Oren was ecstatic the day his first short story was published by an online magazine called Twilight Times. The website also published his biography and email address. Oren anticipated receiving feedback from readers of his story about a country where political leaders were determined by weight. The heavier the person the higher the political status he or she attained in the country. The president was a former forklift driver who weighed 1,400 pounds. Oren checked his email and was disappointed to find no emails in relation to his story but was optimistic about receiving feedback by evening. He donned his mail carrier uniform and began his commute.
Oren despised his job with the post office. He was exhausted from the boredom and routine plus his right arm pained him from extending it to deposit and pickup mail from mailboxes for 12 years. Today, he fantasized about the emails that surely awaited him when he finished his shift.
At six p.m. Oren returned to his metal trailer house and plopped himself on the chair in front of his computer. He logged onto his email account and was thrilled to note 11 emails in his inbox. Of the emails, 2 were credit card offers, 2 were rejection letters from online publishing journals, and 7 had “from the desk of…” in the subject line. He opened an email titled “from the desk of Mr. Gumbo Akanta” that read as follows:
Dear Sir or Madam:
This email is in respect of my proposed business transaction. This fund belongs to our deceased customer (Mr. Ono Choji from Japan). He died on July 30th 20-- along with his supposed next of kin in a motor accident.
The banking law here stipulates that if such money remains unclaimed after 5 years, it will go to the bank treasury as unclaimed fund. We discovered the money during our last auditing in our department. We have made all necessary inquiries to find out if we can get any of his relation so that they will come for the claims but no avail. I don’t want the money to go into the bank treasury as unclaimed fund and besides nobody is coming for the fund again.
I got this opportunity and decided to contact you, for the mutual benefit of our both families. The transaction has to undergo normal banking procedures of transferring inheritance fund. You will apply as the nearest person to the deceased customer while I will be here as your partner in the business, guiding you on what to do until the fund enters your account.
I wish to inform you that 40% of the total sum will be for you for the provision of account were we will transfer the money and the rest will be for me and my colleague who is also involved in the business.
You must assure me of your sincerity, so that this transaction is not brought to odium. Please kindly back-out if you cannot assure me of your sincerity in this transaction.
Note that this transaction is 100% risk free and there is no atom of negative on both side only keep it secret until you receive the fund into your account in your country. Based on this you don’t need to travel anywhere regards to this transaction.
Mr. Gumbo Akanta.
Oren opened the other “from the desk of…” emails and all contained similar scams. The sender explains that someone has died and wants to transfer money to an American’s account. Oren had never received such a message before and believed the senders obtained his email address from his biography on Twilight Times.
Oren’s wife Helen returned home and noticed him as he sat in front of the computer with his hands on his head. “What’s wrong?”
“Not one fan email or feedback or criticism or anything!”
“I worry about you getting upset about things that don’t matter. It’s making you sick. You and Nixon (she pointed at their pug, Nixon, who nuzzled on Oren’s feet) are getting thinner all the time and I don’t know why. ” Helen patted Oren and Nixon affectionately on their heads. “I’m sure someone will email you tomorrow. How do beets and fried tuna fish sound for dinner?”
The next day Oren logged onto his email account. There were 30 emails of which 18 were from Mr. Gumbo Akanta. Of the remaining 12 emails 7 were similar scams and 5 were rejections from online fiction magazines. Oren deleted the messages one by one in disgust. After he deleted the last message an icon on his computer screen flashed to inform him that a new unopened email appeared in his inbox. Oren clicked on the icon and read a new email from Mr. Gumbo Akanta.
“God damn it!” Oren shouted.
“What?” Helen said as she walked in the door with a paper sack of groceries. “I bought liver, creamed corn, and lutefisk to fry up for dinner.”
“I got another email from that jackass in that loser country!’ Oren slammed a fist down on the keyboard. “I got a mind to reply back to that jerk!”
“Why don’t you if it’d make you feel better.” Helen cooed not thinking of what she was saying.
“I think I will. And I’m gonna respond back as a woman. A sexy woman! A woman who is going to lead this jerk along and pay him back for wasting my time!” Oren was triumphant with righteousness.
