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December 16, 2010

Grandma, there's a wolf at your door!

Grandma, there's a wolf at your door!

By Nancy Pickard

Feel like exercising your shudder muscles this morning?

 The other day, I received this message on Facebook:

 Hello, how are you doing? my name is Jon i am new here I read through your profile and you seem to be an interesting woman to me. I'm a God fearing man, loving, family oriented and i will never do anything to hurt a woman not even a fly and i hope it goes the same way with you, kindly get back to me at my private e-mail me here (email address) cause i check it more often than this site. Most importantly,age is nothing but numbers to me,what i care about is the sincere feeling that we both share.pls write me so we'll keep in touch.

 How’s that for creepy?  I don’t know about you, but I have always been attracted to men who promise they won’t hurt a fly.


 I actually don’t think he’s a sex creep, though.  I think this is probably what is known as a Grandma Scam.  Not a demographic for which I ever aimed, but here I am, nevertheless, and without even being an actual grandmother.

 There are several versions of the Grandma Scam, as you probably know.  I suspect this is one in which he would “court” his potential victim—me--over the internet and then hold out his virtual hand for the moola.  Since joining fb, I’ve had between five and ten "chat" messages from men who seem to be African and who dropped in to say “hi” out of the blue, but this is the only private message so far.

 I just block them and continue on my merry way.  No biggee. 

 But not every “grandma” is alert to these guys.

 I have friends whose grandma is thick in the snares of a Grandma Scam.  If you have an elderly female relative, you may want to warn her about this one, because it’s particularly diabolical and devastating to the lonely little flies who get snared in its webs.

 In the case of my friends, it all started with a call from a Jamaican man to their grandmother who lives alone and who had. . .had. . .a small apartment and matching income.  I don’t know what his original pretext for calling was, but he engaged her in chat, acted warm and charming, and by the time he hung up, she felt good about him and the conversation.

 Of course, he called again soon.

 They became “friends.”

 Then, oh, my god, he had a financial emergency!  Oh, what was he going to do?  He just couldn’t manage, unless he somehow came up with several hundred dollars immediately!  Oh, it was so sad, so terrible, and of course she rushed him the money, following his thoughtful instructions.

 More emergencies followed.  Her money followed.

 Her family found out—when she told them about the nice man she’d met over the phone.  Then they found out about the second charming man who regularly called her.  And a third one.

 They lectured her, they pleaded with her, they called her bank, they got a lawyer, they contacted the phone company, they talked to the cops, they asked for help from the local elder services agency. 

 A social worker and a police officer went to visit her, to warn her.

 She didn’t listen to any of them.  Their lectures and warnings made her angry.  These were nice men, they cared about her, they liked her, and if she could help them, she would, and nobody could stop her.  She loved talking to them so much, craved their attention so deeply, that she may not have cared anymore if they were conning her.

 The last I heard, it was still going on.  She’s now broke, although the men can probably depend on her income from those SS checks every month.  She will lose her apartment and go to live where the family can exert some control over the telephone.  Maybe.  There has been talk of legal guardianship, but that can be more difficult than it appears. Overall, they didn't find out soon enough, and they didn’t move fast enough.   It’s hard to get a firm grasp of shocking situations like this one when they happen to your own family, and it’s complicated in the way far-flung families are complicated—by distances, by emotions, by personalities, by other people’s money, by. . .life.  They are nice people, they are distraught, feel helpless, guilty, and deeply worried about her, and they don’t know how to cope with crooks.  They aren't rich, either, and her financial crisis is going to cost them, too.

 It may well be there were other things they could have, should have done, but they’ve done their best, one thing after another, to try to help her and stop the con men.  They did not succeed.  The “emergencies” of those men have turned into a real emergency for grandma and her family.  Maybe she can tell her new "friends" that she’s in a bind and ask them for a loan until she can pay them back.  Hahaha.

This is a grim subject for the holidays, but there are a lot of people who are especially lonely and vulnerable at this time.  If I were a con man, I'd get busy on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.  "Oh, gosh, I'm sorry, I must have dialed wrong.  I hope I didn't bother you.  Oh, good.  Thanks for being so nice about it.  Not everybody would be, but you seem really nice.  Are you having a good Christmas?"


Do you know anybody who's been conned? Have you ever detected an attempted con on you? Do you have any advice to give families or potential victims?

