On May 11th 2006, I was taken hostage. This is another long story. My captors took my purse and backpackfrom me by physical force. Out of the backpack $8000 in American Express Travelers' Checks were stolen. From my purse $600 in cash was stolen.
I was taken to ECOBANK in the center of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. My attempts to get away failed. I was taken into the office of a woman, Mariam, who was the manager. One of my captors, Rose, was extremely friendly with Mariam, as was Rose, also with another tall man in ECOBANK. Mariam was angry because I failed to provide her with the "slips" which came with the travelers' checks. I lied and stated they were at home. Mariam spoke only French. Rose translated everything. I was given some blank white paper and was told to write on the paper all the numbers to the travelers' checks. I was to list the quantity in each pack of checks, and in the last column, the total amount in eack pack. Mariam left the room. She left me alone with Rose. I felt for certian Mariam had to know Rose, because no bank manager would leave two strangers alone in her office.
I made every effort NOT to cooperate. It was obvious Rose and Mariam were collaborators. I attempted to transpose the numbers. Rose beat me on my head and neck. After three attempts, Rose was satisfied. She refused my suggestion to do it herself. ECOBANK wished to hold my passport. I refused, but went with Mariam while someone made a copy of my passport. Rose was told to return at 3:30 PM. Rose, who already had torn my blouse in one attempt to run, held tight to my arm, while she pulled me out of the bank and to her car accross the street. In all this, my watch was stolen from my wrist.
I was taken to Rose's house, where an elaborate play enfolded. Three man came in with large wooden box...large enough for my body. I was able to get the keys...which I still have today. Time passed and Rose was told to return to ECOBANK. Rose was told the money was not yet ready. She had to wait until 4:00 PM. It was not that long before the tall man came to tell rose all was ready.
We were taken to a room in the back of the bank, but had to wait until desks and chairs were moved. The room was crowded and not normally, by the apparent disorder, used for normal customers of the bank. I was told by Rose to sit at the readied desk, A young man came to do his duty. It seemd to me he was just doing what he had been told. My American Express Travers' Checks were on the desk, each pack was attached to a paper. I was told to sign. At first I went very slowly. Rose told me not to try anything similar to what I had tried in Mariam's office. Then Rose got angry because I was writing too slowly. I asked her if she wished for me to make any mistakes. That comment by me shut her up. I was buying time. When we came to the end of the task, the young man received the money from the tall man, the money, which had been in the back of the room. He counted the money. he used a calculator to show Rose the exchange rate was correct, as the funds were exchanged into CFA's the money of Burkina Faso.
What I did was hope beyond all hope the bank was not crooked, as I had suspected. The bank should give the money to me, the owner of the traveler's checks. My plan was to run out into the main part of the bank and yell for the police. I knew all the people in this busy bank would not allow this to happen. That I was certain. The money was not given to me, but to Rose, who grabbed me again with her iron hands, She pulled me out of the bank. If I had yelled at theat time, I know Rose would have run out of the bank with my money. My trip was, and would be more of a disaster. I did not speak French. I also knew if I tried to attack Rose, I sttod a good chance of finding myself in the Ouagadougou jail.
Much happened after this, but when I finally reached someone in the American Embassy, it was Monday morning. I had no way to contact the world. Oh, I had brought my cell phone with me. Before leaving I had gone to my call phone company's office to asceratin that my phone would operate in Burkina Faso. I was assured that it would. As soon as I reached Paris, I had "NO NETWORK." There was nothing to do about that. I have already written a report about the IRIS HOTEL, who also was complicit in thus plot.
The American Embassy was wonderful. They could have done nothing more and stayed within the laws of the United States. I was assisted in making a report to the Ouagadougou police. More importantly, they also confronted the bank. The DIRECTOR of ECOBANK came to the embassy with the three players from the bank complicit in the plot. The director tried to be a politician. He began by stating the young man sitting across the table from me, had given me the money, which I placed in a money belt I had around my waist. I nearly burst out at that time, but remained composed. I pointed out to the director I only wore a passport pouch around my neck and wore no money pouch around my waist. More importantly, I pointed out the stack of bills was nearly a foot high and NEVER would have fit in a waist pouch nor in my neck pouch. The DIRECTOR of ECOBANK, then, took a different approach. He said the reason the money was given to Rose, was money is ALWAYS given to the translator. I pointed out to this dignified man, the day before I went to a competitor bank with a translator, to cash a small amount of travelers' checks. On that occasion the man gave me the money and did not give my money to my translator. The DIRECTOR did not have much to say after that. I had one more thing to say: I told the director he should come to the United States to run for our Congress. It was not meant to be a compliment. He took my statement as a compliment . He said he considers my suggestion an honor or something similar.
The consulate was totally knowing now I had been ripped off. They have stood solidly behind me. Thus far American Express has denied my claim and made every effort to avoid me. Calls and E-mail have thus far gone unanswered. I was told to fax the stuff to them for which they asked. I complied, but I was told it was never received, although I have a confirmation of receipt. I sent 41 pages. I will be writing a report on them also, as well as a report on the cell phone company, Cingular Wireless.
What was all this about, some reader may wish to know. From all the events (and I have not written all) I am reasonably certain their intent was to hold my money hostage. They ultimtely wished for me to sign some bank papers. I refused to sign any such papers. If I refused to do what they wished, the longer I might stay alive. What they wish for me do to was illegal and against my country which I love dearly. On Friday night I was poisoned, after I saw a trunk filled with bundled up stacks of $100 bills. They stole my cameras, on which were pictures of the culprits. They stole a digital recorder on which I had voice recordings of them speaking. I thought someone would translate later what they were saying to learn the ultimate intent for certain. Rose stole some money from the trunk, which she had me cash at a blackmarket exchanger/electronics store. She wished to see if the money passed through the man's machine. It did. Something was said about North Korea. Perhaps this money was not real, but it was an excellent imitation. Now I am ruined for ever. My family hates me. At first, I felt a sense of empowerment; however, the reality has now set in. I am still getting calls from them...I know it is them, for never have I received such calls. I received anb E-mail to send chills down my spine. I had the license plate nbumber from Rose's car. I thought that would help find these people. NO! It takes more than three weeks to trace a license plate in Ouagadougou. On top of that no one has an address in Ouagadougou. Everyone uses PO Box numbers. No one can be tracked. The police are investigating; however, I am not hopeful.