Journal from a federal prison – Day Twelve

These are the original emails I sent to a 419 scammer which brought me to the jail I’m journaling from. I’m going to write some things in the margin of the email so that whoever is reading this can understand what I was thinking. Special Agents Fitzgerald, Malone, and I discussed this part of the chain today.


From: Emmanuel Okafor
To: James Halpert
Date: May 14th, 2017. 1:34 AM


I am sorry to hear about your current difficulties with financials. Please tell your family that your brother Emmanuel wishes them well.

Unfortunately I cannot send you your requested sum of $700 (seven hundred dollars) at this time because of a limit of bank transfers we can make. As you know I can not send more than one bank transfer per month so it is easier for me to send you the sum of $25,000,000 (twenty five million dollars) as one sum. From this sum you can use the $700 (seven hundred dollars) to pay your mortgage and buy foods for the family for this month.

Please send me your bank information of the bank name, your account number, and your routing number so that I can send you the money to feed your family.

Your brother,


That’s it. He had the chance to drop the scam but continued to try to rob me when I was already broke. Let’s have some fun with Emmanuel.

From: James Halpert
To: Emmanuel Okafor
Date: May 17th, 2017. 4:19 PM

Brother Emmanuel,

As you know I have financial difficulties at the moment. I wish I was able to send you the fee to initiate our bank transfer but I simply cannot.

Luckily, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: As many do I have found renewed faith in this difficult time. I have recently found a church in my city which is willing to help my family, The Church of the Holy Mackerel. The pastor is a kind, generous man, but demands total dedication to The Church. His name is Mike Scott and he’s a bit of a character; I feel like I am watching television when he speaks. My wife tells me to be careful with him because he seems gullible. He doles money out with little thought and my better half thinks that this money may be wasted instead of spent in the local community it comes from.

After much deliberation, my wife and I decided to commit to the Church of the Holy Mackerel. The pastor Mike Scott has told us that as soon as we are able to show our devotion to the church he can award us with the $700 for groceries and paying our mortgage this month. What a Godsend he is.

Did I tell you he is odd? He wants us to make a video declaring our dedication to the Holy Mackerel and quote the Bible. I’ve never met a man odder than Mike Scott.

Brother Emmanuel, I am sorry for speaking only of my difficulties. How are you? Have you been able to find somebody who is willing to help with your financial situation? I am willing to donate, but as you know my wife Pamela is more careful with money. She thinks that you are trying to scam me, but she does not know you as a brother like I do. She wants me to ask you as a test what her favorite color is.

Your brother,

James Halpert

Aside from trying to rob me in a time of need, I’ve now put the bait out for him to try to rob a gullible pastor. I’m giving him a second second chance to drop the scheme. If he blows this I’ll have no sympathy.

Here’s the email we reviewed on Monday.

From: Emmanuel Okafor
To: James Halpert
Date: May 3rd, 2017, 2:12 AM


My friend, I hope this message finds you well. As you know, I have had a difficult time most recently.

As I’m sure you’ve heard there was much violence in the GREAT RIFT VALLEY in KENYA where my family has lived for generations. My father left to escape the violence but left his business OKAFOR BANKING UNION behind. He had to pay guards at the border with UGANDA to let him escape NIGERIA but could not bring money from his business with him. In UGANDA there are laws against transferring sums of more than $10,000 USD (ten thousand dollars) into or out of the country without a business license. As you know we are not citizens of UGANDA and thus cannot have a business license in this country.

My father’s business including OKAFOR BANKING UNION now have a sum of $25,000,000 (twenty five million dollars) of assets in KENYA but is unable to move this money. He wishes to move to the UNITED STATES but as of now does not controls his money. My father is fearful that people will steal this money and demanded for me that I help him keep this money safe.

My family needs your help with this. I am in NAIROBI KENYA and can send you the full sum of $25,000,000 (twenty five million dollars) if you can hold onto this money until my father can immigrate to the UNITED STATES. For your efforts you can keep TEN PERCENT of the total sum which is a sum of $2,500,000 (two million and five hundred dollars) after the time has come where it is safe again for my father to possess his sum of money.

