Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Predator and Prey: Kissing Cousins

People who have been in business for a while have almost certainly been exposed to fraudulent attempts to part them from their hard-earned money. Years ago, I used to get regular letters from human scum purporting to be the wife or child of some prematurely departed dignitary who had managed to accumulate millions of dollars of illicit funds. The money would invariably be stored somewhere where my help was necessary to gain access. All I had to do, to assure myself of a 10% to 15% cut of the money, was to help liberate the funds. Thousands, perhaps even millions of these letters would be sent out and someone always got sucked into the scam.

The first step might be that you would be required to send a small amount of money as a banking fee, or some other such nonsense, to start the wheels in motion. Once you were hooked, more money would be sought from you to deal with 'unforeseen complications.' By the time a person sucked into such a scam realized what had happened, he was out thousands of dollars and someone thousands of miles away was laughing at his folly.

No, I never got involved with anything like this. But many people did.

The same thing goes on today. It's easier, now, because with email everyone is potential prey. Perhaps you yourself have already been approached with one of these schemes.

How do you know when something is too good to be true? Very simple. Use the business maxim: "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is," as your guide, even before you consider whether the process might be illegal and land you in jail, or merely unethical and spoil your sleep.

Why do people fall for this sort of nonsense? Greed. Something for nothing. Gain without pain. Foolishness.

Why do people attempt to perpetrate these schemes? Greed. Something for nothing. Gain without pain. Foolishness.

What am I saying? I'm saying that the victim is not much different than the predator. Each wishes to make financial gain without actual work or real effort. Neither seems to realize that if they expended as much energy doing real work they might actually be further ahead.

There is a certain cynicism in anyone who thinks ill enough of his fellow man to attempt to defraud him. I believe that it is a reflection of the predator's own self-loathing and low self-esteem. The same cynicism exists in the victim. He or she has no compunction about doing something unethical, or about the potential of enjoying millions of dollars which were extracted by scoundrels from government coffers (and therefore taxpayers) of poor countries like Nigeria. Again, predator and prey are no different. Both are lacking in scruples and ethics.

Why do people keep up these scams? Because they can. Because they have willing accomplices in all the fools who want to get rich quick.

I am currently playing along with someone who is trying to suck me into a similar scam. In order for me to gain funds to invest in my Panamanian venture, all I have to do, they say, is pay to liberate the money from an account inconveniently located in a country across the Atlantic. The sooner I send the money, the less it will cost me because additional fees are accruing daily.

I'll play along while it amuses me, but as I am a somewhat impatient man, that won't be for long. In the meantime, at least I am having some fun while I wait to see what new nonsense will follow.


  1. I just had to talk my brother out of sending money to a 'chinese lawyer' who 'sounded african' who 'lived in england' that he spoke with after a 'rich widowed woman' contacted him...

    I couldn't even believe he could be serious. I emailed him a list of similar stories originating from around the globe.

    I wondered once why he was so street smart and law-evading and entrepreneurial and yet so easily taken in by scams like that.. my dad said it was because he had a criminal mind.

    I will watch with interest as you expose for us, this man's transatlantic scam.

  2. I get emails at work all the time, written in some phoney poor English, to send money so I can get rich. Wait a dad always told me,"There's no such thing as a free lunch." It was said as frequently in my childhood home as evening prayers. I was taught never to be a victim, or believe in anything but my own hard work.

    However my brother resembles yours, Penny.

  3. There are THREE (and ONLY three) things that legitimize the taking of money from another individual:
    1. GOODS you have provided in exchange for same.
    2. SERVICE you have provided in exchange for same.
    3. The other person LOVEs you and is honestly presenting you with a gift to show it (Friends and relatives).

    I find it hard to believe someone in a country where cannibalism, witchcraft and pedophilia are almost institutionalized parts of the culture, who knows nothing about me and probably cares less, "loves" me enough to give me millions from an old dead sultan, or whatever. Anyone with half a brain that can think logically instead of emotionally, knows such emails are scams.