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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Suckers

P.T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute." Well at least, he's credited as saying it. But is it true?

Today, as I was standing in the kitchen washing some dishes when my sister Katie comes up to me and asks me what a grant is. A fair question. She didn't know if a loan was the same as a grant. I look over and see she is holding a blue postcard.

"Well first off," I say, "that's a scam."

"No, it's not!" Katie says laughing. She's not stupid and she knows what I say is true but to a single mother, the offer of free anything is tempting.

"What do they want to give you?" I ask her.

"Well they say they want to give me a $25,000 grant...." she says, looking at it closely.

"It's a scam," I say again.

"How do you know?" asks Katie.

"It's pretty obvious," says I.

"I'm going to call them," she says laughing.

"Hang up as soon as they ask for money," I say and turn back to my dishes. A few seconds later she walks over to me.

"Yup, they wanted me to buy a book on how to get grants for $59.99!" she says still laughing some more.

"Told you," I say.

"Why do they do that?" she says. Meaning, why do the scammers scam.

"Because they know stupid people will send them money," I say and we both have a good laugh.

My sister is not stupid. She may not be a genius but she is far from stupid. Yet, Katie is a sucker. And the scammers seen to know this. Why she gets every scam known to man in the mail is beyond me. A few weeks ago she gets a letter telling her to send $1 to every person on the list and she will get a dollar and so on and so forth. The most obvious of pyramid schemes. Yet despite the fact that it is so obviously a scam, she comes to me asking if it is true.

She asks in a way that is only half serious. Incredulous is the word. Her brain is telling her that it's bumpcus but her heart is telling her that this might be her big payday. She wants to buy Maddie the things she sees in the rich person catalogs.

Unfortunately this is what makes a sucker a sucker. Suckers come in all shapes and sizes and in all tax brackets. Their brains are working at full capacity but their hearts win out each time. Now some suckers are just stupid. Don't get me wrong. Some people fall again and again because they lack the intelligence to see a scam. But most suckers are average to smart.

Take the elderly for instance. Telemarketers make the most of a smart but lonely older person. Not all the elderly, my maternal grandfather is far to miserly to ever be a sucker. My paternal grandmother could quite easily be a sucker though. But I digress.

According to Snopes: A 1997 newspaper article states: "We have confirmed losses just in the United States of over $100 million in the last 15 months," said Special Agent James Caldwell, of the Secret Service financial crimes division. "And that's just the ones we know of. We figure a lot of people don't report them."

Like most people I would have thought, morons, and moved on. That was until I saw a report on these Nigerian scams on 20/20. Some of these people included doctors and politicians! Which is when I came up with my theory of the sucker. A average to smart individual who still has the innocence to think that people are not out to do them harm.

Suckers will only fall for the same scam once as opposed to the dumbass who will fall for it numerous times and almost actively look for the opportunity to be scammed again. While it's easy to think of a sucker, like Katie, as just another dumbass, remember that suckers are just big-hearted innocents without a lot of common sense.

Remember to get those drops in to win some credits! And with that, I'm out until tomorrow. =D

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