[Thanks for today’s inspiration goes to Train’s My Private Nation album (one of my all-time faves) and to Queen for Another One Bites the Dust which I dedicate to every poor male soul past, present, and future that has to deal with my family in the process of getting to know me.]
My most memorable first date was you, Mr. S, because when you came in the door my father’s first question to you was “What do you know about Fibonacci numbers?” Kudos to you for answering without batting an eyelash: “I don't know.” I’d love to tell you on behalf of your gender that he’s gotten easier to deal with over the years, but that just isn’t the case. Now he doesn’t feel good until he has a copy of a valid driver license and Passport. We have family connections in varying degrees of law enforcement and if anything (and I do mean ANYTHING) turns up on your record, well too bad for you. So, being 37 and all, I’ve worked a deal out with my brother, attrition, and a few of his law enforcement contacts to help me out when I meet new folks--especially if it’s someone trolling MySpace accounts for b-e-a-u-tiful women like ME.
The reason I write this article is to tell you how real and dangerous just one of these “very interested” guys can be. It all starts innocently….”I will like to meet you.” So I looked at his pic. I looked at my pic. Couldn’t figure out why a pic like that would like a pic like me, but what the hey? I asked him, “Why do you pick me?” “Because I like you.” STOP! Now, you’ve read our entire communication thus far…and he’s decided he likes me? (RED FLAG 1) Then he says “I am from USA/FLORIDA/MIAMI.” Who in Miami, FL writes it like that? And doesn’t he know that me here in TX already knows FL is in USA? (RED FLAG 2)
So, I ask a few clarifying questions and my Yahoo! IM doesn’t carry any personal information and only one other contact…so I thought it might be interesting to talk to this yo-yo. I asked where he worked. He answers “OilAir Hydraulics, INC.” I clarify “In Miami?” He answers to the affirmative, but I am already on OilAir’s website because I know that their headquarters is, in fact, right here with me in the Greater Houston area (stroke of luck that I am actually in the oil business)…more checking and lo-and-behold: Internet Scandal Man isn’t on the company roster at all (at least his face isn't)—let alone as the Managing Director or Board Member of any kind. (so, what was that, RED FLAGS 3-5)
I must admit to some morbid curiosity at this point. There were several possibilities. 1) He just wants to chat and pretend he’s somebody. What a pity. Folks, if you just can't be happy being who you are, then you need to get there as quickly as possible. 2) He’s a stalker. 3) He’s going to try to pull some sort of internet money scam…the most popular being the 419 fraud/Advanced Fee Fraud…a scheme to entice the victim to send ever-increasing amounts of money with the promise that they will be rewarded with even greater sums of money for their trouble. Nigerian letter frauds started this sort of crime which has now expanded to include the use of contacting victims via dating websites and social websites like MySpace, in my case.
It didn’t take but a week for Internet Scam Man to find himself on a business trip to (drum roll) Nigeria (RED FLAG 6). Where he messaged me over a couple of days about the work he was doing. I know about drilling wells enough to know that he had no clue what he was talking about (RED FLAG 7). I was biding my time. Sure enough, two weeks ago, today, I get a very somber message from a "doctor" saying Scam Man has been in an accident (RED FLAG 8). Gee…how convenient. Also convenient was that scam man had supposedly used all the money he took with him to pay the correct officials—ok, BRIBE—to award him a contract. Who cares if I believe that or not? I mean, really?!!! We’re up to 8 red flags here! You can double that number if you include all our discussions on why he can't clearly speak the English language (or Dutch or German—the two he fell back on). (Oh, I almost forgot the at-least 20 red flags that flew when he mentioned he hired a bulldozer to "get the oil from the ground.")
Enter attrition. He and I have a pow wow and discuss all the information we would like to have before we pass this on to our "friends in the business." I continue chatting with Internet Scoundrel Man and get all that data from him. I pass to attrition. attrition calls in his favors. And now there are several people around this little planet we call Earth who are having a very bad day.
I feel minimally bad for them, but only for about two seconds and then I think of the BILLIONS of dollars our government agencies say are pouring into other countries just from 419 scams alone.
If you have received an email or request like I have described go to: http://www.occ.treas.gov/ftp/alert/2007-12.html
There you can follow easy instructions about how to forward questionable messages to the proper authorities and help in the fight against these criminals. And, seriously, you should fight it. It's not only disgusting, but dangerous. Law enforcement agencies and IT professionals across the globe are fighting it 24-7.
Hit the Road, Jack!