The steps for this transaction are easy. I am in KENYA and you can send me your bank account number and routing number and name of your bank so that I can wire you the sum of $25,000,000 (twenty five million dollars). After some months when my father has come to the UNITED STATES you can again send him his money and keep your TEN PERCENT.

Please sir, send me your banking information as soon as you can so that I can start the process of protecting the money of my father.

A friend in need is a friend in deed.


From: James Halpert
To: Emmanuel Okafor
Date: Friday, May 15th 2017. 4:19 PM


I am always pleased to hear from an old friend. As you know my work at The Office in Scranton, Pennsylvania has ended, but I do my best to stay busy. As you are aware I am a man of The Lord and had difficulty in the business world, where I felt that I could only be paid by taking the money of others. You know me as a man of great charity; a man who cannot in good conscience take the money of others. I understand you to be the same type of person which is why our friendship has persevered despite our different locations.

I still remember the day we met. It was a great time and maybe the best of my time at The Office. What is your favorite story of our time together? Mine was when my wife Pamela made a short movie of our best moments. Do you remember this movie? What was your favorite part?

I wish to call you a friend, but you are more than a friend to me. You are a brother, one who I will trust through thick and thin, one who would never hurt me. I hope to hear from you soon.

Your brother,

James Halpert

For the first time Malone and Fitz weren’t upset with me. I think they saw that I was a dork with too much time on my hands and not a theocratic terrorist recruiting child soldiers. He asked why so many words were CAPITALIZED. I didn’t know either but I figured it was probably a copy and paste job.

Here’s the email Malone, Fitz and I reviewed on Tuesday

From: Emmanuel Okafor
To: James Halpert
Date: May 7th 2017. 1:52 AM


What a pleasure to here from you again. Our time in SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANAI was the best time of my life. I remember that your work was difficult but we still had a strong friendship together. I will value this friendship through my life whole.

I also remember the video of your life that you made. I can not think of my favorite part as the whole movie was an inspiration to me. How can I select just one moments from the movie which inspires my life?

I am happy you think of my in such a positive way. I am sure because of this that you will be willing to help my family with our problems now. Please with haste send us the name of your bank, your routing number, and your bank account number so that we can begin to help each other from our current situation.

Your brother,


From: James Halpert
To: Emmanuel Okafor
Date: May 11th, 2017. 4:19 PM

Brother Emmanuel,

After much deliberation with my family, we have decided to accept your offer to help you and your family transfer a buttload of money to me. Unfortunately as you know we are not paid well right now as I recently quit my job. I need you to send me just $700 ASAP so we can pay our mortgage and buy food until the end of the month.

As you know, a friend in need is a friend indeed, and I am a friend in need. I understand that you have the full amount of money at your disposal so please be willing to send this small amount via Western Union so that we can eat this week. I will send you my full name for the purpose of sending the money if you approve.

Your brother,

James Halpert

So, I’m going to write some things in the margin of the email so that whoever is reading this can understand what I was thinking. Otherwise you’ll just think I’m a dick. I’ll handwrite and highlight everything that wasn’t in the email chain to make sure you know what I was saying vs. what I was thinking.

I knew he wouldn’t send any money via Western Union. Just in case, I didn’t send a location or any specific information for him to actually send it. Let me reiterate for the reader: there was no way for him to send me the money.

So why did I send him that information? It was a morality check. Before I play with any scammer too much I give them an out. I present them with a reason that I truly need the money. If they back down, I leave them alone. If they still try to rob me when they know that I need the money, I have some fun with them. Guess which path Emmanuel chose?



How I ended up in a federal prison, interrogated by the FBI, from the beginning.

Day Zero: A midnight raid by the DHS

Day One – Tuesday, August 1st

Day Two – Wednesday, August 2nd

Day Three – Thursday, August 3rd

Day Four – Friday, August 4th

No interrogations over the weekend. I needed breathing room so I demanded my lawyer.

Day Five – Monday, August 7th

Day Six – Tuesday, August 8th

Day Seven – Wednesday, August 9th

Day Eight – Thursday, August 10th

Day Nine – Friday, August 11th


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