YOUR PRIZE for reading through this is an adorable Christmas video to cheer you up again.  Do watch until he laughs.  :)

Little Drummer Boy







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Auntie-Mom was conned by a guy. They actually got married. She thought he had a good career and did well. He travelled a lot. They travelled a lot together. She sold her home, so they could travel. Turns out his job was visiting his other "wives," and selling their homes, and finding lots of creative ways to co-mingle their assets. Auntie-Mom found out though. He went to prison. Auntie-Mom married again.A totally nice guy that really does have his own income. That was 20 years ago, and they are still happy together.

I was conned by a wheelchair provider. He has all the credentials. He's a crook all the same - a credentialed crook. His scam was to collect the money from Medicare and insurance and never deliver the wheelchair or deliver a much cheaper chair and pocket the difference. He collected about $30,000 dollars for my chair, but he never ordered it. I don't want to get detailed here right now, but he was very - very clever in his scheme. I finally got all the documentation I could, detailed what and how he did it and reported his fraud. An investigation has been ongoing. I've just been given the go-ahead to reapply for a new chair - lucky me - from the beginning again. That is okay in one way though because, due to my not having the chair I've needed, my condition has deteriorated, and my needs in a chair have changed somewhat... so... well... not to complain or anything... but geez, y'know?

I'm going to one day be the grandma that everyone worries about.

Nancy, thank you. Now I'm going to be awake all night watching baby drummers on YouTube. Somebody come turn off my computer!

Nancy, OMG! i just watched the Little Drummer Boy! Wow! Thanks! Sooooo cooool! Love him!

Reine, I am so sorry to hear about your wheelchair. How do these people live with themselves.

Now I am glad my is getting a bit anti-social in her elder years and she loves her call display phone. She doesn't even answer her doorbell if she doesn't want company!

Loved the Little Boy Drumming!!

Hi Gaylin, they live with themselves easily and happily. They are crooks. They will steal from anybody, the more vulnerable the better. They are crooks. This crook made a mistake. He saw chair, not person. Thanks for the commiseration. I'll survive. :) r.

Nancy, I got that exact same message on FB; so did one of my Friends. Jon is not only a God-fearing man, he's apparently a cheating bastard. I deleted it but immediately got a similar message at my throw-away email address--the one I used to sign up on Facebook. I get the Nigerian scam letter thing at that address, too.

That's a very sad story. I am amazed that anyone falls for these things, but obviously people do. I know I want to be as independent as possible, for as long as possible, but I think of my grandmother who lived alone for a few years. She used to talk about being so lonely once she couldn't drive. I guess it's easy to prey on that loneliness.

Harley, you can come live with Nancy and me at The Home. We'll keep an eye on you.

PS - Reine, that is awful. I hope the guy rots.

I initially didn't think I knew anyone who'd been conned but now I realize I do. It's a friend who lost his home (and much more) during Hurricane Katrina. On the five year anniversary, he wrote a long blog about his experience, which included being forced to pay an on-the-spot kickback to a FEMA employee. My friend knew exactly what it was as it was happening but the message was clear--write me a $300 check, now, or you don't get a trailer. He'd already waited a couple of months. My friend wrote the check, then called a lawyer friend, who called the FBI. My friend participated in a sting to catch the guy.

“I’ve been knocked down, blown up, lied to, shit on, and shot at. I’m not a virgin except in my heart, and nothing much surprises me anymore except what people do to each other. I’m a licensed pilot, everything from Jennies to jets. I’ve taught karate in Tokyo and lectured in Economics at Wharton. I can memorize the front page of the ‘New York Times’ in five minutes and repeat it back to you in five weeks. I can follow anyone anywhere from in front or behind. I can go forty-eight hours without sleep or a drop in efficiency. I can bench press four hundred and fifty pounds ten times without a break and was national Golden Gloves champion three years in a row. I speak four languages fluently and can wrestle with a menu in five more. …. Plus, I lie a lot.” – Nicholas Escalante

"If something sounds too good to be true, kill it anyway, just in case." - Fiona Glenanne

"Trust No One." - Fox Mulder

Happy days ahead. I’ve sent money to a top official in Nigeria who has told me, in the strictest of confidence, “I have the privilege to request your assistance to transfer the sum of $47,500,000.00 (forty seven million, five hundred thousand United States dollars) into your accounts.”

