Thursday, July 5, 2012

Vis-à-vis Visa-me: An open letter to Australia

I warn you, this is long and ranty... Also, apologies if any immigration information is incorrect or out of date, but the website is more baffling than Lara Bingle's career.

Australia, we need to talk.

Well, to be more precise, I need to talk and you need to listen. To be even more accurate, I need to whinge and whine and whimper… which as a POM I have been told is my stereotypical right. You just need to sit there and pay attention to me- or at least do a half decent impression of someone who is paying attention to me. If you need inspiration, I suggest observing my Dad when Mum shows him paint charts and asks whether he prefers ‘Hint of Oatmeal’ or ‘Cream Suggestion’ for the hallway.

So here’s the thing, Australia- I like you and I thought you liked me… so I just don’t understand why you want to end it. Not like this. I mean, we’ve had fun, right? It’s been a pretty awesome two years, hasn’t it? So what am I doing wrong? Why do you want to shut me out like this? Is it because you need space? How, when you have a land mass of 7,741,220 km²?

Let’s recap our history together: After our holiday romance in December 2009-January 2010 I packed up my bags, got a visa and jumped on a plane, desperate to see you again and to get to know you better. It’s now been about 2 years and, quite frankly, I feel pretty settled and I’d very much like things to stay as they are… but herein lies the problem- apparently you don’t, because you’ve made it nigh-on impossible for me to get a visa.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As you know, I arrived initially on a Working Holiday Visa (Subclass417), primarily because it is the cheapest and, given our Commonwealth ties, the easiest for young Brits to get. All well and good, but I am a little perplexed as to why there are so many differences between the UK and Australian systems given that visas of this nature are generally administered on a reciprocal basis. You see, UK nationals are initially given just one year in Australia and only qualify for a second year if they complete 3 months of primary industry work and apply for another visa- complete with additional visa charge (another $280 making a total of $560, aka just under £370). During both these visas, a British working-holiday maker may only work for each employer for up to 6 months. On the other hand, Australians who are admitted under the UK ‘Youth Mobility Scheme'- and yes, I appreciate that places are limited and that there is a proof of financial security component (you have to demonstrate you have £1800 in ready cash)- pay a fee of £194 (under $300) which entitles them live and work in the UK for 24 months upfront with seemingly no comparable 6 month employment limitation.

Now, admittedly, neither the UK nor Australian systems allow you to apply for permanent residency/indefinite leave to remain after completing a working holiday visa and both come with an age restriction. Apologies if I’ve missed something here, but it seems to me that it is a lot easier to form a connection with an employer, gain meaningful experience and ultimately score yourself a sponsorship (see below) under the British system. Yes, I could have done a three month stint picking oranges or something, but why, when all it would do is cost me more money and get me another year with the same 6-month limitation? I get it- it’s called a ‘working holiday’, not a ‘working holiday that forms the basis of a more permanent move’, but I still feel that this doesn’t explain the difference in treatment.

Anyway, having made some great friends, formed even closer relationships with the family I have here and well and truly bonded with Sydney (aside from the odd flirtation with her grungy sister in Victoria), I realised that a year wasn’t enough. So, after figuring out what I wanted to do career-wise (we’ll come to that) and mindful of the aforementioned restrictions, after a brief sojourn to Europe, I came back to Sydney to undertake a Master’s in PR and Advertising at the University of New South Wales.

I shan’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say that, at a cost of about $25,000 (not including student visa and compulsory health insurance) this course has been far from what I expected. I can’t help but laugh when I remember how worried I was that I wouldn’t be given a place, and how delighted I was to hear that I’d been accepted. What followed was a year of stress, frustration and disappointment, primarily stemming from the fact that UNSW is happy to accept onto communications courses students who are manifestly unable to communicate. Irrespective of my disillusionment, I can honestly say I worked bloody hard- habitually doing more than my fair share when it came to group work and going the extra mile as regards my individual projects. Final results are to be released soon and I’m crossing my fingers that it has paid off.

And now we come to the crux of the matter: Given that my student visa runs out at the end of September, what does Lou do now?

I have family here, but as much as I adore them, they aren’t directly related enough for me to get any kind of immigration help from them. I must say, I can’t help but harbour an irrational jealously of Australians whose English ancestors were adventurous enough to jump on a boat and switch hemispheres. Bear in mind, I do not descend from a long line of risk-takers. In fact, my Mother caused a few ripples in the community when she decided to go to university in Southampton (a shocking 178km from her home in Birmingham); you can only imagine the veritable social tsunami that followed her subsequent moves to the Middle East and South East Asia.

