A  few weeks ago my partner Rob received a letter  from China which began;

I am Harvey Mbu, A Private Investment Manager, I am getting in touch with you regarding the estate of William CONOLLY,  an investment placed under my management over 10 years ago, I would respectfully request that you keep the contents of this mail confidential.

In 1997, William came to me and had a series of talks. He informed us that he had a financial portfolio of 17.5  Million  United States Dollars and he wanted us to manage these funds for him.

The funds were invested. In mid 2002 he instructed that the principal (US$17.5 million) be liquidated and transferred as cash to China where he had to make an urgent investment requiring cash.

Now according to Mr Mbu,  word came in 2008 that  the funds had never been claimed by William and when he investigated  he discovered that his client had been killed in a hiking accident in China!   Apparently  William Conolly died intestate. ‘People Finders’ were employed  but poor  William had no next of  kin and as  Rob shares his family name  he  will be made  sole beneficiary.

Mr Mbu proposed that he would  continue  to handle all the administration of  the estate  in return for half the funds… representing a fee of  around US$ 8.75 million!  He justified this by saying he had worked hard for William and was still owed his percentage for services rendered:

I am a family man, with a wife and children, I send you this mail not without a measure of fear as I don’t know how you would accept my proposal, but I know within me they “nothing ventured is noting gained” and that success and riches never comes easy or on a platter of gold.

The weird thing is that  Rob’s distant ancestor  was also  William Conolly, Speaker of the  Irish House of Commons. He  was born in 1662, the son of a Donegal innkeeper.  William   became a solicitor, then a barrister before entering parliament. He made a fortune  following the Glorious Revolution, when the Crown confiscated  the estates  of  supporters of King James II.  600,000 Irish acres were forfeited and sold  at low cost  to help pay for the war. William  was the largest individual buyer and  amassed huge  estates in ten Irish counties.  His annual income was estimated at £25,000.  Jonathan Swift once said that Speaker Conolly would need 240 horses to transport  his half yearly rents  from Dublin to Castletown, the 100 room  Palladian mansion he built at Celbridge.

Although the house required an extensive staff, the servants’  wages  created  only a tiny dent   in  Speaker William’s income. For example the butler was paid £13 per annum  and the kitchen maid  a minute  £3.

We always wondered where the family money  went.  Obviously our long lost cousin William ended up with it!

I drafted the following email in response to Mr Mbus’ letter as a little test of his sincerity :

Dear Mr Mbu

 Thank you for your most interesting letter.  Before we proceed any further, I wonder whether you could tell me the exact circumstances of poor William’s death, and the location of his last resting place?  We would  very much like to make a pilgrimage to his grave as a mark of respect. We  may even  arrange to  have his body returned to Ireland, which was  surely his spiritual home.

 Unfortunately the sceptical  Rob forbids me to send the email! So there the matter …and all that lovely lolly, rests.

  1. I hate to say this, Pauline, but I’m with Rob 100%. You, we, are out there with websites, blogs, FB, telling whoever wants to read about us, our life story. That’s fine, good, because we’re writers and want to get our name known. Any way, if we didn’t want exposure, it’s very easy to find people’s ancestors. Births and Deaths records are available to all. Emails like this do the rounds regularly and innocent people pay out fortunes. Some lose everything paying people like ‘Mr Mbu’ until the funds are ‘cleared’ which they never are. Mbu’s hook is good. “I am a family man … … riches never comes easy or on a platter of gold.” That is not a phrase a businessman would use, surely. And, of course, he’ll continue to handle all the administration of the estate in return for half the funds. But that amount of investment will take long time to sort out, months if not years, and all the time his children will have to be fed. I was told one that, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Bubble… POP!

    • Pauline

      Don’t worry Maddie, I should have made it clear that I was only joking, and didn’t take the letter seriously. Still, I would have enjoyed stringing him along a little! xx

  2. Ha ha ha 😉

    My grandmother told me a story….. She never really knew her grandfather, he left her grandmother with gawd knows how many kids to bring up on her own. It’s rumoured that they were never actually married, but, anyway.

    When my grandmother was a young girl, so we’re talking 1920’s, a man arrived at the house, all suited and booted, very official looking. At the time (and in those days) she wasn’t privy to the conversation that went on between her parents and the man with the briefcase. But afterwards she was told by her elder sister that their grandfather had died, in America.

    Apparently he’d left a will, but my grandmothers mother dismissed the man, almost throwing him out of the house, saying she wasn’t interested in anything her father had left her!

    I was like OH MY GOD!!!!! I could have been rich and living in America!!!!!! (got a bit carried away thinking he might have been an oil baron or something lol).

    I’m still in shock to this day at how different all our lives could have been if my great grandmother hadn’t been so stubborn 😉


  3. Pauline

    Oh no Vikki, think of all those Hershey Kisses and root beers you may have missed out on! Not to mention roller skates and pogo sticks and the mansion in California or somewhere.

    My Grandfather owned a lot of property in the back-blocks of Tasmania and died intestate in 1947. For various reasons the estate languished with the Public Trustee until about ten years ago when it was finally settled and divided between his only surviving child (my aunt) and twenty something grandchildren. After all the costs I think we got about $20,000 each. However, it was very moving to receive a little inheritance from a grandfather who died before I was born.