I’m not saying for certain, but I think “Prince Alyusi Islassis” may be related to some of the Hollywood producers I had to deal with back in the day.

Always be defensive. I have two FaceBook accounts. One is a “fan” page which is open to the public. The other, since it has an abundance of pictures of my grandkids, is restricted to blood and old friends.

My “fan” page and my “twitter” account are purely defensive. I put them up before Prince Alyusi Islassis got around to it. I would recommend everyone on this blog who is published do the same. There are more ways to do identity thief than you think. You don’t want your good name hijacked.

Boy, this is enraging. I have elderly relatives who were very smart back in the day and now are weak, needy and generous. It's up to us to be vigilant on their behalf.

I know it's common practice to "friend" anyone who asks on FB, but I don't. I don't friend anyone whose profile is blank, any man whose sole goal is "finding women" and---sorry, authors--anyone who uses his or her book cover as the profile picture. I have about 90 friend requests stacking up while I wait for profile info to change. Am I a weenie? Overly cautious? Or just the cranky type?

This is infuriating. My mother is 86, and has no money to give, and my sister watches over her finances, such as they are. I hate that other elderly people would be prey to these vermin. Also, it continuously amazes me that normal, usually level-headed people fall for the Internet and email scams.

And I hope there's a special place in he'll for the assholes who go after people in wheelchairs or who've lost their home.

However, thanks for the reward. That little boy is an amazing drummer!

Reine, that is a horror story about the wheelchair! My sister had caregivers steal canes and medications from her when she was still living in her own home. I've never heard anything as sad as your experience. I agree with Ramona - may he rot!

The same sister who is physically disabled has also suffered some cognitive damage from the same illness. It causes some serious confusion, and people have taken advantage of that confusion. She is in debt because of some scams. Fortunately, a conservator is working on this with her now. My poor sister tends to believe ALL of the "you can get rich with our system" stories that are out there. She had a bill of around $5,000 and nobody can figure out what she spent it on. Even now that she's in a nursing home she still manages to hook up with some scam artists. All she has to do is pick up the phone. It's beyond me why she believes these strangers, but cannot bring herself to believe the family and her conservators(attorneys) when all of us warn her not to trust the "get rich quick" stories.

About a year or so ago an elderly woman in my city was scammed by someone who called her, claimed to be her son, said he was in jail in Canada and needed money NOW to get out. She wired the money to him before it occurred to her to check to see why her grandson was in Canada. As you can imagine, he wasn't. Within the past month another grandmother here in town received a similar phone call but she remembered the news article about the first grandmother so she went directly to the police. At least this story had a happy ending.

Aww, and here I thought Jon thought I was special!

I can't believe how many scammers show up in emails--and most of them can't spell. Does anyone really send money to that friend/colleague stranded in (fill in the city) who lost her wallet/passport/credit cards? I've had that one from at least three sources.

As for FB, I have mixed feelings. I'm wary of accepting any requests from men, mainly because I know the demographic details of the people who read my books, and there aren't a lot of men there. Nor do I think they've fallen in love with my photo.

It seems sad to recommend being skeptical, but it's necessary.

On, noes, Jon cheated on me??!! With my friends, even??!!
This is a serious subject, but that is very funny.

It's pretty cool that I can post his love note here, and immediately find out that I should break the engagement. I'm not giving back the ring that I bought, though.

These are eye-opening comments, aren't they? I told another friend about this blog post I was doing, and she told me that her mother-in-law and the mil's sister had lost money to a charming young scammer who touted stocks to them.

THIS has me shaking my head: "Even now that she's in a nursing home she still manages to hook up with some scam artists."

And the beat goes on.

Speaking of the beat, I'm glad you love the little drumming boy!

Oops, I see that I said the grandma was contacted by her son, and then I later referred to him as grandson. I should have said "grandson" each time.

Although I haven't gotten any emails from men looking for women, I have received emails from people who seem to think I'm a professional matchmaker! That is, I receive emails from people claiming to be "young Russian ladies looking for good American mens to make babies with in serious marriage relationship", and I am apparently the "go to" person who can help these young Russian ladies! Weird...

The grandson thing can be esp. believable if the guy lands on an elderly couple with several half-grown grandchildren. He will sound loving, embarrassed and contrite. He doesn't want to tell his parents he's being charged for DWI and if granddad would just wire the bail bondsman $3000, he can come home for Christmas.

