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Ex-Nigerian Banker In Legal, Financial No-Man's Land
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LAGOS, Nigeria - For years, Larry Gana was the manager of Bills and Exchange for Nigeria's Zenith International Bank. Due to political unrest, however, his position was terminated, placing his vast fortune in foreign funds just out of his reach. "As a Nigerian citizen, I am forbidden by law to initiate financial transactions with a foreign country," he explained, "And so I have tried to contact a sympathetic foreigner by email to assist me. But I am not finding anyone who has a willingness to assist me."

Gana is not alone. Many former Nigerian businessmen and women, politicians, military leaders, and their various family members find themselves similarly locked in a legal limbo, millions of dollars squirreled away, and yet unreachable. It is estimated that over seventeen trillion dollars of Nigerian origin are tied up in various banks around the globe. "I just don't understand why no one will help me," said Mary Adamsa, former Union Bank of Nigeria manager, "Do they want a larger commission in the transaction? I already offer twenty percent to anyone willing to assist. No one has even made a counter-offer."

While millions of people daily receive requests for assistance from Gana, Adamsa, and others, very few, if any, express any interest in the offer. "It looks like a scam to me," stated Arthur Bargo, "It just doesn't make any sense. I guess it comes down to the fact that I just don't believe their story."

"He's right, it's a scam," agreed Dr. Philippe Jorion, international finance expert, "These people don't even exist. They are simply criminals trying to get valid credit card numbers, checking account numbers, and other information to facilitate identity theft. One point that should serve as an obvious red flag is that the entire country of Nigeria is only worth about three trillion dollars, far less than the seventeen trillion claimed in the emails."

"With respect to Dr. Jorion," responded Gana, "I do exist. And as soon as I can lure some suckers -- apologies, English is not my own tongue -- convince some individuals to assist me, I will happily share my great wealth."

"The universal axiom applies," replied Dr. Jorion, "'Let the buyer beware'."
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