Insult to my Intelligence

I met a Nigerian Australian scammer today, whose plot was so paper thin, I felt it was real insult to my intelligence.  So this old man turns up without appointment at my office and said he was looking for an insurance bond.  Our receptionist sent a management trainee from our Business Development team to speak to him, and mgt trainee in turn called me to join them in the meeting room.

Mr Scammer showed me a letter that says he’s representing a public construction company from Australia, to look for a “good country overseas, with favourable tax laws & ‘of course it’s all legal’, to set up a new company so as to do many more projects and business”.  His search brought him to Singapore.  In order to raise capital for this new company, he would like to find a Standard & Poor’s rated ‘A’ or similar Moody’s rated insurance company, to issue a payment obligation guarantee, that this new company has the ability to repay USD200mil worth of financing, at the end of the 10-year bullet maturity date.

Focusing all my energies on not rolling my eyes at Mr Scammer, I told him that this structure was not possible because insurers can only issue performance bonds, and not financial guarantees.  Moreover, even if insurers could support this structure, there’s no way any one was going to issue this sort of bond for a company with no financials.

Mr Scammer would not give up.  Insisted that he’s done this sort of structure many times before with insurers such as Prudential in USA , Zurich in Switzerland, Lloyd’s in London, etc.  He said the only reason he is approaching us in Singapore is because he’s from Australia and he’s here in Singapore now and so he felt that this was good business for us to earn.  He even had the audacity to add that the credit standing of the company was “irrelevant”.

Irrelevant?  What the heck!  When you go to a bank to borrow money, is your credit worthiness “irrelevant”???

Once again, I reiterated that insurers do NOT issue financial guarantees.  Trying to find a more polite way to tell him to get lost, I asked if he has tried approaching the local banks to lend him money (which obviously would not be possible).  He said he did but they refused as they were “unable to think out of the box”.  So I repeated myself.  Insurers do not issue financial guarantees.  Gosh.  I must have said that line like 20 times.  I could sense his frustration but Mr Scammer would not leave!

He tried to take the high & mighty route and said that it’s a pity that this is good money but our insurers do not want to earn it.  He said he could not think why an insurer would not be willing to take the USD90 mil his company would pay, in exchange for a guarantee that they will be able to repay USD220 mil in 10 years.  Good grief.  I didn’t know to give him credit for re-working the Nigerian lottery scam story, or to feel even more insulted that he thinks I’m gullible enough to buy the story.

So I used this line that all insurers use when they want to decline a risk – “I’m sorry we could not be of more help”. 

I think I must have said that 5 times… and repeated the line about “insurers cannot issue financial guarantees” another 10 times… before Mr Scammer finally gave up & left our office.

After he left, the management trainee showed me his name card.  I only have one phrase in Hokkien to describe it – WAH LAU EH.

The name card was printed out this dull gold paper (the sort I used to use to make greeting cards with when I was in secondary school) and everything was typed in this cursive font:

“JTown Capital Limited

Mr J Molley”

Goodness gracious.  Couldn’t he at least spend some money to print a more presentable name card?  And “”?  Aiyoh… since when got this domain name? 

I forgot to mention that the letter he showed me was also typed in this super old English.  Totally not a writing style of this century.

While recounting the incident to Iceman, a thought came to me – maybe this guy is some old-time scammer who was just released from prison after 20 years or so.  Hence his old style of writing, crappy presentation & obvious lack of IT knowledge.

Whatever the case, I really think he needs to work on his con job skills.  He definitely won’t be seeing USD220 mil from any one at this rate!

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May 2011