A friend was targeted by the gravel scam: "We've got half a load left, we'll spread it on your driveway for just $200." Then after the gravel was down, the menacing "boss" showed up and demanded $800. Unfortunately they picked a woman who has her own pistol and who had her sheriff's deputy hubby on speed dial. She held them there till he arrived with backups. The boss meekly accepted her check for $200, apologized for the "misunderstanding" and left.

Nancy, the drummer boy is darling. I'm going to root out the 3 year-old conducting Beethoven's 9th for you.

Lonely people will do anything for attention, including the ongoing attention of concerned relatives, if that's the only way they can get it. I know it sounds harsh and perhaps a bit jaded, but I suspect the grandma in the blog knows exactly what she's doing--everyone in her family is now paying attention to her! Success!

I know my own mother would be vulnerable to this sort of thing; she still thinks she's hot stuff (and so do men, by the way). In fact, even though my brother and I have access to all her accounts (just so we can see the inflow and outflow), she managed to give money to a "boyfriend" much younger than herself. She didn't really care that we weren't happy about it, either. Getting male attention weighed more heavily than her son's and daughter's alarm at her vulnerability. Sigh.

Reine, there is a special place in hell for assholes like that. Just sayin'.

Nancy P, I'm convinced that "kid" is a really a 35-year old little person. Wow.

Deb, you, too? And for many years so many emails, advising me how to lengthen my penis. To which my husband said, "Please don't lengthen your penis."

That still cracks me up.

Aw, and I thought I was Jon's one and only!!

Because of Jon and a couple of other 'interesting' folks, I'm real careful on FB now.

My mom was scammed by a neighbour for $1000.00. He had the nerve to call me to ask how she was doing when she was in the hospital. I told him if he ever went near her again I would call the cops, then notify every hospital, nursing home and senior's residence in the city about him, then I'd put his name in the local paper.

He then told me I was a bad daughter for not taking better care of her.

Deb, that is weird!

Margaret that is wonderful.

Karen, that is hilarious.

Donna, that is. . .adjectives fail.

OMG, Karen - we're communicating telephathically! I just went to check out Cake Wrecks for the first time in forever, and I was weeping from laughing. Now I want the calendar.

Anywho... sorry for the hijack. :)

Oh, thank you!for the Cake Wrecks site. That is hilarious. Happy hijacks always welcome!

My great grandmother married a gigolo. Does that count?

For once, I have no words.

Brunonia, I don't know if it counts. I had a rich great aunt who married one, too, but he stayed with her, was sweet to her, everybody liked him, and we didn't really mind when he inherited a whole lot of money years later. She'd been happy with him, and we figured he'd earned it!

And he didn't murder her for her money, so that was a point in his favor, too.

I've received the same FB e-mail twice telling me I'm the only living relative and heir of Saong ...linked to my (very German) last name. Needless to say I haven't rushed to collect.

A friend's e-mail account was hijacked with the "... is stranded in London no passport..." story. I work with a person related to her who almost fell for it". Thankfully she didn't.

When the e-mail account was hijacked it not only took over her address book it also transferred all of her existing e-mails to the hijacker. She had no clue until she tried to access her e-mail and couldn't. She worked with her service provider to get e-mail account restored but never did retrieve the lost e-mails. Fortunately she didn't have any "sensitive" information in those e-mails. I'm sure we all have e-mails containing personal information that we've received or sent that are stored in our accounts. Make sure they are protected.

Another incident I remembered.

In the middle of the night, the elderly parents of my neighbor got a call from a man who identified himself as a sergeant in some police dept. in [Grandma wasn't sure because Sgt. talked fast and mumbled the name of the town]. He told Grandma that he was calling because their grandson and some of his friends had been picked up for DUI. He said the kids said they were on their way to a fishing trip, but he wasn't sure if that was true.

Grandma asked, "Which grandson?"
Sgt. rustled some papers and said, "um, let me look here..."
Grandma: "You mean, NAMES GRANDSON."
Sgt.:"Yes, that's the one! He's from...(rustling more papers)
Sgt.: "Yes, that's the place! And he's how old...(rustle, rustle.)
Grandma: "Sixteen."
Sgt.: "That's right. Sixteen. Which means he's underage drinking."
Grandma: "But he doesn't have a license."
Sgt.: "No ma'am, I never said he was driving, but he was in the car, and he said to call you because you're more understanding..." and he ended up saying they should wire bail money. At this point, GrandPA woke up, took the phone and ended the mess.