Why not study more? Well, I considered this, but aside from the epically disappointing experience I’ve just had, frankly I can’t afford to… and there’s also the matter of 18-month graduate visas (subclass 485) being restricted to occupations on the Skilled Occupation List, so even if I did do another year’s study it wouldn’t get me anywhere… except more in debt. In fact, apparently completing a Master's at a supposedly prestigious degree is pretty meaningless- if only I wasn't a fluent English speaker, I could have just enrolled in one of those crappy night courses run by dodgy colleges in the city!  

Some might suggest that you aren’t that bothered by my plight and that your moves to lower the entry requirements for many university courses whilst setting a personal financial requirement of $18,610 per student indicate a desire to attract as many rich foreign students as possible, irrespective of their academic capability or suitability… I’m not saying I would, but some might.

And what of the Skilled Occupation List (SOL)? Well, obviously certain professions and skills are more in demand than others- and rightly so. Under the Aussie system, if you have highly desirable medical or engineering qualifications, of course you should be welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately, there is nothing even vaguely relevant to me on this list- unless I was to relapse and go crawling back to the law… Oh, if I only I was a qualified Cartographer, Lift Mechanic or Shipwright! Curse my secondary school careers advisor! Maybe they were just bitter because their job isn’t on the Skilled Occupation List either.

So what’s left? Well, you can be sponsored by other people- either an employer or a spouse/de-facto. We’ll return to that first category, but suffice to say, I have been single for almost 4 years and remain unattached, so getting a bloke to sponsor me isn’t really an option. “Why not just fake it?” people have said, but I’m afraid I’m too proud, stubborn and law-abiding to cheat the system… Although I know plenty of people who have (By way of an aside, Australia, you really need to get your act together on the whole gay marriage front… As a female, ginger, Welsh person with bizarre earlobes, I’m surprised Gillard is being so harsh to a minority group).

But I digress…

Naturally, there are plenty of bureaucratic hoops to jump through if you want to bring your non-Aussie partner here, just as there are in the UK and in most other countries. You have to prove you have been in a de facto relationship for the entire 12 months immediately prior to lodging your visa application, which means providing enough supporting documentation to sink a (citizen)ship. However, as regards the individual applicant, all they have to do is satisfy some basic character and health requirements- whether or not that person is intelligent, hardworking or willing and able to contribute to society is irrelevant. That being said, it is, I believe, a basic entitlement of every Australian to be with the person they love/bought online (joke), and of course the State must allow and enable this. Maybe I’m just bitter because I’ve been single for so long and am steadily turning into a Crazy Cat Lady… incidentally that position too is notably absent from the Skilled Occupation List.

Long story short, when all is said and done, my only option of staying here is by being sponsored by an employer (subclass 457 visa)… Which again is less than simple. I have a degree in Law and International Legal Studies from four years of study in the UK and Hong Kong. I have also lived in Cambodia, where I worked as a lawyer and a journalist. I speak passable German, some French and a few words of Khmer in addition to my fluent English and impeccable Bullshit. Then there’s the matter of my work in Australia and recently completed Master’s degree in PR and Advertising, adding more letters to the end of my name and experience to my CV.

However, apparently all of this is meaningless and the first question any prospective employers ask is almost always about my visa status. I have since discovered that sponsoring someone, especially as a big company, is really not that arduous from a time or financial point of view- if you’re already admitted as a sponsoring organisation it’s $450, excluding migration agent fees. Nevertheless, no one seems willing to take me on or for that matter even give credence to what I’ve done in the past, citing the necessity of ‘x years of agency experience’ and treating me like a 21-year old fresh graduate… No offence to 21-year old fresh graduates. I should add that my current employer was ready to sponsor me, but the business has fallen on hard times and will be closing at the end of the month. Sod’s law eh?

So, it’s something of a catch-22 situation:

I am seemingly unable to get a job without experience, but cannot get experience without a job… and I can’t get either of those things here without a visa, which it seems practically impossible for me to do. In short, I’m stuck between Uluru and a hard place… and that hard place is seeming more and more like the UK- a country I feel no connection to and have spent less than one year in since 2006.

