“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.