The point is, "Sgt." got all the information FROM GRANDMA about this kid--who was sleeping in bed at home--by asking questions and letting her provide the answers. They called the local police, but I'm not sure what happened with it. These con artists, they're not dumb.

Ramona, my brother-in-law, who has never been married and is childless, got a similar phone call in the middle of the night. He assumed it was about one of our daughters, but he was wary, having recently heard about this scam on the evening news, so he called to ask me about it. Since I was home, and since neither of our daughters would voluntarily call this uncle for help (they're both smarter than that), we together figured out it was indeed a scam.

I'm 99.99% sure my brother-in-law would also have volunteered the information. For one thing he was awakened from a sound sleep, and for another, well...

My uncle had never married and lived with my grandmother. She didn't trust banks; she just didn't understand how it worked or how to take care of it. Uncle Willis took care of everything and made sure she had some cash in the house to go to the grocery store. What he didn't know was she didn't spend her allowance every week and was stashing the left over cash in another drawer of the sideboard. He thought she only had a hundred dollars. He would sit at the bar of a friend's restaurant talking with his other retired friends, complaining about things old single men complain about...his mother and her quirky ways. My uncle went out of town to a VFW convention. One of his friends showed up at Grandma's door and told her Willy called him and said he needed some cash. She should take the $100 from the sideboard so he could wire it to my uncle. Well, as Grandma explained to the police later, she gave him about $800 she had been stashing for months. And why was the police involved? He said he was a friend of Willis. She didn't know his name, but he said they were friends.

The good that came out of this was Grandma wasn't hurt, all of her children and grandchildren showed up at her house to make sure she was ok, and a week later she was in a nursing home (yes that was a good thing. It forced her children to face the fact she was unable to care for herself).

The bad was that she didn't know who it was who took the money. She couldn't remember what day it happened, what time of day. From the description she gave, my uncle had a good idea who it was, but the police really couldn't do anything. A lawyer would shoot some pretty big holes in her story.

Hell really does have a special room for these creeps.

LOVE that little drummer!!

Oh, geeze, Diana, now I'm worried about ME--my e-mail account has been acting very weird recently, and I've got loads of mails related to work that I really don't want to a) lose or b) share! I guess part of the holidays will be spent rectifying this.

On scams: my mother was very, very lonely after my stepfather died, but she put up a good front for my sister and I on the phone, and my brothers (who lived nearby) didn't realize--they were busy with their work and families or friends--poor Mom was just dissolving in misery. I could keep track of the financial aspects on periodic visits--she kept signing up for every credit card or other financial or phone offer that came her way, and every 2-3 months I kept cancelling them and sending products back or haranguing the company into cancelling the sometimes several-hundred-dollar charges they immediately put on the cards.
But, it wasn't until she coyly told me of her 'gentleman friend' that I realized how bad things were. A young man would drift by around sunset, when she loved to sit on her porch and enjoy the evening, and engage her in conversation. He never showed up when I was there--no one in the family ever caught him there, although the neighbors saw him and were concerned--but there was no way on earth Mom was ready to be skeptical about his friendship or motives. I begged her to stop encouraging him, but she was so vulnerable to attention that she believed his warm and charming words . . . until he raped her and disappeared. She was shattered, not just by the rape, but by her shame and embarrassment that she had fallen for the unlikely scenario of a 30-something loving her at 78. My brothers were so horrified that they were just furious, but, unfortunately, they blamed her, so her misery index just went deeper and deeper. It was an awful time.
She was also taken in by gypsies who told her that her roof required two little $25 patches, then proceeded to damage the roof while pretending to mend it, and demanded she write a check for everything in her checking account, which, fearful for her life as these big men stood over her in her living room, she did . . . thousands evaporated from her account within ten minutes, those guys didn't lose a second.
Because Mom had always had to be strong and independent and make her own decisions and fend for herself (my stepfather was adrift in the world of music and beauty--a wonderful musician but hopeless for anything practical, sadly), she still thought that she was a good judge of character and of the various offers that came her way.
These events, interpreted by my brothers as simple ploys to get attention, or even as deliberate misbehavior by Mom, made me research what happens to reason and judgement with age.
Folks, the truth of the matter is, we do become more gullible in our later years, unless nature gives us phenomenal gifts--best to make sure of your HABITS of verifying the credentials and employing only reliable sources of workmen/services, and refuse all phone/e-mail offers . . . period. A smile and a handshake may have been enough when you were young and sharp and noticing everything about the handyman or free-lancer who showed up to offer or answer your request, but it just isn't near enough in later years, when one's observation and instincts are a bit less agile.