Oh, and then there’s the increase to the minimum salary for employer sponsorship visas to $51,400*. Oh, except it's not, is it? Be honest Australia- given mandatory superannuation contributions, it's actually more like $56,000, isn't it? Just a thought, but isn’t this a bit arbitrary given the discrepancy between different industries? I mean, I know there are different rules relating to particularly desired skills and that, no matter the job, you have to pay the ‘market rate’… but what if an individual wants to enter an industry known for low salaries? What if a position in a certain field is generally paid at $45,000 and one of comparable skill and responsibility is generally paid at $50,000 in another? Forgive me if this is too semantical- but it seems that the current system is geared to helping those who are essentially experienced and well-paid, and not necessarily those who are fundamentally intelligent, skilled, talented or jam-packed with potential.

I mean, you can’t honestly be suggesting that instead of working my arse off for the last couple of years, getting experience, paying taxes and trying to achieve the best possible grades in my degree, I should have invested my energies into looking for an Australian man to entrap/have a fake marriage with? Or maybe I should have tried to cheat the system in other ways- by working more than the 20 hours allowed on my student visa (during term time), bribing a farmer to sign off on three months of regional agricultural work, offering to pay my own sponsorship fees or simply being rich enough to study for an infinite period of time? Believe me, I know people who fit into all of the above categories, all of whom seem to be in a much better position to stay than me.

Like I said, I just want to moan and complain a bit- I don’t expect you to do anything, because at the end of the day it’s my fault/bad luck that I don’t fit into any of the necessary visa categories, which are, after all, there for the good of the Australian nation. I guess I’m just frustrated because, the simple fact is I now call Australia home: My friends are here, my family are here and I feel this is where I belong.

Here are just some reasons why:

  • I’ve slurred my way through the Triple J Top 100 on Australia Day, dressed up like an idiot for ‘Christmas in July’ and pretended I know something about horseracing on Melbourne Cup Day. 
  • Time and time again I’ve complained about terrible mobile phone reception, the ridiculous cost of books and wondered why oh why oh why aren’t there any H&Ms?
  • Having watched three series, I get the obsession with Masterchef and I too am perplexed as to how Guy Sebastian still has a career and why they won’t take Kyle Sandilands off the radio. 
  • I now understand that whilst it is totally acceptable to drive for 8 or 10 hours to see your parents in another State, a night out in a different postcode (I mean you, people of Bondi) is a scary prospect. 
  • I am culturally aware enough to mock hipsters, bogans, coasties, private school types, Sydney suburb stereotypes and above all whinging POMS in an informed and occasionally amusing way. 
  • My affection for coffee has developed into passionate love at the expense of my relationship with tea, I see sushi as a staple part of my diet and I now use the term “SmallBar” (or “Smar”) as not just an indication of size, but a genre of establishment in its own right.
  • I am no longer perplexed by schooners, shocked by ‘Coon’ cheese or places with names like 'Woolloomooloo' and I’m afraid the marvel of plastic banknotes has well and truly worn off. I no longer affix a ‘th’, ‘st’ or ‘nd’ to the date, feel comfortable with the concept of shortening or colloquialising every word possible and I’ve even started saying ‘zucchini’ and ‘capsicum’ instead of courgette and pepper- I draw the line at ‘eggplant’ though- that’s just plain nonsensical. 
  • Lord help me, I’ve fallen victim to the habit of calling everywhere outside of Australia simply ‘overseas’ and have even been accused of elongating my vowels and going up at my sentences. 

Not bigging myself up or anything, but when you do the maths I’ve also given you a fair bit of dollar. If we add up all my spending- visas, taxes, rent, food, clothes, mobile phone, travel (especially as international students are ineligible for concession tickets on public transport- cheers for that), entertainment and uni fees, I reckon it’s a pretty sizeable amount…and that doesn’t even factor in all of the money I’ve spent supporting the drugs and gun industries. I’m kidding, I think both of those things are rubbish… Unless the drugs are prescription and the guns shoot water. Or chocolate. Or rainbows.

