December 12, 2005
Thoughts About Torrents of Tortuous Dishonesty
Like many folks in the media world, I start my day by reading
Cynthia's Cynopsis, often even before the coffee has finished
brewing [it's free, it's good and available at www.cynopsis.com.]
Like anyone today who has e-mail ' and
is there anyone left who doesn't? '
I receive a huge amount of digital information on a daily
basis ' everything from the Hollywood Reporter
to my CNN Breaking News Alerts. These form a conduit of useful
information I rely upon in my daily business. E-mail is the
electronic river of digital commerce.
However, with all this useful and desired information, I
also receive at least a dozen e-mails a day suggesting that
since I can't afford a REAL Rolex I might
want to indulge in a fake version, available from any one
of a number of websites.
There are regular appeals from the Ivory Coast to help an
ex-government minister or an ex-bank manager get their money
out of one place and into another [at hefty benefit to me]
if I will only provide them with my personal information and
details so they can make sure I am legitimate.
Yasser Arafat's widow has personally appealed
to me to help her get her money successfully out of Switzerland
and I also am receiving some hostile notes from a lady who
claims I agreed to help her move her Nigerian oil fortune
out of Lagos and into my account. How could I abandon her
in her hour of need?
The British lottery is in constant contact with me lately
to tell me about the fortune I have won in a random e-mail
lottery which I never entered but of which I could be the
beneficiary, if only I would give them my personal details,
including my social security number.
E-Bay is constantly letting me know my account is in jeopardy
of being shut down if I don't immediately
give them my details. I just forward them to Spoof@ebay.com,
which reassures me these e-mails don't come
from them and not to pay attention.
So immured am I by all of this, I actually let my Pay Pal
account lapse as I wasn't sure the e-mail
was really from Pay Pal. I have been contacted by the â€FBI'
who also wants from me information that if it were really
them, I am sure they already have.
I am not as plagued as I was a few weeks ago by folks who
want me to buy Viagra from the internet though I am getting
a fair number of offers for pain pills. Mercifully the torrent
of e-mails offering my creams, pills and device to help me
enlarge â€my member' have
become a trickle.
And the stock deals that fill my in-box and my fax machine!
I am sure I would be wealthy beyond my dreams if I had only
bought these penny stocks of companies of which I had never
heard of from companies of which I also had never heard.
The friendliness and familiarity of these folks amazes me
' I have no idea how they have managed to
become so chummy with me.
I have become adept at brushing off hundreds of opportunities
to be scammed on a weekly basis. Who are these people? How
did they get my e-mail address? It is part of the daily ritual
of contemporary life that we brush aside these intrusions.
I have invested in software to protect me; it is somewhat
Going through my e-mail box, I am reminded that Barnum once
said: a sucker is born every minute. Obviously these folks
think I'm one. That I don't
succumb is because I have some digital dexterity and have
learned how to spot the frauds [I hope].
However, here is a great opportunity for identity theft and
I worry those with less experience will fall victim to these
tramps, gypsies, thieves who wander the electronic trails
of our lives.
Shame on them! I hope their personal e-mail boxes burst with
bilious balderdash and that the local flimflam man filches
their personal information and gives them the kind of grief
they are giving us.