“You are going to write back to him as a woman?” Helen laughed in convulsions and dropped the groceries.
“What’s so funny?”
Helen continued to laugh and between gasps for air said “for someone who has been married six times you don’t know the first thing about women.”
Oren thought it over, and looked at himself in the mirror next to his computer and shuddered. It was true he didn’t know much about women. How would a woman write to a man like Gumbo? What would such a woman be named? He thought about the novel he was currently reading, The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. The female protagonist in it was a vixen named Dominique Franton and Oren thought that was as good of a name as any. He began to type.
Dear Mr. Akanta,
I am thrilled to help you transfer your funds for the late Mr. Ono Choji. Please advise me on what I can do to help you transfer the dollars to my account. I am an American in the Village of Ford Fesitva. I am currently single and am looking for a husband and are curious, Mr. Akanta, are you faithfully married? Perhaps you can come to my country and stay in my village. We are without single men here after losing the battle with the village of Dodge Omni. You could come to my home and we would be married. I have a dowry and am an attractive 21 year old with a body that would help you born you many children.
Please email me back as soon as possible,
Oren smiled and showed Helen the email. She said “Oh, you are not really going to send that, are you? Congress and the President passed the IFPA months ago.”
Oren asked, “What is the IFPA?”
Helen talked as she walked over and began to peck away at the computer’s keyboard typing a Google search on the IFPA. “I know you never watch the news or read the papers but, honey, everyone is talking about it. The IFPA is the Internet Freedom Protection Agency and, oh look, here it is.” Helen tapped on the screen and read with Oren “The IFPA is a new sub-agency of the Department of Homeland Security. The purpose of the IFPA is to detect and apprehend those who engage in illegal online activities. The IFPA protects Americans from criminals, both foreign and domestic, who engage in internet activities that violate people’s freedoms by committing freedom-limiting actions such as: phishing, credit card fraud, identity theft, illegal downloading, espionage, piracy, virus attacks, spam, harassment, and publication of illegal pornography.”
“I’m not committing any crime,” Oren said.
Helen scrolled down the screen and then read the text “Effective tomorrow, March 15, 20--, Directive Order 12810 will be enforced. Directive Order 12810 states that people knowingly engaging with those committing internet fraud are also guilty of committing a crime punishable by up to and including 7 years imprisonment or a fine up to and including $200,000.”
Oren scowled and said “that sounds disturbing and vague. This is nonsense that cannot be enforced.”
Helen said “Directive 12810 protects you and everyone around you from criminals who are trying to scam others out of their money.”
Oren said, “How can it be a crime to engage with others who commit crimes? This is ludicrous.”
“Well,” Helen thought for a moment, “it stops people from knowingly engaging with criminals and getting scammed. It’s a good way to stop people from trying to get free money from scammers.”
“Whatever happened to Darwinism? You know, like survival of the fittest? If you are stupid enough to take one of these scammers serious then you don’t deserve to have any money.”
Helen said, “Just the same, you are acting online like you want to take money illegally from this guy’s account. It is illegal now for both the criminal and the sucker who tries to take a deal that he knows is too good to be true thanks to the IFPA.”
Oren lamented, “It’s just a joke! No one in their right mind will take me serious!” As soon as Helen turned her back Oren sent the email.
The following morning Oren logged into his email account and read the following:
How are you and your family? Hope all is well my dear sister. I am living at home with parents. So I will like to propose to marry you so if you are willing to marry with me you let me know, ok? And I will like to see your present photo so you can send me one of your picture so I will know you better by myself you feel free with me ok? As soon as I here receive your picture I will send my picture so that you will know me as well. Don’t forget to send me your telephone number so that I will be able to call you. I will be waiting to hear from you soon.
Mr. Gumbo Akanta
Oren read the email with a wry grin and soon typed his reply.
Dear Mr. Gumbo Akanta,
I am anxious to hear more about your proposal of marriage to me. Are we now engaged? Here is my phone number (last night Oren memorized a phone number from a pay phone booth and inserted it here in the email). Please look at my enclosed picture and send me your photograph. As you can see from my photo my breasts allow me the privilege of nursing an entire village.