I think I've mentioned this here before, but I was recently targeted by the 'pigeon-drop scam'--someone e-mailed, supposedly from Europe, asking to reserve several treatments in my office a few months ahead, for their holiday. Since I've had patients from all over the globe, and reasonably often have seen patients who are only in town for a few days, or who travel here specifically for care, I was glad to reserve time for this person--nothing to lose. But, then, they sent, unprompted, a 'deposit' to secure their appointments. This made me suspicious, since it is not part of my usual practice. The deposit, a certified cashier's check, turned out to be $1200 larger than the amount the person had offered, but I received an immediate 'oh, sorry, my assistant goofed, just deposit that and send me the difference' e-mail from the guy. I went to the manager of the bank the check was drawn on, and he went to their fraud unit and examination showed that the check was an exceedingly high-quality counterfeit. He said that they might possibly have honored it at first glance, but that eventually their security protocols would have revealed the fraud, after I was out $1200! The police said that this scam is very popular right now, since anyone can obtain high-quality check-writing paper.

I treasure my independence, but I think that the notion of a shared home in later years is a good one--three or four (or more) folks together are more likely to stay happy socially and be a little less vulnerable to crooks and scams.

Laraine, I'm staggered by what happened to your mother. I'm so sorry. What heartbreak. I hope your brothers have found sympathy for her in their hearts.

Love the drummer! After the Harry Potter movie, my friend and I shared coffee and chatted, near a kiosk of toys, and watched children investigate a lovely child-sized drum set . . and debated if Tia Maria should buy one for her niece (cute, but a 7-month-old can have as much fun with a spoon and pan, and they are down-sizing for a move to NYC and small, tiny apartment). We also watched the proprietor fly a toy helicopter --very cool!
Hate the scammers! I keep thinking how much good they could do in the world if they turned their efforts and talents toward something constructive. Hmm, guy came to my door the other night selling steaks -- maybe legit, maybe not, but I don't need that much meat. When I found myself starting to say I live alone, I stopped myself and made up a vegetarian husband and a daughter who only eats with us sometimes . . . whew! It is too tricky. I think I'll adopt the not opening the door policy.

Nancy, my sweet mom was so endlessly forgiving; it really brought us all to our knees at one point or another. She was such a survivor. After a stint in nursing homes (another hell altogether), we brought her back to her home and all participated in caring for her in her last months. I swear, she hung on until each of her sons began to understand, forgive, and love her as she deserved, and then she died, a few minutes after sharing a laugh with one of the hospice folks. My brothers did (and probably still do) suffer from guilt and depression as the reality of their earlier attitudes towards her set in, but, she gave them their chance to reconcile and love her, and they're glad that they had that. Likewise, she made it clear to me that she forgave and understood the times when I had misunderstood her or been harsh with her about financial issues. If us ordinary folk could nominate saints, she would have sainthood now!

Then there is this heart breaker....

Healthy But Lonely People Head to Hospital During Holidays


These stories are heart breaking!

I'm going to look at wrecked cakes now, so I don't get too depressed!

Laraine, what a good teacher your mother was to you. It's terrible that she had to take such a hit to do it, though.

Rod, yes, heartbreaking. All our connectedness, and we still have people with no one.

Karen, don't be too hard on your brother-in-law. I think most people hear the word "police" and a sense of panic sets in.

To lighten the mood, let me share the follow-up. Grandpa was so incensed that, the next day, he called my friend and demanded to speak to her son. Then he reamed him out--"Young man, just so you know, if I ever get a real call like that and you're stupid enough to sneak out and drive around drunk, you can just rot in jail because I'm not paying a dime..." and so on, and the poor kid just kept saying, "But Grandpa! I didn't doooo nuthin!"

