22 February, 2008

$900,000 Greed

Greed can never lead to prosperity. NO, I am not here to give any moral lesson but to tell a small story about a greedy working wife who loved her husband a lot. Sounds a little weird, but it's true. Akash was at home enjoying his long weekend. Swati had gone to work a little reluctantly as she wanted to spend time with her loving husband. Since she started working, they didn't get much time together as she used to spend previously. She wanted to be with him but she had to attend her office as she was already warned for her absenteeism for the current financial year. Swati wished that if she had a fortune or lot of wealth, she could have stayed back at home along with her husband.

She came to office and started with her work. Nothing was exciting. Her mind went back to Akash now and then. She was physically present at work but mentally she was at home with her husband. She wondered," What is he doing? Did he have his lunch on time?" Half a day passed by but Swati was unable to concentrate on her work. Suddenly Akash rang up. He said," Swati, I have been offered a position in a UK bank. What do I do? If I join there then I need to pay the bond amount to my current company. I am trying to negotiate if they can bear the bond amount." Swati was happy. She knew that Akash always wanted to work abroad. He wanted to see the world. He wanted to take up this opportunity but was contemplating, as our savings were not enough to pay off the bond money. She said," Don't worry things will be fine. At least speak to them about it." He said, "Yes, I will" and then he hung up. Swati knew that Akash had always dreamed of this and now he was very near to completing his dream. But he had just one obstacle in completing his dream.

Swati was wondering that how can she help Akash. She really wanted to. She thought to herself," If I had a huge sum of money then Akash would have got what he wants, papa would have been relieved of all his post-retirement tensions, my sister would have enough money to get married to a good guy, my younger brother would have all the facilities for his higher education, my mother would have the best of medicines to improve her health." Swati really wished that she could help everyone whom she loved. Exhausted from her tireless thinking, she opened her e-mailbox to see if there was a better job opportunity where she could earn more. She suddenly came across a mail stating ‘Lottery Winning Notification of $900,000'. She was not sure what this could be? Was that another Spam looking for a victim? Or it was a key to the fortune she always wanted. She opened the mail only to find that she had won that sum of money and there was a signed certificate congratulating her.

Her mind started racing," When did I play this lottery? May be I did but I don't remember now. What do I do?" The winning notification stated that she should contact the claim agent on his e-mail along with necessary information. Swati became cautious but she thought that there was no harm in giving it a try. After all, it was just an e-mail. She started calculating $900,000 in Indian rupees. That was in CRORES. The offer was too lucrative. She couldn't resist and wrote back to Mr. Owen D Peterson, the claim agent.

After an hour, Mr. Peterson wrote back to her stating that he needs a proof of her identity and age. A person above 18 is only entitled for the prize money. He wanted her to send a photocopy of her license or passport. Swati sat there in a trance, unable to decide or react. She thought to herself that why should she trust someone over the net. She had heard about many fraud cases. It could be one of them. But the greedier side took charge of the situation and guided her to send the photocopy of her Voter's ID card. She thought that the information on that would not be of much use to a traitor.

Mr. Peterson wrote back accepting the document as a proof of identity and said that the Paying Bank' will contact her soon. He also said that she should be ready with all her banking details for the smooth transfer of prize money into her account. Swati was overwhelmed. She thought that finally god has answered her prayers. He has given this lottery as a blessing for her devotion. God has given her a chance to help all those whom she loved, especially Akash. She thought to herself, "Akash will be very happy. Now he doesn't have to ask anyone to pay off the bond amount. We can utilize this money for our relocation and venturing into a new life in a new country." Swati was very excited but suddenly she felt that if she will tell Akash then he might behave sceptical and stop her from getting this fortune. She decided not to tell him anything till she received the money in her bank account.

She went back home that Saturday with a lot of zest and enthusiasm. Over the weekend, she interrogated Akash about a lot of things, like the currency conversion, process of wire-transfer of money from one country to another or electronic funds transfer, property prices, small business ventures and a lot of other things. Akash was astonished at Swati's inquisitiveness, which was on unusual topics, but he happily answered everything. Swati was very happy that weekend, as she was going to be rich shortly.

