An open letter to Mr. Lee Chong

>> Tuesday, February 21, 2012


From: ATM Office (
Sent: Sun 2/19/12 9:21 PM


I want to inform you that your payment verification and confirmations is "OK".However, it is our pleasure to inform you that your ATM Card Number; 4048000473315386 has been approved and upgraded in your favour.

Meanwhile, your Secret Pin Number will be available as soon as you confirm to us the receipt of your ATM CARD. The ATM Card Value is $1.2 Million USD Only. You are advised that a maximum withdrawal value of US$500 is permitted daily. Here are the parcel registration numbers (008672) this was the registration numbers placed on the parcel take note of it.

I want to inform you that the agent responsible for the dispatching of the ATM card to you will leave Malaysia to get to your country as soon as the delivery fee of $120 has been received here in this office notice it's undermost you pay for this. Also the card will be packaged as a parcel including the documents that will back you up as the real owner of the said money.

Please kindly confirm to us the receipt of this email.

Best regards,
Mr Lee Chong

Dear Mr. Chong,

Hi. Boy, was I excited when I received your e-mail, I tell you what. 1.2 million dollars, I thought, wow, that is a lot of money! I was so excited, I was ready to check out the price of a monocle, tuxedo and tophat before typing up a resignation letter to my employer, when my eyes, looking back over your missive, hit upon this line:

You are advised that a maximum withdrawal value of US$500 is permitted daily.

Now, I'll admit, five hundred bucks is a lot of pocket change. But then I re-read your e-mail again:

The ATM Card Value is $1.2 Million USD Only.

And then I read that all together:

The ATM Card Value is $1.2 Million USD Only. You are advised that a maximum withdrawal value of US$500 is permitted daily.

And then I did this:

1,200,000 ÷ 500

And I got:


And then I did this:

2,400 ÷ 365.25

And I got:


...which is how many years it would take me to withdraw $1,200,000 from an ATM in $500.00 increments. And that isn't even dealing with usage or withdrawal fees. Or taxes, for that matter. So, that's, what? Something like, if I'm doing this right, six years, six months, twenty-one days, and I guess the hours don't matter? Again, that's assuming (just to keep things simple) that I don't report the money as income and my bank gives me unlimited withdrawals, either of which (taxes or fees) would certainly speed up the amount of time it took to get the money you're offering me out of the bank.

I realize, of course, that $500.00 a day is pretty good walking-around money. And I'm not Charlie Sheen or anything, so it's not like I'd burn through it and my mucous membranes, schnnorrrk, just like that. But that's really part of the problem, see? I'm sure what I'd want to do with 1.2 million is to try and sensibly invest the bulk of that, and it's just really hard to do that in $500.00 increments, or so I imagine.

And if I did want to blow it all? There's only so many XBoxes one can own, right? So I was curious and looked at yachts, because it seems like having a yacht would be kind of fun, and the first website I get to, the cheapest yacht I see is the Mistral and they're asking for $995,000.00 and that's the reduced rate. It turns out that these days, your ATM card would only buy me a percentage of a yacht, maybe around 20% of one if the average price is around five-and-a-half million. I'm no sailor, I'll admit, and would need to defer to more seasoned hands, but I'm mostly sure that twenty percent of a boat isn't seaworthy, even if you could get the present owners to slice off a chunk for you (and do these modern composites, etc., they use in hulls these days even sheer that cleanly). Plus we aren't even factoring the berthing costs, fuel, crew salaries or anything else.

But, assuming I was able to work out some sort of deal for the Mistral, I'm afraid it would take me around five years and three months to pay the boat off in $500.00/day installments.

I'm sorry if I sound ungrateful over your swell offer, Mr. Chong, but I think I'll have to take a pass. Sure, it's free money and all, but it seems to me that it's just more trouble than it's worth. What's the point of having dough like that if you can't even spend it unwisely without putting yourself out? I figure, maybe you can send your offer to some desperate drug addict, or maybe to Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign if you really want to throw it away, and I'm sure they'll find some kind of use for it. Me, I'm afraid I just have to turn you down. But good luck, and I hope your Malaysian agent has a nice flight or however he's traveling if and when you get a taker.

R. Eric VanNewkirk
Standing On The Shoulders Of Giant Midgets


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