Journal from a federal prison – Week Four Recap

This week was where things really went wrong. To make a long story short, I recruited Emmanuel into Lord’s Resistance Army, a very real, very dangerous theocratic militia recruiting child soldiers to fight a battle against several governments in Central Africa. I know that Emmanuel is thousands of miles away from the LRA and had no intention to join, but his recruitment videos told several government agencies otherwise. I guess I could have been smarter about the whole thing.

 



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. I’ll go in order so it’s easy to keep up with everything.


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 last 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 last 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 what Fitz, Malone and I discussed last 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.



Here’s what Fitz, Malone and I discussed last Friday.

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 Malone, Fitz and I went over on Monday the 21st.

From: Mike Scott
To: Emmanuel Okafor
Date: May 29th, 2016. 4:19 PM

Emmanuel!

Did you not read the message? I need the photo of you wearing an orange shirt with the letters HOLY MACKEREL in large letters, Comic Sans font, on the front. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you use Comic Sans font. 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.

Without this we cannot begin to process the buttload of $macker$ we’re ready to send. We have several other groups who may receive this money, so I need this photo As Soon As you Possibly can (ASAP) so that you can join us in our fight against unrighteousness. We are the Lord’s Resistance Army and we need you to join us to make Uganda what it should be: A land of righteousness, a land serving the Lord. I feel you are a strong and worthy fighter, but maybe I feel wrong and there are others who are better. If you wish to show your willingness to fight for righteousness then you must send this photo immediately.

HOLY MACKEREL!

Mike Scott


From: Emmanuel Okafor
To: Mike Scott
Date: May 30th, 2017. 1:52 AM

Pastor MIKE SCOTT,

Please forgive the mistake from earlyer. The photograph you asked for is in an attachment at the bottom of this email. No one will fight stronger for the LORDS RESISTANCE ARMY than I will and for this I need your support of $50,000 (fifty thousand dollars).

Please send the payment to:

[Redacted]

Your brother in Christ,

Emmanuel

[Attachment: LRAUganda.jpg]

I remember thinking this was a bad idea when I wrote that email. The rest were just meant to waste Emmanuel’s time, but this one had some teeth. I could see the hate in Fitz’s glare when he read the email to me. I tried to explain to him what I was thinking but I didn’t know either.

I told Fitz it’s because I was sick of the prank. I started the whole story to waste Emmanuel’s time so he couldn’t scam anyone else, but he was better at wasting time than I was. I wanted him gone. I figured bringing up the Lord’s Resistance Army would get him to leave me alone.


Here’s the email we reviewed yesterday, the 22nd.

From: Mike Scott
To: Emmanuel Okafor
Date: July 21, 2017

Emmanuel!

I’m sorry to tell you this but Dwight “Shrewd” Farmer demands more verification of your commitment to the Holy Mackerel. We need to know that you have a congregation as well. You may be the Holy Mackerel, but in order to fight against the world’s evil you need to have a large congregation. We call this the Lord’s Resistance Army and it is mandatory for the donations of 50,000 smackeroonies.

In order to show us that you have an Army recruited for the Lord’s Resistance I need to see a photo of you and your congregation of no less than 15 individuals. They should wear military clothing to signify their fight against the evils of the world. I need to see a flag behind your group with a red band at the top, a black band in the middle, and a sky-blue band at the bottom, and the number 1987 written in the middle. These colors represent our church as they are what we use to bait the mackerel and 1987 is the year our battle began. We use those colors to make our bait; baiting is a large function of our church, without it there would be no members. I believe even now that I am baiting you.

Let’s build the Lord’s Resistance Army together. You are welcome to use teenagers in your photo, we find that if we train the young to fight for the Lord that they will be loyal soldiers throughout their lives.

HOLY MACKEREL!

Michael Scott

 Malone called this “entrapment.” I told him I didn’t entrap him in anything and gave Emmanuel several reasons to leave throughout our exchanges. I thought the difference was just semantics. Malone thought it was entrapment.

