News just in – I have won $25,000 in an SMS competition!! That’s serious moolah in SA: R200,000 no less. (Well, actually very slightly less, given that we’re running at $1 = R7.91 this morning, but let’s round it up and be happy.) I don’t actually remember entering the competition in question, but that is of limited interest to me or to anyone else given that I have now won it.

You have been drawn at 9:23 and won the check No. 509578!
Call 00239981103 to know the amount and withdraw it.

I called the number, which is based in the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe – a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea; a place I have never visited, never mind entered an sms competition in – and the news was good: $25,000 good, according to the wonderfully cordial if rather heavily accented gentleman called Phillipe on the other end of the line.

And now all I need to do is to verify my bank details by sending them a measly $100 and they will pop the $25,000 plus my $100 into my account by return. Apparently, they have been on the receiving end of fraudulent transactions and that’s why this step is necessary. As I said to Phillipe, what is this world coming to when people try to trick each other in this way? Phillipe was momentarily quiet, presumably as he considered the misery that such individuals may cause to their unwitting victims.
It was a bonding moment, I feel, that he too felt my anguish at the evil that men do.

Anyway, I got his bank details and I contacted my bank, asking them to help arrange the $100 transfer to Phillipe. And that’s where things started to go wrong. My bank refused, saying that they were not going to allow me to spend my money on a fishing trip. I got angry – this is my money and where the hell did they get the idea about me going fishing, anyway?
Sure, São Tomé and Príncipe has some wonderful aquatic life and is, in fact, famed for its fantastic seafood, but I have no desire to actually go there in order to partake in a pastime which, in all honesty, leaves me rather cold. My brother would be there like a shot, but then he didn’t win the competition, did he?

I asked to speak with the manager, but the message was just the same. A point-blank refusal. He wouldn’t even call Phillipe and explain his reasoning. So I have written to the head office to complain. Idiots. 
Meanwhile, I have withdrawn R920, which I have now converted into US dollars and I am posting it to Phillipe. I have also photocopied my credit card and sent that along too – so now he has my bank details and the $100. I phoned him and I told him – sometimes a little trust in this world is all that’s required.
He seemed overjoyed – he couldn’t stop laughing.

And I will also be overjoyed when I get my $25,100 in a week or two. Bring on the good times!