You want 'skills', yeah? I'll give you skills:

  • I’m not a bad person- really I’m not. I’m polite to bus drivers, converse with taxi drivers and, despite how generously hospitality staff are paid in Australia, I always tip. 
  • I hold open doors, offer my seat to older people and have perfected the art of laughing convincingly at crap jokes. 
  • I am pro-diversity and anti-discrimination, as evidenced by the ease at which I will drink both white and red wine. 
  • My family and friends mean everything to me and I relish the opportunities I have to show my love and appreciation by photoshopping things onto their faces and sharing my favourite LOLCAT pictures. 
  • As my alter-ego DJ Mediocre, I formed an important (yet underappreciated) part of the emerging underground Cambodian mash-up scene with my partner-in-crime MC Average. Unfortunately, Musical Dissident isn’t on the Skilled Occupation List. 
  • Though no longer in a position to do pro bono professional work, I give to charity (shopping at Vinnie’s counts, right?) and I’d love to give blood, but unfortunately as I lived in the UK for six months during 1980-1996, I am ineligible to do so. I promise as soon as you develop a test for vCJD, I’ll let you stick a needle in my arm faster than you can say ‘human pincushion’. 
  • I can say the alphabet backwards with no discernible mental exertion and create humorous portmanteaus faster than you can Google what the hell that word means. 
  • I can hold my breath for a respectable amount of time that would definitely enable me to escape the clutches of any bad guys if I was trapped in a pond or other watery setting… although there doesn’t seem much point improving this, as ‘Free Diver’ is also absent from the Skilled Occupation List. 
  • I can always come up with enough examples to make a decent bullet-point list. 

However, by way of full disclosure, I am also fully aware of my limitations and weaknesses, which include:
  • I am a self-diagnosed grammar Nazi. I have been known to visibly wince upon reading outstandingly odious misapplications of to//too/two and there/their/they’re. Sad but true- I derive a sick pleasure from correcting typos and when I learned how to use a semicolon properly I high-fived myself. 
  • As you may have noticed, as well as a propensity for written verbosity, I have a tendency to overuse ellipsis when I write, perhaps in a subconscious effort to lend an air of mystery and drama to my musings… 
  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but unfortunately the road to the gym is not. When it comes to exercise I have been known to procrastinate with more commitment than a mental asylum. 
  • I believe people who walk too slowly or eat too loudly warrant public castigation and, in particularly offensive instances, electroshock therapy. 
  • There is something weirdly shaped about my ear apertures that renders me unable to comfortably wear in-ear headphones, which either fit badly or pop out altogether. I therefore live in fear of ‘beat leakage’, i.e. of being one of those selfish people who subjects those around her to an irritating stream of ‘tst-tst-tst-tst-tst’. 
  • I have an irrational fear of visiting hairdressers. 
  • I cannot wink. 

So there you go Australia, that’s me in a rather large and wordy nutshell. I know I can’t do anything to change your mind and that it’s just the way things have to be… but I guess it just feels unfair and I’m having a hard time accepting it.

I suppose if worst comes to worst, I’ll just have to accept your decision, pack up and move on, because it’s beyond my control and, at the end of the day, it’s not me, it’s you.

Yours always, and especially if you loosen the immigration rules,


*Edit: New as of 1 July 2012

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Down and out Downunder: #2: I'd stop drinking coffee, but I'm no quitter

(It's unlike to me to stay quiet for a long while, so I thought it was about time I shared some more of my verbal diarrhoea with the intermaweb... Plus it will be an amusing distraction from the uni work I should probably be doing...)

To say I love coffee is something of an understatement- the smell, the taste, the fact that it makes even the most of depressing Monday mornings/most infuriating of idiotic people bearable... the list goes on. From the endless pots of strong, black, filtered goodness that kept me company (and awake) at 3am in the morning when I writing my dissertation or studying for finals to the espresso martinis that formed the basis of many a girly night out in Phnom Penh to the hilarity that ensued when my boss discovered his delicious brew was made from my Vietnamese weasel coffee has been a good friend over the years.

If you ever encounter me in a bad mood that has not been treated by my required dose, you would probably agree that I should continue my present prescription, should you retain all limbs and live to tell the tale.

The problem is, my coffee addiction has developed into something of a coffee snobbery. Once you get hooked, you can't help but compare and contrast your own experiences and other reviews. Who has the most flavoursome beans, whose are best ground, who makes the most finessed final beverage? Which cafe has the hottest baristas?

Oh you laugh, but when you have been single as long as I have, starting the day with a sweet little 'heart' crafted into the surface of your latte means a lot ok?!

Furthermore, not only would I now rather lick a freshly excreted weasel coffee bean than drink instant coffee, but my brain has been weirdly re-wired to think that it is absolutely fine to fork out more than $3.00 for a product comprised largely of water. Moreover, it is ok to do so a couple of times a day. Personally, I blame Australia- the coffee here is at least a million times better than in London and the places to drink it in are at least a billion times more appealing. Oh, I'm not including Gloria Jean's in this, I don't care if they severed links with the Mercy Ministries, I don't want to risk being brainwashed by my cappuccino.

