Hey pal! Bills got you down and you need some extra cash? Your wife spent your paycheck on cosmetics and forgot to pay the rent and you’re about to be evicted? The dog ran off with one of your slippers and hasn’t come back? Is that what’s troubling you bunky? Well have I got a deal for you! Just send me your social security number and the account numbers of all your bank accounts and I will make sure you have no more money problems.
Does this sound ridiculous? It should. But chances are someone was about to do it until they read this paragraph. The common axiom is that “It takes all kinds” to make up the world. Other common axioms include “There’s a sucker born every minute” and “a fool and his money are soon parted.”
Once was a time when the flim-flam man was a traveling gypsy with potions galore in small vials in a worn leather case that offered the cures for whatever ails you from baldness to gout to bursitis. These con men would score some victims, then skedaddle when people got wise to their hustle. Today, they don’t appear in the town square, they pop up in your email, or on your Facebook wall.
Some are quite nefarious and have bankrupted the gullible souls who fell for the scam. These usually come in the form of an official looking letter from Nigeria claiming they need help disposing of funds from an account by routing the funds through the victims’ account offering to let the victim keep a good portion of the money. The victim gives the scammer their routing and account numbers and is shocked to find in short order that their life savings have vanished.
The more innocuous are the ones saying that if you forward an email to everyone in your address book, Microsoft or Nokia or google or some such firm will give you a free computer or money. These are all hoaxes, and many people even realize they are fake and follow the instructions anyway. The more annoying are the hokey sob stories that claim good fortune will befall you if you forward the sob story to at least 5 friends. If you fail to do so, bad luck will come instead.
There are all kinds of hoaxes on Facebook. The latest claims that if you join a fan page, that a “dislike” button will appear on your wall. This won’t happen. If there was a dislike button, it would already be on your wall. No user has to join a group or type a code or any such thing to get Facebook functions to appear. Other scams are the ones that say “click this link, you won’t believe it!” You won’t believe that you fell for it either, when they hijack your profile and start sending your friends the same link.
There is no shortage of people looking to take advantage of the good natured and gullible. A sad fact is that many don’t even do it for profit. They do it just to do it. They seem to enjoy putting one over on the next guy. Just because they can. In this day of Identity Theft, these scams can cause serious damage to people and families, but sometimes they just want to be mean.
The axiom to keep in mind for all these scams and hoaxes is “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” “Err on the side of caution” and “Don’t take any wooden nickels” are good examples too.