Once upon a time, a sleazy dirtbag was dating a wide eyed innocent young lady. This dirtbag was setting her up for a scam in which he would eventually clean out her bank account and leave her with huge credit card debt. The young lady was clueless.

Fortunately, the young lady had two friends who were not unconversant with the ways of criminals, having at times associated with thieves, grifters and other unsavory types. These friends took to watching the dirtbag very closely.

Imagine their total lack of surprise to find that he had 4 other young ladies in his slimy clutches!

Imagine the young ladie's heartbreak when they were all brought together to compare notes and look at damning photographs. You might also want to imagine them getting very angry later on.

Imagine the sleazy dirtbag's surprise when cops pulled over his car and found a large amount of flake cocaine! Also, imagine his sadness at going into the pen for 20 years, of which he only actually did 7 years during which he forgot that his name was anything other than "bitch" or "punk".

The moral of our story is: Make sure that your mark doesn't have friends who are badder than you, dirtbag.

Love that drummer boy, the joy, and innocence-a worthy response to all that ugliness. In addition to my Nigerian riches, I am now getting letters telling me my email account will be closed, unless I "verify" it with my address and password. Most online companies have fraud units you can contact, so this one went to AT&T. The cakes were hilarious and made my blood sugar go up fifty points. What a mixture of stuff life is. Reine, I'm so sorry, what an awful story. Hope the ending is better.

A bit off topic but my co-author’s significant other, Kelly Larsen, is one of the top yoga instructors in the world. She was featured in Martha Stewart Living in Oct., was on the cover the most popular magazine in Chile and just got back from a week speaking in Hong Kong. Oh, and she’s getting her PhD from Harvard this month. Such a slacker.

She is going to do a podcast in January “Lift Your Mood Teleseries for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression.”


After today’s topic we could all use it.

Several months ago while I was driving long distances, I heard an interesting program on NPR (maybe The Story), about this group of people who are scamming the scammers. The story related was of some Nigerian scammers who were led quite a merry chase by these guys, known as "419 eaters", after the section of the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraud schemes.

You can read more about these (often seriously vindictive) people here: http://www.419eater.com/index.php

Also, from the 419eaters site, here is an action site, if you end up the victim of an Internet scam:


I have gotten scam calls at work, asking for verification or a credit card number for 'confirmation' of an order. Since I do all the ordering these calls give me a chance to vent some crankiness calling them out on their scam.

My Nigerian friends will be sending me the money any day now! Aren't you all jealous. And Jon, the god-fearing man will be friends with us all I am sure.

I think there is a special corner in hell for scammers where they rip each other off over and over again for eternity.

There must be a special place in hell for wheelchair thieves. I guess the only thing lower would be to knock you out of the chair to steal it.

If you have to say "i will never do anything to hurt a woman not even a fly" You probably would.

There was one man who did get back at the scammer it a big way: http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2003/02/57760 He put a bullet in the Nigerian ambassador.

A very good friend, an immigration attorney who was kind and gentle suggested I always count my fingers after shaking hands with a Nigerian because they are "the thieves of Africa". How far back does Nigeria's "business morals" go? Who sold the other tribes to the Europeans? Bingo!

Many of these crimes are very hard to prove and prosecute. And if you can catch someone and get them to court and get a conviction, they are still looking at much less time than a car thief.

Gee, on facebook I only get unsolicited friends from sweet young things (ok, some not so young) that want meaningful hourly compensated friendship.

Such heartbreak. Such hilarity. Nancy tapped them both today, didn't she?

BTW, cake wrecks = sufficient sugar to put me off holiday desserts for a few days, sufficient smiles to balance a lot of the darkness of this goofy and wonderful world.

{{{Nancy}}} Thanks for a great blog - especially meaningful to lots of people, I am certain. Very, very meaningful to me right now... and to have all this support. A word or two can mean so much.




And huge hugs to you, Reine. You do realize how many of us would love to put the bastard in a wheelchair and roll him down a steep hill?

Nancy - in an old broken wheelchair, a rocky steep hill.

And tied to the damn thing, plus with duct tape around his face.

Nancy, Gaylin, Karen - You got me laughing, and it wasn't easy. :) I shared this with P-Wog, whom I alternately call "Bruiser," and he said that you're welcome to join him, but he's first. <3

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