Now, I would say I buy, on average, about 12 large coffees a week. This doesn't, of course, take into consideration when lovely friends buy my brew for me or those particularly horrible/heavy/hungover days when I either splash out on an additional cup or feel too bloody sick to leave the comfort of my house and trudge to a cafe. Anyway, by my reckoning, this equates to about $42 a week. Over the course of a year? That's $2,184. Multiply this over a decade (inflation ignored) I could have bought 10% of my own cafe franchise. Five decades? That's a whopping $109,200... Although let's remember that by the time I'm 75 coffee will probably be served to us by baristabots in the form of pills that cost 7000 Intergalactic Megawotsitdoodles each and sing to you as they slide down your newly transplanted giraffe oesophagus.

But I digress... Whatever way you look at it, that is a heckuva lot of money to spend on some ground up magic beans. Think about it- Star-BUCKS, COST-a... even cof-FEE- The clue is in the names, people!

Anyhoo, as I am now a student, unfortunately I am not in the possession of a heckuva lot of money and, but as an ex-fulltime law-whore wageslave, am also not willing to sacrifice some of the other important things in my life, like shoes and wine, for example. Thankfully, some bright spark came up with the idea of the 'coffee card'. My wallet may not be more stuffed with notes as a result, but it is now full to bursting with these nifty little money savers. Assuming I get one free coffee a week, this will result in an annual saving of $182, which in futuristic terms is an incredible 364,000 Intergalactic Megawotsitdoodles...

...Or as I prefer to look at it, a great pair of shoes and an extremely agreeable bottle of wine.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Roses are dead, violets are too, but heavily discounted treats await you :)

I stand corrected: maybe Valentine's Day isn't completely terrible...

1) The super-organised can get next year's pressie out of the way a whopping 11 1/2 months early;

2) The thrifty can load up on this ludicrous tat and repackage it for Easter, birthdays and Christmas, whilst saving an absolute bomb due to paying what these products are actually worth, as opposed to their initial, over-inflated retail price; and

3) The pessimistic can stock up on self-indulgent goodies to comfort eat next year. The money saved can be re-invested in extra strength tissues.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Re: Payment Notification #3

Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2011 16:51:21 +0800
Subject: RE: Payment Notification:
To: Lou Hayward




Motto: Eagle Eye Of The Law

The management of this honorable sector {EFCC} Economy and Financier Crime Commission validated which the content therein is fully understood.
This is to acknowledge the receipt of your email and to further inform you that we have arrested the IMPOSTER who tried to scam us of your overdue funds of 7.5 million dollars and to also inform you that we got your information’s you have provided in your last email to this office and I must tell you here that your fund will be transferred to you in no distance time if you adhere strictly to my instructions and directives and do exactly what I tell you to do.

Here i have filed up an application on your behalf and have sent it to the paying bank in your favor, So quickly contact the Bank and explain yourself to them, I Don't need anything else from you.

I will also want you to give the Bank a call as soon as you receive this mail for more detailed information’s below is the contact information of the paying bank.

Contact Person: Rev. Williams Hills 
Bank Name: Access Bank Of Nigeria Plc
Bank Email:
Contact phone Number: +234-70-6075-4037
I have also spoken with the manager of the Access Bank Of Nigeria Plc right now and he told me that they have received the application and that they will respond to you in less 5 hours from now and he has also accepted release the funds to you through online wire transfer sector. 
As soon as you hear from the  Bank to let me know for more directives. Always take note that the paying bank is the Access Bank Of Nigeria Plc and they are the bank that will contact you in respect to this application.

I shall await to hear from you as soon as you contacted the Bank kindly let me know.


Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri

EFCC Executive Chairman,
Chief Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri (AIG rtd.)


From:Lou Hayward
Sent:20 February 2011 09:51:32; virtualbanking&;

Hello Farida!

My goodness, you really are the gift that keeps on giving- a same-day reply?! I feel honoured that you have chosen to dedicate so much of your time and effort to my case and to make me a priority, given that you must have so much other pressing business to attend to. However, with respect to your email, although “the management of this honorable sector {EFCC} Economy and Financier Crime Commission validated which the content therein is fully understood”, I must admit that I am a little less clear as to what exactly is going on here… I also note that whilst you have answered a few of my queries, there are still many questions which remain unanswered… and, just quietly, both the signed photo and the link to your ebook are notable in their absence, but I'm sure that's just a little oversight on your part.

