Reaching Out: How One Cartoonist is Helping the Deposed Arab Leaders

I received this email earlier today.

From: Ms. Maryam Darvish <>
Sent: Thu, Mar 24, 2011 11:54 am
Subject: Official Request

We are consulting with you on behalf of President Hosni Mubarak who just stepped down few days ago as Egyptian Leader.

President Hosni Mubarak is in daring need of a sincere partner in a lucrative investment window.

At present, our client has an urgent need for assistance to relocate from Egypt and invest into the any lucrative economy the amount of Ninety Eight Million United States Dollars

(US$98,000,000.00). This fund is part of his personal fund since his 30 years reign as Egyptian leader.

The need for an urgent relocation of this fund from Egypt is necessitated by his sudden pressured hand over power to the Egyptian Military which is not a democratic institution. The fears that his assets may be frozen is sheering him in the face and hence for his decision to urgently move this fund.

It is in view of this therefore that I write to solicit your assistance and participation to move this fund abroad. All necessary arrangements have been put in place for a successful transporting of this fund abroad. You will be well briefed if you confirm your willingness and interest in this project.

We are willing and ready to negotiate your percentage accruable to you in regards to your participation in the successful relocation and investment of this fund.

You will be properly briefed on my receipt of your reply confirming your interest to participate and what will be required of you as concerns the successful execution of this project will also be communicated to you.

I wait your immediate response to this proposal.

Your Faithful,

Ms. Maryam Darvish

Assistant Consultant Officer

Afritrade International Inc.



Naturally, I responded.



Sent: Thu, Mar 24, 2011 3:17 pm
Subject: Re: Official Request

Dear Ms. Darvish,

It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve chosen me.  As a nationally syndicated cartoonist, I get a lot of requests to handle fund transfers from your great continent.

First, let me just say how sorry I am to hear what’s happened to Hosni.  When I heard of how he was treated, I sent him an FTD “Get Well Soon” bouquet.  Of course, I know he’s been deposed and is not ill, but that’s the best I could do with FTD’s limited selection.

And believe me, I know what you’re talking about when you speak of the Egyptian military pressuring you.  Whenever I go to the Starbucks here in Santa Rosa after 12 p.m., they tell me they don’t brew decaf, and pressure me to either choose a caffeinated drink or a decaf Americano.

Let me also say that I share your frustration with having $98,000,000 frozen in various accounts by the banking establishment.  I, for one, am always forced to pay a $4.00 fee whenever I use a non-Wells Fargo ATM.

Speaking of money, I suppose we should get the awkward matter of my payment out of the way.

As you no doubt already know, the newspaper industry in America is thriving, and as a result, money is no longer the incentive it once was for me.  (Quick aside — I sometimes use hundred dollar bills to light my domestic servant’s hair on fire.)

That said, I will handle this entire transaction for $95,000,000.

Now I realize that $95,000,000 represents 97% percent of the money.  But consider this.

For that amount, I will not only handle this transaction, but I will also send Hosni one (1) signed Rat and Pig sketch.  I can’t personalize it (my time’s limited), but I will try to remember to draw Rat with both of his ears.

If that’s not enough, I will also agree to friend Hosni on Facebook.  With ONE CONDITION:  That Hosni does not abuse the privilege by sending me too many of those chat IMs.  I can’t even log on to Facebook without dozens of pre-teen girls telling me “Hi!!!!” following by smiling emoticons, and I don’t need that from a former Egyptian president.

That aside, I’m certain this can all be worked out.

Give my best to everyone at Afritrade International.  May their difficulties with the American banking system soon be over.


Stephan Pastis

35 thoughts on “Reaching Out: How One Cartoonist is Helping the Deposed Arab Leaders

  1. Are you going to share ALL that money with your fans? I know that is your intent……it’s the thought that counts, I believe Rat said.

  2. Anything over $92,000,000 is just being greedy. I wouldn’t Facebook-friend him though. Chat requests or no, it seems like he’d expect me to respond regularly to his posts.

  3. *ahem* I notice you remembered to mention the pre-teen girls who send you messages with smiley emotes in them, but neglected to mention me. I’m deeply, deeply injured.

    Also, I think you should treat your domestic servants better. The average health care plan does not cover “hair loss because of money catching on fire.” Your servant might end up turning on you, and I can’t imagine you enjoying having pennies covered in lighter fluid being thrown at you.

    On another note, why do you drink decaf coffee in the first place? I’m pretty sure it was in one of the ten commandments or something that decaf coffee is a sin.

