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New Business, Risky Business

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Chicago promotions agency Robinson & Maites is used to receiving requests for proposals, but not requests for accomplices.
Inside an envelope with a Lagos, Nigeria, postmark that the agency recently received was a letter from a man purporting to be "a member of the Federal Government of Nigeria Contract Award and Monitoring Committee in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation."
Here was the deal proposed: An NNPC contract was supposedly over-invoiced to the tune of $21 million and the letter writer needed a safe foreign bank account in which to stash the ill-gotten gains. Maites' agency was to get 30 percent, the Nigerians 60 percent and 10 percent gets lost covering expenses-simple and ethics-free.
All agency president Alan Maites (shown here) had to do was send back signed and notarized letterhead stationery and his bank account number and address. What could be easier?
An amused Maites said his reaction was, "Why us?" before he alerted postal and government authorities to the scam.