I have received the following urgent e-mail from a ch*******@ti*****.uk">Mr. Charles Pederson, (ch*******@ti*****.uk)

My Name is Charles Pedersen, and I am writing you from my home in Santa Clara, about 165 miles east of Havana,the Capital City of Cuba. Santa Clara is known for two landmarks; The famous Revolutionary, the Guevera is buried here; and it is home to one of Cuba’s largest universities, La Universidad Central “Martha Abreu” de Las Villas.

This is a compelling story, and I beg you to be patient and read through to the end? I was adopted in 1960, at age 14 months by Mr. Giovanni Pedersen, the Sugar and tobacco millionaire; some say he also made his fortune from the lucrative illicit drugs trade. My adoption brought so much controversy that Mr. Martins was forced by his family to put me into a foster home at age 5,where I stayed until maturity; Like most Cuban youths, I dreamt of freedom, which every one here knows is called America; like most youths, in time, I joined an Anti-Castro group and that merited automatic 24 hours round the clock surveillance by the Secret Police, but this is also normal in Cuba!

My father nevertheless funded my education through the above mentioned university,where I graduated in Automobile Engineering. I am now a mechanic, making just enough to take care of my wife Vanassa, and 3 boys, Junior, Denis, and woodison. Sadly, My father died in 1998; left only his wife and family (he died childless), and I was not invited to his funeral by his family, but we mourned him deeply; I had no memory of my real father; but I loved him for his kindness to me; he frequently defied his family to visit me? When I got married, he gave my wife a ring present which we later found out was a diamond ring! His Last Will and testament was read and probated. No mention was made of me and my family. Understandably, I carried on with my life.

Two weeks ago, I received a letter from Valencia,Spain a country in Europe,from a Commission, and the contents of that letter put me into shock! I kept the letter for a week without mentioning it to my wife. Eventually I revealed everything to her? Aapparently My late father, Mr. Martins had provided for us after all! Mr.Farigamo had bought shares worth about 8 Million USD in 1978, (when I turned 18) and left it in my name;over time, My father bought more shares and increased the shareholding to USD28 million! ( I am made to understand that the current market value is far in excess of this figure?). The letter explained that according to the terms and agreement reached with my late father, the shares were to be delivered to me (The Beneficiary) one calendar year after his death; The Director of Operation of the Commission in his letter apologized to me for waiting so long to contact me; information of my father?s death simply did not reach him until a chance newspaper publication alerted him of the fact.

I was then invited to come forward to Spain, to claim my Inheritance! The total current value of my shares now stand at approximately USD43 million and rising! But this simple invitation to travel to Spain is fraught with problems! I have no International Passport! It is impossible to travel out of Cuba, unless with special permission which will of course take months of paperwork to procure?As an Anti-Castro sympathizer,I have absolutely no hope of leaving
Cuba legally?The only option is to leave by illegal ferry to the American Coast of Miami, which is extremely dangerous? Every one knows that success rate is about 30%, the unlucky get captured and repatriated back to prison. But the rich and the connected have a better chance by using low flying aircraft ( which will beat the Cuban Radar) to smuggle themselves out.

I therefore desperately need your help! I need you to contact the Commission in Spain on my behalf ; secure the Share Certificates from the Commission,
and sell/redeem the shares for the current market value and deposit the money into your Bank Account. Once the money is secured, I will make the usual underground deal to be smuggled out of Cuba by aircraft, to freedom! There is absolutely NO RISK to you in this transaction; I and my family are the ones at risk… Therefore, I will make no attempt to call you by land based telephone, which is routinely bugged and monitored by the Secret Police.

In consideration of your expenses during the course of this transaction, I freely offer you 20% of the value of my shares. If you are willing to help me recover my inheritance, please so indicate in your return reply mail and I will follow up with more details of the Commission contact address and also more details of the transaction.

Looking forward to your urgent reply,


Mr Charles Pedersen

Unfortunately, all my money is tied up helping a similarly situated gentleman from Nigeria. Can someone out there please help?

Update (1956): A reader informs me he got a similar message from Ghana. No wonder these Third World countries are so messed up. Even the super rich–with millions to pay randomly selected Americans who take no risks–can’t seem to thrive in those societies. A damned shame is what it is.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Sallie says:

    THAT IS “scam/spam”! You must be on someones list. Delete-Delete!

  2. mark says:

    I got one from Ghana not too long ago…

  3. Kate says:

    “Delete- Delete!”

    No! Reply! Reply!

    I usually get at least one personal response from them before insisting that they show their good faith with a bank draft payable to myself…

    If they were faced with sifting through a half million replies a day, these scams would come to a screeching halt. I do know someone who really pullled out the stops. Falsified copies of his bank account, convinced them to meet him at Heathrow to get their money. Heh.

    They were some pissed off when he didn’t show.

  4. Rob says:

    I signed Mr. Pederson up for some of the nice “penis enlargement” spam I’ve been getting lately.

    Hope he enjoys it.