After fifteen long years of writing these columns, I’m sad to report this will probably be my last.

Yes, friends, my ship has finally arrived. I’ve hit the big time. Sayonara to work and toiling at the daily grind. I’ll send you cards as soon as I get settled in my new mansion, perhaps in the south of France or somewhere exotic. You might want to visit me sometime. I’ll put out my address and number as soon as I get settled in.

My options are still open since I haven’t made up my mind where I want to retire.

Unlike a lot of you out there who have saved and saved, I always had a feeling my number would come up and I’d strike it rich. I’ve kept this secret to myself, but now that virtual fortune has found me, I can share it with you. That’s the kind of person that I am.

Generous to a fault.

You see, I am holding in my hands three, count ’em, three’.letters from 3 different people in Africa who trust me so much they have contacted me to help them transfer some money out of their countries. The total amount on these letters is a startling 55.7 million American dollars. Yes, friends and most all of this loot is designated to be mine, all mine. Obviously these people have carefully screened no telling how many other individuals and have found me worthy of their trust.

The first letter is from a Mrs. Serena Jones who lives in Kuwait. Mrs. Jones has graciously advised me that her late husband, Dr. Jones, has left some 28 million in cash sitting in a vault in Europe and she wants me to have it. I simply cannot believe my luck. Imagine some widow lady over in Kuwait with access to over 28 million and she just picked me out as a nice guy who seems worthy of receiving it. I don’t know what to say. She says she wants me to take this money and use it for good, worthy and charitable causes. No strings attached. Just call her or her attorney at once to get all of the details on this stroke of luck. This has to be for real, since she says her attorney is currently in West Africa doing some research. I called the number listed but found it was to some answering machine in Ohio. Ohio’Well, they must have misprinted the number in my letter. Surely, that’s the reason. Yeah, that must be it.

The next one is from Mrs. Elizbeth Taylor, the wife of the former president of Liberia. She writes to tell me that her husband will give me 18% of the 20 million in cash he has hidden. I can also have the entire contents of another trunk, which is filled with gold. I know this one has to be for real, since she says she will send me a picture of the gold if I ask for it. The gold is in a bank in Ghana and all I have to do is tell them to ship it to me and they will send it to the US of A with my name on it disguised as ‘ordinary luggage.’Isn’t this exciting’Imagine, a trunk with 20 mill in cash and another one loaded with gold just waiting for me at the airport. But wait’what’s this’no phone number’It goes on to say I’m supposed to reply in an e-mail and one of her ‘loyalist personages’will be in contact with me. I’ll have to think about this one.

My last one to review is from a Mr. Faso Kouma of the International Bank of Africa. This very prestigious letter is from a branch bank of the IBA in the country of Burkina Faso. Now, I had no idea where the country of Burkina Faso was located, so I checked on the Internet. I found out it’s the old country formally known as Upper Volta. Not much help there. I then find that it’s a small land locked country slap dab in the middle of Africa. It strikes me odd that the person writing to me, Mr. Faso has the same name as the country. Must just be a coincidence. I’m sure the International Bank of Africa (IBA) wouldn’t allow any hanky panky, would you’ Anyway, Mr. Faso has 7.2 million lying over there in a dormant account, which belonged to some poor person who died in a plane crash. Imagine my luck, all I have to do to get 30% of this cash is to send them a document saying I am a relative of the dearly departed dead person. It doesn’t specify what the name of my relative needs to be, so I suppose that’s not very important. Then they do mention that I also need to include something called the routing and account numbers from my check account. Their letter explains they need this information so they will know where to send the total amount of the money. They will then come back to me at some later date in the future to collect their 70%. This is supposed to be very ‘top secret’. They give out their phone number as well. The country code is 226. No fool I, so I decide this time I’ll look up the country code on the Internet just to see if this really is the correct area code for the country of Burkina Faso.

Oh, no!!…When I type in country code 226 into a search engine, a web site comes up for the FBI warning me that there is a scam going around and all of this is a lie. They even have an exact copy of the letter I received posted on their web page. I am shocked. I am depressed. There goes my retirement plans out the window.

I wonder if I could take these letters to the bank and use them as collateral for a loan’You don’t think they’ve heard about any of this do you’