Am I to take it, Farida, that you have captured that conniving devil Curt?! Or has Gershon Shapiro cracked under your iron-like will and confessed all? Don’t leave me hanging here Farida- spill the beans! I’m sure that I’ll read something about it in the paper tomorrow and maybe catch a little segment on the morning news, but if you have a moment maybe you could give me the goss straight from the horse’s mouth. Not that you look like a horse- it's just a saying. 

As to the money… wow! I mean, I know I’m a bit scatterbrained sometimes- I’m constantly losing my phone or my wallet or my keys and I forget things all the time and that was that one awful day when I left the house and only realised I wasn’t wearing any underwear when I was sat on the Tube. I had to do a mad dash run around one of the bigger stations- I think it was Kings Cross- and you know those little concession stores are always really crappily stocked and overpriced. So yes, I know I’m prone to the odd blonde moment, but I seriously don’t know if even I would be able to ‘misplace’ 7.5 million dollars. I mean, just imagine how big your sofa would have to be in order for you to lose all that spare change down the back of it… 

I think if I am ever really rich (maybe if I have, for example, 7.5 million dollars in the bank) I will buy exactly such a sofa and when I sit atop it I will pretend that it is not the sofa that is huge, but me that is tiny. I will proclaim myself Queen of the Pixies and, if you like, you can come and sit next to me and pretend to be the Financial Advisor of the Elves. What fun we’ll have…
…There I go again- see, I told you I was a bit dippy. Now, I must be frank with you, Farida: In essence, I’m really not sure that this money is mine! Where, how and why would I have acquired 7.5 million dollars?! For that matter, what kind of dollars are we talking about? I mean, there are a lot of countries which use the dollar as their currency: check out this list to see what I mean. So, are these US dollars, Australian dollars, or Solomon Island dollars? I’d like to know so that I can make a bit more sense of my supposed riches. If you really were Financial Advisor to the Elves, I hope you’d moot a currency with a more original name- for example I have always been fond of the Vietnamese ‘dong’ and the Costa Rican ‘colon’.

I am pleased that my utter failure to provide you with a single personal detail has not hampered your progress and that you have ‘filed up an application’ on my behalf- apparently Nigerian banks are a lot more flexible than the institutions I have used in the past. Thank you for giving me Rev. Williams Hills’ contact details- does his name mean that he, like you, is a ‘plural person’ who refers to himself using the first-person, plural personal pronoun? This is good to know- ignorantly I thought that this was a practice confined to royalty and schizophrenics, but apparently it is fairly common, normal behaviour in Lagos. As a sidenote, how ironic that a man of God should come so close to sharing his name with a chain of high street betting shops.

Unfortunately, I have just this moment run out of phone credit and so will be unable to contact him by phone. Plus, I fear the time difference and potential disruptions to the line may make this a tricky form of communication for us. One small detail, Farida, I am, as you may have gathered, something of a nosy parker, and so I couldn’t help but do a quick google search on Rev. Hills… Farida, are you sure you’ve got this right? I couldn’t find any information on him at all, let alone any pages linking him to the Access Bank. As such, I have taken the liberty of cc-ing a couple of potentially relevant Access Bank email addresses to alert them of their oversight. I have not written to Rev Hills himself as I do not wish to cause him any embarrassment. As a matter of principle, I am certainly not going to provide any information regarding my own case until they remedy the situation and give him the respect and acknowledgement he deserves.

Farida, I hope you don’t think me presumptuous, but I am so impressed at the care and attention you have shown me, and the fact that you seem to have ensnared such a wicked criminal, that I wanted you to get some recognition for your hard work. Therefore, I have also cc-ed the general EFCC contact email address in the hope that your colleagues and superiors, if you have them, will learn of your dedication. Furthermore, if I don’t read about anything, I shall have no qualms about alerting the international press on your behalf.

Yours, validating which the content therein is fully understood.

PS I know it's a longshot, but I think I think my first choice would be for Kate Hudson to play me in our movie, she was brilliant in Almost Famous.

Re: Payment Notification #2

From:Office Efcc nigeria (
Sent:18 February 2011 05:03:03
To:Lou Hayward




Motto: Eagle Eye Of The Law   

The management of this honorable sector {EFCC} Economy and Financier Crime Commission validated which the content therein is fully understood.

