An ugly job, but it’s a living

It’s a Scammer World

Perusing my email this a.m., I found myself once again faced with dire warnings that my credit card and bank accounts may have been compromised. In order to make it all better I should just sign on to my account to verify my identity, and look, there in the email – for my convenience – is a link to the appropriate spot.

I forwarded the emails to the appropriate security departments at the credit firms and banks. As I wrote the final email I added a little twisted humor – in hopes that it will brighten someone’s day:

Attached is yet another lame phishing attempt. No, I did not click on the link or reply, but I am forwarding it in hopes that you can triangulate the URL to get a geographic fix on where to send the appropriate response. You guys do have HellFire missiles don’t you? Happy Hunting!

Phishing is a little different than a lot of scams because it doesn’t count on the victim’s greed as much as their ignorance. 90+% of scams depend on the target’s greed being so powerful that it blinds the fool victim to the unbelievable premise that most scams are built on. Greedy people only see the potential for personal profit and benefit and forget what their Dads taught them: There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Oh, I won the Spanish Lottery – and you’re sending me a check? Hmmmm, I’ve never been to Spain, never heard of the Spanish Lottery, and have never bought a lottery ticket in my life. But somehow, praise the gods, I have been identified as the winner – and for a mere $10,000 fee I can get that fat check for $10 Million. Pay me Baby! Now, who do I make the check out to?

The scams that prey upon the weaknesses of the elderly, incompetent and uneducated are despicable. But I’ve never been able to find much sympathy for the victims who were sunk by their own greed.

Of all the different scams and cons that prey on the greedy, I especially like those that add the twist that something the scammer is selling is stolen property – and he’s willing to make a special deal for this incredible valuable whatever – just don’t look too close. Like the guys who approached me one day in the parking lot of the local bigbox home repair center.

Hey, sir. My buddy and I work for a audio shop delivering stereos and speakers, and the guys at the warehouse screwed up and loaded a double order on our truck. We’re looking to make a little money by selling the excess, are you interested in a great deal?

I wasn’t in a hurry to get home to saw, hammer and paint, and this guy looked like he might be fun. I decided to investigate this possible criminal activity further and see if I could make him piss his pants in the process.

Wow, that sounds like a deal. But wait, if you sell stuff from the back of your employer’s truck, doesn’t that make it illegal or something? You’re telling me the stuff fell off a truck, right? I mean, it is “hot”, you know, stolen merchandise, technically speaking?

Technically my buddy and I could get in trouble, but you’re protected because we can give you a receipt. You have to move quickly though, because we don’t want to attract attention, and I’m sure that you don’t want to answer some nosy cop’s questions anymore than we do. I mean we can’t take the time to open the boxes and let you paw through the merchandise. Okay? Just park over there by our truck.

He refused to wet himself, and thus deprived me of some of my fun. But the look in his eyes, and the way he stoped breathing for a second after seeing my badge, that I think was worth the price of admission.

No, wait dude…

No, no, no, don’t explain – let me guess. It’s not really stolen shit. You, and buddy Bozo the Clown over there, went to some Chinatown wholesaler and bought some really cheesy crap for nearly nothing. And now you’re out running this scam on anybody that will fall for it.

Yes sir.

You know, if you run very quickly over to Bozo, and you two and your ratty ass truck disappear from my sight within one minute, then you guys might stay free to scam yet another day.

Yes sir, thank you–bye!

You have to find humor in your work or else it becomes a drudge.

When I first worked as a detective, it was in an area where a very affluent neighborhood was near one that was very poor. Many of the affluent thought they were smarter than everyone else – which meant they were often taken advantage of by people who learned their smarts on the cruel streets of Some City. And the poor area? Well, crime was rampant there, to the degree that we often joked that Some City PD should issue criminal record numbers to inhabitants at birth – in order to save processing time later. The juxtaposed groups made for weird encounters that often came to our official attention. Some of them produced funny telephone conversations with complainants.

Alright sir, let me make sure I have these facts straight. You were ripped off buying a television from some guy you met while washing your Mercedes at a self-serve car wash. And you feel you were victimized because what you bought was inside a box for a new 32″ color television, but when you got home and opened it you discovered there was only an old black and white 19″ that doesn’t work. And you paid the guy $200, is that correct, sir?

Okay. Well, yes sir, I think you are correct – you were ripped off. In fact the guy made you his bitch as the saying goes in that neighborhood. Now, before I write the report I do need some more information. Why didn’t you look inside the box before you paid this guy, and weren’t you a little suspicious of someone trying to sell you a $600 item for a third of the price?

I see – he may have suggested that it was such a good deal because the television was stolen. That explains why you didn’t look the gift horse in the mouth. It was your lucky day after all, your gain being some other poor bastard’s loss, and I can understand why the two of you didn’t want to prolong the transaction and possibly attract the attention of the police.

Why’s that? Simple man, you were acting as a fence, buying stolen goods from a criminal. That’s theft in itself, we arrest people all day long for that. It’s called receiving stolen property. The crooks don’t steal televisions to watch them. They want money to buy booze, dope and to fold up and stuff down g-strings at the Mad Monkey Club. They depend on people like you who are willing to buy stolen property at a discount in order to commit their crime. That’s why it’s against the law.

Hell no, it doesn’t matter that the property wasn’t actually stolen, only that you bought it believing it was stolen. Which reminds me, could I get your name and address again? It’s for my, uh, report.

Hello? Sir? Helloooo? Hmmm, he hung up. I guess he decided he didn’t want to report that crime after all.

The way I saw that situation was that taking a report from Mr. Mercedes was only going to appease his warped sense of victimization. Why clog up a system already bogged down in unsolved crimes by adding a report from a victim who was actually a wannabe crook who got outsmarted by a better crook?

It’s not street justice – just a case of recognizing that as much justice as could be found has already been dealt out by someone else’s hand. The law is the handmaiden of justice, but sometimes justice finds her own way, and if I get a giggle or two while observing her work, where’s the harm?


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