It was around 2001 when I got an email offering millions of dollars to help out someone who had been wronged. It was years before the frequency of receiving an email offering large sums of money was common. So this was new territory to me and I was intrigued. I was also a bit excited at the prospect of suddenly being a millionaire. I began thinking of the great yoga center I could open, or going to a retreat in a remote location for six months. And other less noble thoughts.
I responded to the letter sender with a positive willing attitude. They were most pleased with my response and we began an email exchange over the next couple of weeks. In each letter it brought me closer to the belief I was going to get the money. So I started doing research into off-shore accounts and the ways to not have to pay so much in taxes to be able to legally keep this once-in-a-lifetime gift.
Things went well for the next few weeks as we discussed plans for the final transfer. Then I got a phone call from the sender who was living in Nigeria. He and I spoke of honor, helping each other, families, and our kids. It was all very convincing and I began to trust this man. Of course, I wanted to trust him since he was going to give me a huge sum of money for helping him get a larger amount of money into an account for him and his family.
In the next stage of this endeavor, we arranged to meet in London where the exchange would take place. My job was to already have the account set up for his share. My share I was free to do whatever I wanted. I had all the plans fixed to create an off-shore corporation in the Caribbean and by paying a small amount yearly to an executor of the funds, it would be managed as a foreign corporation. I felt ready for a successful venture.
Just before making final plans to fix the exact day to meet in London, my generous benefactor said that because all his funds are currently unavailable, could he borrow some money for the flight to London and some other expenses. It all sounded reasonable. After all, we had spoken on the phone about our kids. We laughed and talked about life. I truly believed I was helping him out. Just one problem. I did not have the five thousand dollars he was asking for. I asked a friend if he would lend me the money. He agreed.
Then I stopped, breathed, and relaxed. I felt into the whole situation and although it made me sad, I decided to not take my friend’s money to give to my financial benefactor. I wrote him a short email that I was not going to send the money. I expected a reply with his asking again, or asking for less and reminding me of how much I would receive. He did not write. He did not call. I never heard from him again.
Some months later more and more people started getting these sorts of emails and it quickly became clear, it was a con. I thought about this and how I came to my decision. I had invested many hours of research. Even more in imagining what I could do with the money. And the sense of expansion, freedom, and joy was real. But then it was not. I wondered what truly stopped me. After some time meditating on this question I came to an answer that delighted me. What stopped me was my lack of greed. I am certain if I was a greedy person, I would have given him the money, and as we all know now, I would never have heard from him again. There would be no money gifted to me. And I would have been the victim of my own greed. Thankfully that did not happen.
I did learn an interesting lesson about myself and the power of seduction in any form. It was a great experience and one that has continued to serve me. I remember reading about a college professor who apparently was more greedy than I was, as he gave the money and got nothing. It takes more than intelligence to make the best decision. It takes a moral code that is embedded at a cellular level. It feels good to achieve something. And it feels better to share. Taking what is not ours does feel great for a short while, and then it is gone.