Return of the grifters


I now pine for the good, old days of the Internet when a transparently idiotic con artist would invent his persona in the form of a disenfranchised Nigerian prince, looking for a place to park his money in a safe country.

Just give him your bank account number and, hey presto; you, too, could be a winner. “We would be willing to pay upwards of 100 million Euros just to protect the balance of our estate from rebels and authorities,” I remember one entreaty promising some years ago. “Won’t you help us?”

Well, no, actually, whoever you are, located at Dupont and Dufferin Streets in Toronto’s Upper Annex. (Yeah, that’s right; scammers aren’t the only ones in possession of common location technology. Ping that, bro!).

But in the past few weeks, Internet and phone grifters seem to have gotten my various numbers and their deluge has been like a hurricane. It’s not that they’ve grown frontal lobes (they’re still incredibly stupid); it’s that they’re more persistent than ever before and. . .well, downright rude.

To wit: I’ve received three automated phone messages in the past week threatening me with “a lawsuits” if I don’t contact “the CRAs” and settle my substantial, “outstanding billings” to the “Governments of Canadas”. The only thing is: I don’t owe a dime to the “Governments of Canadas”.

Hey man, don’t you know you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar? I mean, seriously dude, reconcile your tenses. You do know to whom your talking. . .right?

Then, there’s this priceless bit of tripe, which appeared in my inbox just the other day: “Hello & Good day. . .I hope my email meets you well and expect it to come to you as a surprise as you do not know me personally. I am a private investor in Tokyo, Japan with a strong investment desire in search of viable business opportunities for a massive investment project which will also (sic) of immense benefit to you financially and otherwise.”

I can only swoon at the thought of “otherwise”. Free trips to the Sushi garden at the Tokyo airport, perchance?

My recent favourite, however, is from an address that I won’t bother to list. From these sun-starved folks located in a basement apartment (no doubt) in rural Idaho, I may find “peyment advice” in a “Secured PDF file assesible by only” little, old me.

Naturally, I’ll be following up right away.

According to a Washington Times report last month, “A 68-year-old Vermont widow who nearly gave $60,000 to a scammer is warning other potential victims to ditch them. Louise Brown turned to the Internet to find someone to talk to after the death of her husband. When the man she had been bonding with began begging her for money, she gave him $60,000 before her bank flagged her account and warned her of the con. AARP (American Association of Retired People) officials say Vermont has seen an explosion in the number of Internet scams. Greg Marchildon, the director of AARP in the state, says criminals build trust with their victims and try to get them into a heightened state of feeling. The Vermont attorney general’s office is pushing for legislation requiring online dating websites to notify users when they’ve communicated with known scammers.”

Methinks we in this dispirited, economically challenged neck of the woods might turn the tables.

Come one, come all to the Great New Brunswick real estate sell-off. Every house goes for $500,000 – a bargain at twice the price.

Sure, and we’ll mail you the keys once the cheque clears.

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