ask that you do not destroy my
chance, if you will not work with me let me know and let me move on with
my life but do not destroy me. I am a family man and this is an
opportunity to provide them with new opportunities. There is a reward for
this project and it is a task well worth undertaking. I have evaluated
the risks and the only risk I have here is from you refusing to work with
me and alerting my bank. I am the only one who knows of this situation,
good fortune has blessed you with a name that has planted you into the
center of relevance in my life. Let’s share the blessing.
If you find yourself able to work with me, contact me through this same
email account. If you give me positive signals, I will initiate this
process towards a conclusion. I wish to inform you that should you contact
me via official channels; I will deny knowing you and about this project.
I repeat, I do not want you contacting me through my official phone lines
nor do I want you contacting me through my official email account. Contact
me only through this email address. I do not want any direct link between
you and me. My official lines are not secure lines as they are
periodically monitored to assess our level of customer care in line with
our Total Quality Management Policy.

We draw near a close now. A quick check of the fraudometer shows the needle struggling against the upper end of its range. Mr. Yunjan’s credibility has failed him completely. This is not the opportunity of a lifetime. Most days this wouldn’t qualify as the opportunity of the past ten minutes. As we said we have hundreds of such email in the files. If we were planing to steal $8.75 million we would do it leaving significantly less evidence and would be much selective regarding the sharing of the plan. We most certainly would not explain it to complete strangers and then ask them to be quiet if they were not interested. If we are the only risk Mr. Yunjan is aware of, we would suggest he reevaluate his position.

Please observe this instruction religiously. Please, again, note I am a
family man; I have a wife and children. I send you this mail not without a
measure of fear as to what the consequences, 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 banking clients. Do not betray my confidence.

Mr Yunjan, sorry but you’ve failed to convince us. Telling us that you have a family only make us sad that to think that you survived long enough to breed. You are sending us mixed messages with this closing paragraph. You come to us offering over four million dollars in exchange for nearly nothing on our part. You assure us that it is nearly risk free and warn us that nothing is easy and fortunes don’t arrive on golden platters. Please, pick a direction and stay with it.

Best regards,

Sorry, Mr. Yunjan, but we respectfully decline you invitation to commit international crimes with you.

We feel that, in the final analysis, you are most assuredly a Fraud.

Should Mr. Yunjan contact you, please, if not for your own sake, then for the sake of his poor family, delete his email and return to your life.

Move along, there is nothing more for you here.

That is all.

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