Tag Archives: con games

Work Ethic and Scammers

Bear with me tonight, I'm free writing this as I think it up. Lately, in the real world, I've been coming across a lot of people who don't want to work for their money. The idea is one of, “You make the money, and I'll share it with you.”

This has gone on forever, but it's really getting prevalent today. I see people forming bogus franchises to teach someone how to get rich quick. They sell the franchises to suckers who are looking for a work-free way to make a fortune. The buyer gets the right to use the name and company logo. Many times there is a multi-level marketing concept behind it where the franchise guy gets a cut of everything the buyer earns. It becomes a kind of pyramid scheme.

Most of these businesses involve using a computer to scour the Internet for addresses and such. Then they sell “referrals” to actual business folks who have to work whatever field is involved. This means the consumer is getting a professional who is earning less. Consumers are working an angle too. Do you really want a discount professional working on your project? Discount brain surgery anyone?

Someone striking it rich doesn't actually happen very often. Many of the most successful people have a string of failures behind them. I remember the stories of Col. Sanders failing at all kinds of things before he tried marketing chicken. There is a famous statement about how many ways Edison learned not to invent a lightbulb. Edison and Sanders put their time in.

In the real world people put in their ten-thousand hours. Writers put down the million words to gain expertise. Would you respond to an Internet sweeper who promised to find you a literary agent, only to wind up with an agent with limited (or zero) experience working at a discount?

I saw a report about some newish hotel scams recently. One involves a phone call in the middle of the night. The hotel suffered a major computer malfunction and they have to collect everyone's credit card again. Except the hotel didn't really have a computer meltdown, and the caller isn't with the hotel.

Another one involves a wifi spot inside the hotel. There will be a sign with name and password for guests, usually a paper sign on the bulletin board. Again, this one has nothing to do with the hotel, and someone is scouring the user's computers for personal info.

The last one involves something I would have fallen for myself. Someone slides pizza coupons under the hotel door. They have an actual franchise name and logo, including photographs of the franchise's product. Think Pizza Hut here. Glossy paper, same font, same photos — fake telephone number. Give them your credit card number, maybe the expiration date and code off the back. What's keeping that pizza??? There is no reason someone couldn't circulate these at your house either. Maybe they head out in the dark and shove them all in the Sunday paper.

Twitter is full of folks calling themselves SEO experts, marketing experts, and even lifestyle coaches. These might be services of value to some folks, but I can't believe these are all on the up-and-up. There are way too many of them.

The other thing that's bothering me lately is the bending of facts, or complete abcense of them, to make arguments. Now that I'm on Facebook, I see this every day. They are logical fallacies, but I don't know all the formal names of them.

It works something like this: Someone shoots up a public square; therefore, we should vote for X (or against X). They twist tragedy before we even have time to process it. This is cold blooded opportunism at its worst.

Another version involves someone posting a silly video or meme. One of the comments will certainly be, “Looks like a real X supporter.” Substitute the politician of your choice for X. I know these are supposed to be jokes, but there is a twist in them that renders the comment un-funny. There is a serious desire to engage in the character assassination of politician X.

From my point of view, support someone, don't support someone, but be honest about it. Stomping down politician X doesn't make politician Y look good by default. It's a logical fallacy, they might both be terrible. Maligning someone's supporters doesn't make the commenter look intelligent.

In a perfect world, I'd like to see a human experiment. I believe we can educate ourselves out of this situation and make a difference. I'd like to take one class of high school seniors per year, teach them a class about such things, and see how they fare vs. their classmates over time.

The class would include logic, rhetoric, facts, evidence, and responsibilities. I might add some budgeting and long term planning. I know it isn't common core stuff, but it might prove valuable to the students who took the class.

This was kind of a rant, and I apologize for that. Maybe someone will be saved from one of the hotel scams, and that makes it worthwhile. Maybe one person won't send their hard earned money to someone promising the moon without any qualifications.

Maybe an author will use one of these situations to ramp up the pressure in a story someday. That would be cool.

Enough ranting. I have a couple of emails I need to get to before bedtime. There are going to be some fun guests here the rest of this week, so stop back and tell them “hi.” Maybe check out their wares. It's easy to hit the tweet button and help them spread the word. Maybe one of them will do the same for you one day.

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