  4. You are hilarious. I don’t know who these spammers think they’re fooling. Is anyone falling for these stunts these days? Anyway, I think your fee is reasonable, especially considering your personalized sketch. 🙂

  5. Maybe your old age strip should have said if you have email address. I really didn’t know people still had those.

  6. God bless you Mr. Pastis. On related subject, I understand that there is a lovely Peet’s Coffee in Santa Rosa you might try, as well as a Flying Goat (sense a theme for you there). 😉

  7. There’s one thing in that e-mail that alarms me:
    “At present, our client has an urgent need for assistance to relocate from Egypt and invest into the ANY LUCRATIVE ECONOMY the amount of Ninety Eight Million United States Dollars.” (Emphasis mine.)

    This worries me because it appears that someone is providing a template of how to write a scam e-mail message (fortunately, this would-be scammer was too dense to realize that “any lucrative economy” was supposed to be replaced with the name of a lucrative economy). Do you think the template writers get a cut of the minuscule amounts of money the scammers get? (I’m thinking maybe once in a while someone’s grandfather, new to the Internet, might possibly fall for the scam and provide his bank info.) If so, how do I get a job writing these templates? Mine would be a lot better than that one.

    That’s what worries me.

  8. No discussion of responding to scammers would be complete without a pointer to, a place where folks gather to discuss baiting these guys. The goal is to convince a scammer that you will fork over the money only if he or she sends you a picture “to prove you’re really who you say you are”. The results: a hysterical series of photos of these would-be con artists in the most humiliating poses you can imagine ( Some have even gotten them to act out videos, like this Nigerian-accented version of Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch ( A very lucky few have even convinced the scammers to send THEM money. The game is too rich for my blood, but I sure enjoy reading about the daring efforts of others.

  9. I would love to respond to some of those spam too. Particularly the ones for v*agra. (Please note: I’m a woman.)

    On a side note, I see that all smart people use wells fargo. But four dollars? Is that like a CA scam or something?

  10. I am laughing so hard I am going to throw up (insert 40 exclamation points here)

    (and 100 smiling faces here)

  11. “The fears that his assets may be frozen is sheering him in the face and hence for his decision to urgently move this fund.” Is this like sheep sheering, cutting off his beard? Or is this some sort of arcane ritual for out of work dictators?

  12. Man, what ever you do, don’t friend him! If you friend him then next thing you know Al Khalifa will want to be your friend, then Ahmadinejad. Then you know that will lead to Gaddafi wanting to be your friend. All he ever does now is just tweet about all of the noise from the jets screaming over head, it’s really annoying to hear a dictator whine like a toddler all of the time.

  13. This is just so funny.

    Apparently, you have a bunch of time on your hands. Did you ever think of writing a book ala Dave Barry? A couple of more vacations, a few more trips to the deli, another basketball season and you’d be cookin’.

  14. Yes, replying to scammers is funny.
    It is also dangerous.
    Remember, these people are criminals. Often they are from countries where the police don’t care, or even involved in the crimes.
    They may seem inept, but it would not take much for them to find out where you live.
    Do you really want to make harden criminals angry with you?
    The safest, smartest thing to do with these emails is to ignore them.

  15. Absolutely Hilarious Stephen!
    I bet Hosni will be your new best bud 😉

    @Lynne … I think you missed the POINT as Rat would gladly tell you.

  16. Seriosly though, imagine if that were legit? Now hopefully ( I use hopefully in the loosest sense) we are all smart enough to know it isn’t, and I commend you on your sarcastic reply.

  17. Hmmm….somehow I posted a reply that didn’t show up. Sorry if it shows up twice.
    Anyway, RikkuX2 I guess I did miss the point. What I read was a bunch of people who think it is funny to reply to these scam emails.
    What I’m trying to say is that these people who send the scam emails are CRIMINALS. They probably don’t have a lot in the way of scruples, and might not think twice about retaliation if you ticked them off enough.
    I’m trying to warn people to think twice about engaging them.
    Then again, if you are willing to get criminals mad at you, take your chances. Just be informed.

  18. No, you’re not the only one responding. I often do to, but I tend to play along to see how the story goes, and then I publish all the hilarious stuff in my blogg.

    However, not being a world famous cartoonist, I can’t add your punches to it.

  19. Hey Lynne, You did know that Stephen was a lawyer, right?
    Since there is not much difference between lawyers and criminals, this is nothing but a conversation between 2 very shady people. Frankly it’s the spammer that I’m worried for. Criminals might rob you once and then leave you alone, but lawyers will rob you and then make you pay them for doing it.

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