(HOST)Commentator Willem Lange enjoys the convenience and services of the Internet, but has discovered there are some shady characters out there.
(LANGE) I received this email recently:
“Dear Sir: My client is interested in purchasing your car. So my client said he will be issuing a CERTIFIED CHECK of the sum of $12,000 to you, while you deduct the cost of your [car] which is $7000 and wire the remaining balance to my Personal Assistant through Western Union and he would be the one to make arrange-
ments with the shipping company which would be used for shipping arrangements. The excess funds would be wired to my Personal Assistant who would settle the shippers that would
come for pickup. So i would want you to send me your full contact information..”
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? It is. By the time you discover his check is bogus, your check is warming a crook’s pocket in another hemisphere. You still have the car, but its
price has just gone way up.
Used to be, con artists had to work face-to-face, the way Paul Newman and Robert Redford do in one of my favorite movies,
The Sting. Now, through the magic of electronics we can find mates, buy all sorts of things, and con credulous marks with-
out ever seeing our correspondent or even knowing his physical location.
To those of us raised before television and automobile directional signals, the Internet is a rich resource. I no longer have to pester the reference librarian, five minutes before closing time, for a brief biography of Clarence Birdseye, or the name of the town in which Leo Tolstoy died.
The bad news is the stream of garbage and sales promotions that pours into our computers from the demimonde. Trusting as we do that advertising must be at least partly factual, we’re unprepared for the unregulated offers that pop up on our screens. We’re already suckers for Ponzi schemes and chain letters promising millions. We find the concept of something for nothing irresistible. So we’re targets – and wealthy ones, at that.
My “In” box collects over one hundred pitches a day, for knockoffs of Rolex watches, medications, stock tips, and true love. Many are identical, but come from different addresses. Today I got thirteen offers of pharmaceuticals with the same text. “Dr. Nelson Benton have the solution for you” is the first one. The rest are the same, but with different doctors: Humberto Reeves, Roscoe Early, Octavio Rodriguez. I’d love to meet the guy dreaming up these names.
Truth be told, almost none of these reaches my “In” box. They’re intercepted by a filter that sets them aside.
But the cardinal rule remains: Never open an enclosure from somebody you don’t know. It’s probably not a good idea to respond to the invitation from “Horny Housewife,” who promises undreamed-of ecstasy. But I must admit an occasional temptation to see what I might get if I ordered meds from Dr. Yolande Salazar out there in cyberland.
This is Willem Lange up in Etna, New Hampshire, and I gotta get back to work.
Willem Lange is a contractor, writer, and storyteller who lives in Etna, New Hampshire.