“Are you aware that you were having children and refugees in Uganda swear allegiance to the Lord’s Resistence Army? Do you even know what that is?,” Fitz asked me.

Of course I knew what the LRA was but I wasn’t recruiting them for it. In a way I was — the ceremonies, colors, name and whatnot but it was meaningless. If a kid wears a Cowboys jersey it doesn’t make him a pro quarterback. Fitz disagreed with my first point and told me my second was the dumbest thing he’s heard in an official investigation.


Here’s the email chain we went over on Wednesday.

From: Emmanuel Okafor
To: Mike Scott
Date: July 21st, 2017. 1:22 AM

PASTOR MIKE SCOTT,

Please accept my apologies for the photo, I was busy making offerings to the HOLY MACKEREL. You can be assured that if you send us the $50,000 USD (fifty-thousand dollars) that this money will not only go 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.” but also to other things for the LORDS RESISTANCE ARMY.

I can assure you we will be warriors of the faith for you. Attached is the picture you requested. Here is our information to make the payment with WESTERN UNION immediately:

[Redacted]

Your brother in Faith,

Emmanuel

[Attachment: LRAUganda2.jpg]


From: Mike Scott
To: Emmanuel Okafor
Date: July 23rd, 2017. 4:19 PM

Emmanuel!

Was the photo you sent me a joke? What will I tell Shrewd? I want to help, I have seen your heart and within you I see the heart of a warrior. I am sure you can fight against those who do not accept the Lord’s role as King and Saviour of Uganda, but Shrewd doesn’t believe me. He told me that your photo only included ten people and that they were in street clothes.

Are you willing to fight for the lord in street clothes? I have yet to see fierce warriors fighting a godless world in jeans and sandals. And where are your weapons??

Shrewd is really breathing down my neck about you. Are you willing to join the Lord’s Resistance Army and fight against evil or not?

Shrewd told me he wished instead to donate to an orphanage in South Sudan, where the children whose parents have passed away during the country’s civil war. It is hard to argue that these people need the money and I have trouble telling Shrewd “no.”

If you are still interested in 50,000 $mackeroonie$ (universal slang for American dollars) to help build The Lord’s Kingdom, please include the picture as described before. If I don’t receive it by the end of the week I’ll be forced to donate the money somewhere else.

HOLY MACKEREL!

Mike Scott

“You’re digging your own grave,” Fitz told me. Not only was I recruiting members for Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, a very real terrorist group, but I was demanding they equip theirselves with military uniforms and weapons.

I was getting a lump in my throat as we talked. Usually my pranks involved water balloons or prank calls. In hindsight mentioning the LRA instead of just asking for more photos with fish makeup was a bad move. Live and learn they say, but it’s different when “learn” might involve being Bubba’s boyfriend for the next 10 years.



Here’s what we went over yesterday.

From: Mike Scott
To: Emmanuel Okafor
Date: July 27th, 2017. 4:19 PM

Emmanuel!

Shrewd is really breathing down my neck about you. Are you willing to join the Lord’s Resistance Army and fight against evil or not?

Shrewd told me he wished instead to donate to an orphanage in South Sudan, where the children whose parents have passed away during the country’s civil war. It is hard to argue that these people need the money and I have trouble telling Shrewd “no.”

By the end of the week I need a video of your army you have recruited to the Lord’s Resistance Army. While a video may sound difficult, it will not be longer than 20 seconds and will require nothing extra from the photo described earlier. The description for the video is below:

 The video must be of you and your congregation of no less than 15 individuals. They should wear military clothing to signify their fight against the evils of the world. I need to see a flag behind your group with a red band at the top, a black band in the middle, and a sky-blue band at the bottom, and the number 1987 written in the middle. These colors represent our church as they are what we use to bait the mackerel and 1987 is the year our battle began.

