Journal from a federal prison – Day Fourteen

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.


Here are my emails Fitz, Malone and I discussed today.

From: Mike Scott
To: Emmanuel Okafor
Date: May 25th, 2017. 4:19 PM

Emmanuel!

My brother, I hope this finds you well. My colleague and worship partner James Halpert told me about your situation. I am sorry to hear about your family’s troubles but I believe I can help you. My church, The Church of the Holy Mackerel, wants to expand into Africa and especially the area near Uganda. James told me you were a brother in Christ and he feels you’re a man of great faith, a man who is willing to bear the burden of Christ.

Part of bearing Christ’s burden is helping spread his word. We wish to establish a church in Uganda; it seems the wonderful people of there know little of the Holy Mackerel. Unfortunately we cannot offer the 700 smackeroos that you asked James for. Our minimum payment is 50,000 smackers but this must be used to construct a church, recruit members, pay for mackerel fish (we will instruct you how to make them holy), and purchase the appropriate instruments to fight the battles of faith.

We accept only complete commitment and will need proof of your devotion before considering transferring the fee to you. If you are truly committed, I need you to prove it by wearing an orange shirt with the letters HOLY MACKEREL in large letters, Comic Sans font, on the front. In addition, I need you to have fish gills drawn on your cheeks and makeup over your eyelids to make them look like the eyes of a mackerel.

This may seem to be an outrageous demand, but I can assure you that our accountant Dwight “Shrewd” Farmer who is the assistant to the main pastor will demand verification before considering payment. This is why we call him shrewd. He refuses payment unless all conditions are met.

HOLY MACKEREL!

Mike Scott


 From: Emmanuel Okafor
To: Mike Scott
Date: May 27, 2017. 4:48 AM

Pastor MIKE SCOTT. What a pleasant news to hear from you and THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY MACKEREL. After a long consideration and much prayer me and my family have decided to join your church. I can assure you we will be warriors of the faith for you. Here is our information to make the payment with WESTERN UNION:

[Redacted]

As soon as the money is received we will start to “used to construct a church, recruit members, pay for mackerel fish (we will instruct you how to make them holy), and purchase the appropriate instruments to fight the battles of faith.”

Your brother in Faith,

Emmanuel

Here’s where I “mucked up,” as Malone put it. It’s amazing how clean his language is when Fitz is around. My lawyer tells me the term “purchase the appropriate instruments to fight the battles of faith” is where things stopped being a harmless joke, which is nonsense because that’s when it finally got fun. Whatevs. Different strokes for different folks I guess.



Here’s the email we reviewed on Monday.

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

ATTN;

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.

Emmanuel 


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

Emmanuel,

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 chain Fitz, Malone, and I discussed on Tuesday.

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

My brother JAMES HALPERT,

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,

Emmanuel 


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?



Here’s the chain Fitz, Malone, and I discussed on Wednesday.

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

My brother JAMES HALPERT,

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,

Emmanuel

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 emails Fitz, Malone and I discussed Thursday.

From: Emmanuel Okafor
To: James Halpert
Date: May 15th 2017. 1:52 AM

My brother JAMES HALPERT,

What a pleasure to here from you again. What a big relief that the CHURCH OF THE HOLY MACKEREL and PASTOR MIKE SCOTT are able to help you.

I understand what an undo burden these problems with money can be because I also have the same burden. Every day that passes it is more and more likely that my family can not recover our money. What are we to do?

I feel that because CHURCH OF THE HOLY MACKEREL is can help with your money that for you it is no longer an emergency situation with financials. Because it is no longer an emergency it is easy now for you to sent me the $700 (seven hundred dollars) to initiate the bank transfer. Once this is done and you have $2.5 million (two and one half million dollars) I feel you will never have difficulties with money again.

Please send me your banking information so that we can begin this transaction to solve both of our problems.

Your brother,

Emmanuel


From: James Halpert
To: Emmanuel Okafor
Date: May 21st, 2017. 4:19 PM

Brother Emmanuel,

I have talked again with Pamela and she thinks you are trying to scam me. She says that I will never see my money again if I send it to you. She says this because she does not know you as I do, but unfortunately she controls our money. She already paid the mortgage for this month so I no longer have the money I planned to send you. What a pity.

I have thought long and hard about your predicament. The Church of the Holy Mackerel often speaks about the battle against the world’s standards that Christians are always fighting. I told him about your predicament and he said he may be willing to help if conditions are met.

Maybe it is more efficient if you contact him directly. His email is [redacted]. I’m sure he will be willing to help.

Your brother in Christ,

James Halpert.

Fitz and Malone had trouble believing Emmanuel was buying into The Church of the Holy Mackerel and hadn’t done a 10-second internet search and saw all the The Office references. I didn’t believe it at first either. They were less amused by it than I was. Fitz has the personality of a potato.


 

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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