Akash saw Swati brimming with joy that Monday. He kept on looking at her as if he had seen a wild boar in the African jungle. Something was missing that day, thought Akash. It was the Monday blues, which Swati reflected every time without fail while going back to work after a weekend. That day she went to office a little early. She quickly sat down to check her e-mails and found that NEDBANK had sent her an international- remittance-funds form.

The form had its registration number, address, phone number, fax, and 24 hours customer service number; duly signed by the GM, international remittance department. It asked for her address, phone number, bank account number, branch code and swift number for international transfer of funds. It also had a disclaimer that the signer is aware of the provision of the Exchange Control Regulation orders and Rules 1961. It also asked about the residential status and other personal information.

Swati understood what she had to do. She collected all the information and was about to send it then suddenly she developed cold feet. She thought, "what if this is fraud? I will lose whatever I have. What will I say to Akash? I will have to lie to him. But will I lie to someone whom I love so much. He will feel so hurt. I can't hurt the one I love. But he needs this money. I need it too."
Swati came back to her home. Her entire energy was sucked out by this turmoil. She decided that she had to tell Akash about it. Akash came home and looked at Swati. She looked very pale and tired. He was looking a little tense that day. He told her that the UK Bank had not quoted anything about the bond payment till then and he was feeling impatient. Swati didn't know what to say. She was in two minds if she should divulge about the lottery winning notification then or later. She knew that Akash was already disturbed and she couldn't have increased his suffering through this news. On the other hand she thought that if she tells him that she has a remedy for his problem then he might be relieved. After she gauged the circumstance, she decided not to say anything to Akash.

But this whole incidence was putting her to unrest. On one hand she could own a big sum of money and on the other hand she can lose the one she loves the most. Akash could sense that something was wrong. He asked her a couple of times but Swati just smiled and kept on asking unusual questions that which shares will get her maximum returns, which has the highest premium and so on. Akash was confused at Swati’s behaviour.

Swati went back to office the next day. She was lost in her own world then she suddenly got a call from an international number. It was the bank manager of the paying bank. He told her that the lottery amount has been approved and she needs to pay foreign exchange tax so that the amount can be transferred to her bank account. He asked her to pay $900. Swati was confused. She told him, "Why don't you deduct this amount from the prize money?" To this he replied that her prize money is under insurance and they need to transfer the full amount. They cannot touch or deduct anything from that amount and it was done to prevent fraud on the lottery money. Swati felt that she couldn't take a decision on her own. She told the bank manager to wait for another day before she pays the tax money. The manager warned that if she won't pay the tax money within seven days then the prize money would be forfeited by the bank and returned to the lottery company. Swati felt an urge to quickly pay off the tax and get hold of the large sum of money that could change the lives of all the people who were related to her.
She came back home planning every possible outcome of the confrontation about the lottery money with Akash. But she could no longer stop herself from sharing this news with him. Akash came back home and looked at Swati who was smiling foolishly. He knew something was wrong. He knew his wife very well. But he waited till Swati herself came up to him to talk. She said, "I need to tell you something." Akash smiled and said that even he needs to talk. He said that she has been behaving strange since few days. Swati told him everything about winning the lottery of $900,000.

Akash looked furious and said, "Swati, are you deprived of something? Am I not able to provide you enough? Why do you run after making quick money? World is full of crooks and you are too innocent to understand." She was shocked. She thought, it was just lottery money and why was he behaving so rough. She tried to reason out but he said," I don't need this money, I believe in my hard work and myself. I don't know why you have to do this. It could be anyone. How could you give your personal information to someone over the net? What if they take your hard earned money as tax and never transfer the prize money? Even if they do transfer the money, how do you know that it's not a terrorist group who is building evidence to scam you? How can you be so foolish?"

She was in tears. She wanted him to believe that all is OK and she has spoken to the bank people. Akash was enraged. He said, "How can you speak to anyone like this? Any person with a VOIP phone can call you and pose that he is calling from abroad." Swati felt helpless. Akash ordered her to delete the mail. Swati felt a deep wound. She thought that Akash was irrational in judging the situation. But she couldn't go against his will and hurt him. She had to choose between $900,000 and her husband.

Next day she went back to her office and the first thing she did was to delete all the correspondence for Winning Notification of $900,000'. She felt greatly relieved. She might have lost a fortune but someone priceless was still in her life. Later it was established that it was a fraud.

Parimita Chakravorty

1 comment:

swati akash said...

well i liked it!!!!!!