Friday, September 21, 2007

SCAM: Money for nothing


The lure of lucre can take the unsuspecting dude down dangerous paths.
Humans are a greedy lot. This seems as good a time as any to bring this up, given the number of SMS scams that people are falling prey to these days. Are we so desperate and gullible that we believe money comes free at the drop of a hat?
The Internet and cellular phone are quite possibly two of the greatest inventions of the past half-century, but every boon comes with its banes. Armed with a mobile phone and an Internet line, tricksters can reach across the globe, which they have, elevating the arts of persuasion and deception to new heights in the process.
My first experience of an attempted Internet scam was email from someone who claimed to be working clandestinely on behalf of a deposed or deceased dictator or emperor (I forget which) somewhere in Africa or the Middle East. If I helped him and his associates transfer aforementioned dictator’s illegal millions out of their country, I would make a few millions bucks in commission. I was disbelieving from the start, but I’ve heard of trusting fools fall for this.
Over the past decade, I have received a few dozen similar missives; I used to read them for amusement, but that’s wearing thin these days.
My take is that if you’re greedy enough to be lured by an offer to make millions off a “deposed” ruler, or whatever, via some illegal money transfer, you deserve what you get – nothing.
You are responsible for your actions – as the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. I’ve never believed in such a thing as a free lunch, much less being singled out from millions of Internet users for some golden opportunity of a lifetime.
I’ve read of people losing a few hundred thousand bucks after being tempted by offers via SMS or calls from con artistes working for syndicates – it seems we’re reading about these unfortunate victims just about every day!
Listen – just say “No” ? that’s my instinct, on the phone or when approached by anyone. The more you listen, the more you get sucked into a vortex of uncertainty and confusion, and then, at one point, your fundamentally-greedy self takes charge. That’s the point of no return and as is sure a way as any of burning your hard-earned money.
Sometimes, even respectable companies dangle the carrot of “free” money in front of you, just to keep you interested. I used to subscribe to a well-known magazine but stopped a couple of years ago. However, because my particulars are still inescapably trapped in their database, I get regular snail mail enticing me to join their contest and stand a chance to win pot-loads of cash.
I’m not saying this is a scam – indeed, the company is too well-known and respected to perpetrate anything close to a scam, and I don’t doubt a select few have take home some winnings.
It’s just that each time I get snail mail from this company, I’m made to believe I’m just two steps away from becoming a millionaire – all I need do is wait a few days, fill out forms, wait some more, buy something, wait some more, fill more forms, buy something else ? hey, wait, there’s a pattern here!
I obliged the first time, but my patience ran out the second time around; unfortunately, two or three years down the road and I’m still being subjected to such mail. Not that I respond, even if the mail continues to arrive with clockwork regularity. I just don’t have the time and patience to call these people to tell them to get me off their mailing list – who knows what they’ll try to sell me over the phone!
posted by paymedollar at


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