Greetings from Abuja
In one, probably unreliable, online poll, 88 percent of adult Americans (out of a sample of 4,000 people) still believe in Santa Claus. At one level that's strangely comforting, at another level, of course it's terrifying. And somehow it's not surprising. (The survey sample may have been skewed by inclusion of a high percentage of respondents who also believe the earth is just 8,000 years old.)
What those people seem not to be aware of is that Santa no longer lives at the North Pole where Internet reception is poor, unless you have a satellite phone, and even then the bandwidth is shaky, especially if you're doing a high volume of good-news business.
Santa, it's pretty clear, has moved to Abuja, which is the capital of Nigeria and means "Victorious" in a language you've never heard of. The population of Abuja apparently includes a vast number of good-hearted elves with names like "Sister Ruth," "Hon. Mr. Benjamin Smythe, Minister of Unclaimed Trust Accounts," or "Mr. Ebrahim."
It is the full-time occupation of these people to deliver into your email inbox an unrelenting torrent of good news, the astounding variety, volume, value and inventiveness of which could only come from someone with the imagination of Santa.
Since we are among the recipients of these heart-warming missives, we felt compelled to share a few with our readers. Perhaps you will find some of them familiar.
Mrs. Sheri Roberge graciously provided an introduction to the United Nations Compensation Awards Program which is apparently holding a major compensation award awaiting our claim once we provide a modicum of personal information. And, she helpfully advised us that other notifications of compensation awards are probably fraudulent and should be ignored.
Mr. Shamil Haider, son of the late Dr. Noshua Haider and Mrs. Shamim Haider, both of whom were assassinated by the president of Ivory Coast, left $14,500,000 in a South African bank account which Shamil Haider is willing to share in exchange for a safe haven. Imagine our good fortune.
Then there is Si-Wan Park (apparently a member of the Asian ex-pat community living in Abuja) who has a "business of $15,557,210" and awaits contact information to share it.
Ahmen Shaheen, with the "Liberty Investment individualized equity investment portfolio management program" has an investment fund of "over 500 billions" he'd like some help investing.
We cried (sort of) when we heard from Mrs. Alicia James whose husband and children died "the same day in a fire incident." Mrs. James - "I am hearth (sic) broken but to God be all the glory" - is dying of cancer and wants us to take possession of her "2.2 million pounds."
So here's the bottom line: The Abujan elves have a scam for every day of the week. No one will ever contact you via email or telephone with a bona fide offer of riches. Your grandson is not in a Canadian jail and your neighbor did not lose her wallet in London and needs only $2,200 to get home.
You should never send money or personal information of any kind to anyone soliciting you online. Ever.