I will be able to provide for both of us as someone from Kenya sent me an email and has proposed to send me several millions American dollars and actually trusts me to hold these dollars in my account.
I look forward to your earliest possible email. Until then, goodbye Gumbo, my dear sweet fiancée!
For the photograph Oren attached a picture he downloaded from trailertrashhotties.net.
After sending this email Oren noticed an email from “John Galt Publications.” He clicked on it and read:
Dear Mr. Oren Boyle:
I read your story on Twilight Times Publications and was intrigued. I need stories like this one in my online magazine John Galt Times. Please send any similar stories you have along with your biography, phone number, and home address.
Oren jumped up from his chair and danced about the floor space surrounding his computer. His hips gyrated in unison as his dirty socks skidded back and forth across the kitchen floor. Oren replied back with his six other short stories along with home address, phone number, and biography.
That day Oren misdelivered a record-setting 44 pieces of mail as he completed his postal route. He was in ecstasy as he fantasized about John Galt’s reaction to his stories. Oren returned home and logged onto his email account and was disappointed that there was no new email in his inbox. “Not even spam?” wondered Oren.
On the following morning Oren logged on and received the following email:
My Dear Sweatheart: (sic)
I am in need of plane ticket to your village. I am unable to contact you at phone number you sent me. Please call me at +226-77-23-33-23. Do so quickly in haste so I can receive funds from you to marry you and have you as my wife.
Mr. Gumbo Akanta
Helen walked into the room and said, “How does boiled ham with cabbage sound for dinner tonight? We can have bacon-flavoured milkshakes for dessert.” She paused in front of the window by Oren’s computer. “Honey, look at all of the trucks parked in front of our house. Why—what are they doing?”
Oren stood up and looked out the window and noticed three black SUV’s parked on Zodiac Street. Each SUV contained two men dressed in suits. Oren’s stare was returned by six pairs of binoculars focused on him. “Sweet Jesus,” Oren moaned.
Helen glared at the men and glanced back at Oren and whispered, “The IFPA?” She put her hands on her hips and said, “You didn’t really send those emails to that guy in that country did you?’
“Oh, come on! The emails I sent were ridiculous! If someone from the IFPA read them they would chuckle and call me a moron. They’d never take that stuff serious! ‘The Village of Ford Festiva?’ They would know it was a joke!”
Helen shrieked, “You led along what you thought was a poor stinky village person and instead it was someone from the IFPA. You’ll go to prison for this.”
Oren pointed toward the window and cried, “Impossible! There are millions of real criminals and paedophiles out there.”
Helen whispered, thinking that somehow the men in the SUV’s could hear them through the walls, “Everyone with an ounce of common sense stopped committing internet crimes when Directive 12810 was passed. You just lived in your own little world, Oren, involving you and the post office and your silly short stories. If you paid attention to the rest of society and listened to me about how serious internet crime is you wouldn’t have done this.”
Oren said, “Ridiculous! They would never send six officers for something as stupid this.”
Helen put a finger on Oren’s lips to silence him and said, “Yes they would send six officers for something like this. You are the last internet criminal in America, and they are going to make an example out of you.”
“But if it’s the IFPA how’d they find me?”
“Who was this John Galt guy who sent you that email?” Helen whispered.
“What are you implying?” Oren asked.
“How well did you know this John Galt from John Galt Publications? Did you check the guy out or did you just assume he was legit?” Helen continued “I bet that was the IFPA seeing if you were stupid enough to give them your home address with your biography.”
Oren rushed to the keyboard and Googled “John Galt Publications.” There were zero hits.
Oren whispered, “Who is John Galt?”
As if in answer the doorbell rang, and Oren walked over to the front door and peeked through the peephole. A man from the SUV’s stood in front of the door and held a cardboard box that allegedly contained pizza.
Oren swung the door open and noticed the five other men in suits standing behind the bushes. Oren whispered, “I was just playing around” as the IFPA and Department of Homeland Security officers began to question him for “engaging in activities contradictory to the interests of the United States.”
Read the other chapters
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