In the video your congregation of no less than 15 individuals must say these words in unison:

“We are new in Uganda but we are old in spirit. We pledge allegiance to the Lord’s Resistance Army and will fight evil in all it’s forms. There is no enemy too strong for us. We will not be defeated.”

While this video may sound difficult it is no different than the photo Shrewd asked for earlier, it just has your congregation speaking now. If this video is not sent within three days then I will sign the check for our money to go to the orphanage. Maybe you do not want the money for your congregation and instead want it to go to help those in South Sudan. If so, this is a commendable action.

Please have the video to me in three days or less. If I do not receive a video by that time I will assume that you have decided instead to allow us to spend the 50,000 smackers in South Sudan instead.

HOLY MACKEREL!

Mike Scott

In hindsight this looked pretty dumb. It had been five days since I got a reply from Emmanuel so at this point I was swinging for the fences and assuming he wouldn’t reply.

This looks really, really bad for my case. It’s hard to explain to humorless potatoes like Fitz and Malone the humor of “coercing” (their words) a group of men and children do dress in military fatigues, stand in front of a flag representing a terrorist group which is at war with several countries, and pledge allegiance to the group is . When they put it that way it’s really not funny. From the standpoint of making a scammer wasting money on military fatigues and a flag, then getting his friends to make a silly video I still find it funny.

I wanted to agree to disagree. Fitz agreed to nothing.


I never got another email from Emmanuel after I demanded a video of him and his friends pledging allegiance to the Lord’s Resistance Army. He sent one, but I haven’t been able to check my email from prison. Fitz and Malone showed me the video Emmanuel sent and it wasn’t great for my case. It had 12 people, dressed often in green and black clothing, though around half of them were wearing camo too. Their pledge of loyalty to the LRA wasn’t convincing. It had been rehearsed a few times but some of them were speaking way louder than others. The flag was a dyed bedsheet but looked better than I expected it to.

Three weeks ago I would have died laughing at the video. Since I’m watching it with two federal agents and an overmatched defense attorney it is less fun to watch. Reviewing the emails with them was even worse. At least the video was short. In the emails only mentioned the LRA seven times but Malone talked to me like I had spent my entire life trying to recruit for them.

They offered me a plea deal today. Since there was no Church of the Holy Mackerel and thus no money available to send, they were willing to drop the charges of material support to terrorism and money laundering. What gets me is that the fake army I fake recruited claimed to be in Uganda. The LRA is fighting in Uganda and Emmanuel or whatever his real name is blocked his IP address so I can’t prove that he is in Nairobi and whoever he paid to be in the video have never been away from Lagos.

If I could email Emmanuel again and tell him about the scam and have him come clean he might confess to it being fake and get me out of jail, but good luck getting a guy I trolled to help me out of jail.



 

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

This journal is getting pretty long. I guess when you have nothing to do but write it kind of happens. In case you don’t want to read 50 pages to get the gist I’ll recap everything here.

Week one was a tale as old as time. Instead of an alarm clock, I’m woken up by a swat team dragging my face against the floor. When I wake up again I’m in prison being interrogated by Special Agent Malone, who doesn’t like it when you call him Malone. We talked about my life leading up to that day and what made me decide to scam email scammers. The email “scam” was one where I baited Nigerian scammers into making asses of themselves while trying to rob me. We call this 419 baiting or scambaiting. Seeing Korea vets lose their savings to fake charities and fake kids put me over the edge. It started my current disaster.

In week two I met Special Agent Fitzgerald. Him and Malone teamed up to be Bad Cop, Bad Cop. Malone claimed I had impersonated an FBI agent in an email scam. On Friday I found out that impersonating an FBI agent was the least of my problems: I was arrested on terrorism charges, including recruiting child soldiers and running a theocratic militia. It wasn’t a very good week.

In week three we discussed the beginning of my relationship with “Emmanuel — real name unknown — a man who I decided to recruit into the fictitious Church of the Holy Mackerel as a way to waste his time and have fun with him. The more time he wastes with me, the less time he has to scam others.

 

 

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