  4. Long story, I’ll cut it short. My grandfather was approached by a firm of London solicitors in the late 1920s early 30s. He was the 7th son of the black sheep of the family, who had been sent to America and had recently died. Anyway, grandpa was the heir to a title and large estate in Wales. Lawyers investigated but his birth certificate had mysteriously disappeared from Somerset House and in Wales, where he was born, the page in Church Christening book had been ripped out. However, the old midwife that delivered him was still alive and confirmed that my grandfather was indeed who he said he was. £25 would have paid for their time and provided replacement documentation to prove ut. On a grooms wage, and with seven children, he didn’t have the money. The land and title went to Chancellery. Hey ho! Just call me, your Ladyship. True story though.

  5. Pauline

    Oh Lady Madalyn, I see a book in this !!! It’s fantastic stuff. You must write about it.

  6. It never crossed my mind to write a book about it. But clever you. You’re right. My cousin has done a lot of reserach on it, and it’s true. I’ll let you know x

  7. Pauline

    Oh, I can’t wait…it has all the elements of a great mystery; torn out pages, missing documents!! My word, you are going to be busy, what with Titanic etc.xx

  8. We received a e-mail this weekend from the “Federal Bureau of Investigation” (I did not realize the FBI worked on the weekend) informing us that there was money waiting in the Central Bank of Nigeria in our name!
    When we all claim these surprising windfalls we can meet up! Maybe even have TV crews there and a new reality show on how we manage all of this wealth!

    • Ha ha. good to see the FBI are earning their money Diane.
      I’ll probably be living in Castletown by the time we meet up, having bought back Rob’s ancestral home!

      I thought Mr Mbu was very creative re cousin William’s hiking accident in China. I wonder whether he tripped over a giant panda, or an escaped terracotta warrior?

  9. Wow, Pauline and Maddie, they are both brilliant stories 🙂


  10. I love the message you wanted to send back. That would have made him run probably.

    I had an e-mail a couple of weeks ago from the first lady of Syria! She had some kind of proposal for me that I had to e-mail her back to find out about – no doubt something to do with money. And a Mr. Surji, import manager from some company who knows where (probably nowhere), needs large quantities of my product. Not sure what that product might be as I’m not selling anything. I have won lotteries that I have never purchased tickets for, and seem to have bank accounts all around the world that either cannot be accessed, have been suspended or need confirmation of my banking info. It’s amazing what these people come up with to try to get your money. I’m not buying into any of them.

    But there are legitimate heir finder companies. My mother was contacted years ago by such a company in England. The difference was they didn’t ask us for any money and took their profit out of the existing inheritance. We got the money with no difficulty. It was about $4,000.00 for my mother (it was my father’s relative but he had already died), and the same for his sister and 2 brothers. I believe they sent us a check and did not ask for banking info. But you have to be so very careful these days now that it’s so easy to contact multiples of people via e-mail. There will always be one that will fall for it.

  11. Wow Diane, you must have been born under a lucky star! Are you a billionaire? I’m going to touch you for luck when we meet re that TV show on managing wealth because 8 million (the amount left after Mr Mbu’s fees) really isn’t a great deal these days, especially when running an estate like Castletown!

    • 🙂 If I could make the smiley face a lot bigger, I would do so. Yes, I must be one of the wealthiest people in the world. Too bad the accounts are all inaccessible or I would share some of it with you!

      • Pauline

        That’s very kind of you Diane. I know your wealth is all locked up, but it’s safe there…you won’t be tempted to spend it all on fripperies and frivolities!

  12. And the list goes on Diane. It’s funny. Or it would be if so many less savvy people hadn’t had their lives ruined by these crooks.

    • It’s true, Madalyn, and I find it hard to understand such desperation (or perhaps greed in some cases) that would cause people to believe these crooks. Surely in this day and age we should be well aware that if we didn’t buy a ticket we cannot win and if we do not have knowledge about someone’s existence then we will not be the recipient of their ‘great fortunes’. There has been so much publicity even before the online scams about people going door to door trying to rip off the elderly and naive that everyone should be alert to these things.

      • Pauline

        I’m afraid some people are gullible no matter what, for various reasons and it can have dreadful consequences. Maybe I shouldn’t have joked about Mr Mbu, but it was the strange coincidence with Rob’s ancestor that amused me so much.

  13. It just got even better! I received the following e-mail this morning: “Your e-mail address has won a lump sum payout of £800, 000, 00 GBP, for claims contact. Mr Douglas Eric,” followed by an e-mail address. I’m even richer than I thought. But, come to think of it, how can an e-mail address get a bank account? And how can it spend the money? 🙂

  14. Pauline

    Oh Diane Midas, don’t worry about such silly litte details…your’e becoming as bad as my Rob.

    I’m going to send out a press release about the death of multi-millionaire William Conolly in China, possibly due to having collided heavily with a giant panda.

  15. What an amazing coincidence! I like the story of your husband’s forebear – could make a novel out of it – but I think he’s right re Mr Mbu – best left!!!

    • Personally Ann, I think Mr Mbu should take up creative writing. Not nearly as lucrative as financial spamming though!

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