The Blog

  • December 3, 2009
  • School for thieves

    I hate this time of the recession.  Everything is old and as picked over as the discount bins in an after Christmas sale.  It’s like T.S. Elliot’s Wasteland, everything seems dead and brown and we’re waiting for the first shoots of spring.  The worst of the Wasteland symptoms are the tired and all too fake “You’ve struck it rich” emails we all get and I am so tired of their lack of originality.

    One of the absolutely essential characteristics of a successful scam operation must be realism or the ability to convince your mark that what you offer is the real deal.  Your offer must be sufficient to make your mark suspend disbelief.  If you can’t do that you have the equivalent of a B- or C-grade movie.

    You could earn a Ph.D. in the literature of email scams with a little diligence and an email address.  There must be only about three or four basic plot lines to these incipient tragedies.

    First you have the poor widow from some West African nation only spoken of in re-runs of The West Wing appealing for help getting a large sum of money out of the country.  This was a brilliant scheme until it was way over used because it appealed to the email recipient’s basic greed.  When you realized you were the victim of a scam what were your going to do?  Call the police and say you were the victim of a crime while you were participating in what you took to be an illegal activity?

    Variants on this scheme replace the hapless widow with a hapless bureaucrat who is trying to embezzle millions of units of a currency last seen on a Parker Brothers game board.

    Then there are the more up scale frauds that start by informing you that you’ve won a considerable amount of money for doing nothing but maybe having a lucky email address.  For some reason, many of these frauds involve a national lottery and frequently that lottery is in the Netherlands.  Really, how transparent?  These criminals all have one thing in common and it’s a pot shop in Amsterdam.

    I won’t get into the Russian bride scam or any of the other scams that have been replicated like rabbits on spring break.  Here’s my point guys (and you know who you are): You might be invisible on the Internet but you are still playing in the big leagues.  Have a little respect for the intelligence of your marks.  Think up something new for the post recession and try using a spell checker.


    Published: 14 years ago

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