Irina Echarry

Which way to riches. Photo: Caridad

“We’re talking about $500,000, so any sacrifice is small,” said my uncle’s friend as he involved his family in an odyssey of hope.

The Toyota Corporation (through an Internet website) had selected them, among many others with the name Leonel, to be the winners of this large sum of money.

Out of the blue the news arrived in his mailbox.  The company was requesting his bank account number for the deposit, but since he didn’t have one he turned to my uncle.  They immediately sent him a form (in Chinese) for transferring funds.  Leonel then began waiting for the money – for a long time.

Following the rules of the game, the transfer went into a tax account and until $1,200 dollars were paid, the money would not be sent into my uncle’s account.

Leonel’s family believed that in the end this would solve all their problems.  They made plans and had a special, positive euphoria.  Some people warned them of a swindle, since every day thousands of people in different parts of the world are cheated in some manner or another at the hands of unscrupulous individuals or corporations.

Despite this, the family came up with the necessary money and tried to pay.  However, they weren’t able to.  It seems the Western Union office in Old Havana told them that one cannot send hard currency from Cuba abroad.  Checking into this, a bank employee confirmed that the law prohibits transferring money out of the country.

Consequently, Leonel’s hope and that of his family faded.

We’re talking about a case of fraud, but that made me think: What would happen if a relative of the Leonel’s who lives abroad urgently needed some money?

It would be necessary to turn to the generosity of some people or to others (less generous but indeed concerned about their finances) who get paid from transporting funds.  It would be necessary to trust that person not to keep the cash.  And these days, it’s difficult to trust.


Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

2 thoughts on “Hope Has the Color of Dollars

  • There is a well earned degree in your words my dear. as it is so aparent that even the cons are now entering into cuba via the web do not mistake the facts. one of 1 in 100.000.000 million claims are ever real. i know i get these emails telling me i have won millions in scammed money that was made by these cons of the net even the letters they send look so real and the phone numers are always in places like africa,china,france and even here in canada these people live off the rule do onto others before they do on to you the government of cuba should be thanked because theu just saved your uncles friend alot of money and a very bad taste in his mouth called being sucked in!
    but on the other hand they need to realize that people do need money in an emergency and need to rethink the idea more closely allowing money to friends and family expecially in emergency cases

  • Speaking of greeks bearing gifts…. welcome to the wonders of the capitalist Internet. I must win the lottery every single day, like so many others — on top of all the business opportunities I’m being constantly offered by email. Hell — I’m probably worth at least USD$1.000.000.000.000.000.000 by now…

    When hordes of former east-europeans swarmed the shores of North America during the “Fall of Communism”, they were scammed every which way by unscrupulous types of every sort — a number of which episodes I personally witnessed.

    As the wise saying goes: caveat emptor. And for that matter: what’s a grecian urn? (about 100 drachmas a day at this point, probably…)

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