After going through your mail, be inform that we have withdrawing all the dealing we have with MR. GERSHON SHAPIRO who was claiming to be your representative here in my office over your contract inheritance outstanding fund, Be inform that right now we have just arrested him which he is to face the consequences of whom most of them are presently under our custody and will face prosecution under section 35 A sub section 1-2-4 of the criminal code of Nigeria, pending on when we finish with our investigation and have your fund release to you as the said benefactor. 

Sir, farida Waziri (AIG rtd.)Executive Chairperson. international monitoring funds   (IMF) note that my duty is to make sure that all those impostors that has contacted you in the past is curt and face the prosecution of all the evil they have done to the fellow human.

With all due respect, note that we have received the requested information, and note that we are now in the process based on how your contract inheritance fund will be release to you via Internet Online Banking through our Bank under 24hours of the day.


It was resolved by the executive board meeting that was held officially at Abuja Federal Capital here in Nigeria on your behalf which the Senate President and the Vice President of Federal Republic of Nigeria attended. This meeting was held and jointly agreed by the both parties that participate that meeting that you will have to stop any communication you have with non-official or any bank institution as you can your fund is presently under my custody and is well secure for you, and in other to receive it you are to work according to my instruction to avoid fund division so that problem will not occur further when we will proceed with the effect of your fund.

Note that you are advice to forward to this office all listed below information so that we will start processing all necessary document and have your fund programmed in your name since you said that you didn't authorize any one to stand as your benefactor:
Your full name:

Once all this information are send to this office, it will enable use verify and expedite action immediately with the release of your fund to you as the Said Beneficiary.
We anticipate your Maximum Co-operation and Understanding to enable us serve you more better to lead to the success of this matter and have positives result for you.

Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri
EFCC Executive Chairman,
Chief Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri (AIG rtd.)

From:Lou Hayward
Sent:20 February 2011 07:26:55

Hello again Farida, how nice of you to reply so promptly. 

Thank you very much for the photo you included- as you are possibly the most famous person to have ever emailed me, I plan to print it out and put it on my wall, or maybe carry a small version in my wallet. I did once receive a marketing message purporting to be from Tony the Tiger (I don't know if they sell Kellogg's Frosties in Lagos, so by way of explanation he is an animated cereal mascot with an overtly positive disposition... I don't particularly like Frosties myself; apparently they're 'grrreat'), but after some consideration I came to the conclusion that this was in fact written by one of his agents. For one thing, tigers do not have fingers or opposable thumbs and so I fail to see how he could operate a keyboard. For another, he is, after all, a cartoon character. 

Maybe next time you could send me a signed photo? I do have one suggestion though- next time I think you should look directly at the camera. You have beautiful eyes, Farida, it's a shame to hide them and it makes you look downcast- almost as if you feel you are losing the fight against internet scammers. Just saying. 

Anyway, on to more serious business. I am relieved to hear you "have withdrawing all the dealing" with Mr Shapiro- well done for exposing him as a fraud. However, is it really necessary for him to face prosecution? I am embarrassed to say that, despite studying and working in law for a number of years, I have a woefully deficient knowledge of Nigerian criminal law. The snazzy little '419' banner at the end of your email proved most helpful though- I now know that this refers to an article of the Nigerian Criminal Code (part of Chapter 38: "Obtaining Property by false pretences; Cheating") dealing with fraud and, in particular, advance-fee fraud. Apparently, this is is a confidence trick in which a target is persuaded to advance sums of money in the hope of realizing a significantly larger gain. A particular type of this scam has even been titled the 'Nigerian Letter' (also called the 419 fraud, Nigerian scam, Nigerian bank scam, or Nigerian money offer). Shocking stuff, hey?

Oh dear, here I go getting off the point again... Anyway, so the lawyer in me couldn't help but look up the citation you so helpfully provided me to see just exactly what sort of cheat we've been dealing with here. Farida, I must say I am puzzled. Either my research skills have completely gone off the boil, or I think you may have given me the wrong information. Please don't take offence, but according to a seemingly up-to-date resource I found on the matter, the Nigerian Criminal Code does not have a section 35A! Sorry to nitpick, Farida, but I would appreciate your clarification on this.

Now, assuming we instead proceed on the basis of Article 38, Obtaining Property by false pretences; ‘Cheating’, I fear we may hit another procedural wall. Let me explain: according to Article 419, "any person who by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud, obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen, or induces any other person to deliver to any person anything capable of being stolen, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years".  My problem is this, dear Farida, Article 419 goes on to say that "the offender cannot be arrested without warrant unless found committing the offence" and as I explained in our previous communication, I have never met Mr Shapiro, and to my knowledge, no funds of any nature (be they PayPal or Post Office oriented- or as part of the 'contract inheritance fund' you mentioned of which I am also wholly unaware) have been obtained by him. On the other hand, if you did catch the scalliwag in the act, I'd love to hear the story of how you busted him. I imagine it to be a thrilling tale- maybe one day we could make it into a film. I don't know much about movie production, but I think we'd have to fit an explosion or two in somewhere to really sell it to a studio- do you think you could embellish the truth a little to incorporate this? Who would you like to play you in the movie, Farida? I'd like to see some big name stars in there, but as my recent viewing of 'The Tourist' has taught me, you need more than A-Listers to make a hit. Did you see it? If not don't bother, it's really not very good at all. 

Nevertheless, as I said, I am rather ignorant as to the laws of your country, so could you please explain further how you intend to proceed- perhaps you are planning to prosecute Mr Shapiro on the basis of an inchoate offence? If so, could you provide me with an up-to-date summary of the relevant Nigerian criminal procedural law. Maybe such a passage can be found in your book, "Advance Fee Fraud, National Security and the Law"? I have been unable to locate a copy where I am currently living, perhaps if our friendship continues to blossom you could send me a signed copy to go with the photo. Alternatively, is it available to download as an ebook? I have recently obtained an iphone and now, I am somewhat sad to say, as a total smartphone convert I am unwilling to undertake any activity which does not entail tapping or swiping a small touchscreen. Do you have an iphone, Farida? Or are you more of a Blackberry lady? That is not a racist comment, by the way. 
One other small point, Farida, (and please don't think me pedantic- I'm just thorough). I would be very interested to read more about your work for the "International Monitoring Funds", but have been unable to locate any website. Indeed, the only organisation I am aware of with the acronym IMF is the International Monetary Fund, with which it appears you have no affiliation. Moreover, a brief google search of 'Farida Waziri International Monetary Fund' only produces results leading to websites regarding- irony of ironies- scam emails, the very thing you are working so hard to tackle! 

I am, of course, appalled by the behaviour (attempted or otherwise) of Mr Shapiro, but I am also a humanist. Have you informed the embassy? Where is he currently being held? Is he at your headquarters on Awolowo Road? I looked up the location and it must be nice to have an office so close to the water- does Mr Shapiro have a nice view? However, I think you need to update your contact information, Farida, as according to the official EFCC website you are located at number 15A Awolowo Road and not number 15- perhaps you moved next door after that awful fire totally razed part of the building in May of last year? I do hope he has not been transferred to the nearby 'Ikoyi prison', as I've heard it's less than pleasant in there. I don't think I would be able to handle it at all. I once had to spend a couple of hours in Slough and that was enough to nearly break me; it’s even worse than watching The Tourist. Above all, has Mr Shapiro regaled you with any of his proposed performances for 'A Jewish Star'? 

The main reason I ask, Farida, is that I think we should instead be focusing on another, altogether more vile character. You say in your email that "all those impostors that has contacted you in the past is curt and face the prosecution of all the evil they have done to the fellow human". Well, I am very pleased to hear it, Farida. There are a number of things which I find irritating in the extreme- in no particular order, examples which spring to mind are people who insist on taking prams on public transport during commuter hour, people who walk too slowly when I am in a rush to get somewhere (exempting the old and infirm, obviously) and those who can see worth in the music of Justin Bieber. However, I would have to say that people who have done evil to the fellow human rank even higher on my list of irksome character traits. I have been contacted by a number of imposters in the past- the Tony the Tiger impersonator being just one-  and you are seriously telling me they are all aliases of some guy called Curt?! Farida, do you think that maybe this loathsome fellow has also attempted to use and abuse Mr Shapiro's identity? What are you doing to find him? I think for the movie we should turn him in to a shady Mexican, then offer the part to Danny Trejo. What do you think?

Apologies for yet another lengthy message, but I feel we need to get some loose ends tied up before proceeding further. As such, I am as yet unable to provide you with any of my personal information at this time until you answer the questions herein and provide me with more details in general. To be honest, Farida, when all is said and done, if we are talking about that errant £1.92, I would be more than happy for you to consider it a downpayment on the ebook.

Kindest positives result to you too.

P.S. As my name is not a Nigerian one, I feel I should inform you that I am in fact female. Thus, whilst I appreciate your politeness, the moniker 'Sir' is not really appropriate.