Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just Your Average Nigerian Prince

People are getting screwed by Nigerian Princes. I’m talking about the e-mails you’ve probably received claiming you’ve just inherited millions of dollars. Plenty of people seem to be falling for it as the scam industry ranks as one of the top sources of income for Nigeria.

How do people fall for these things? There’s just something kind of obvious about someone asking you for money so they can send you your rightful inheritance. Oh! Of course you can’t just take the transfer costs out of my current balance. That completely makes sense.

The whole Nigerian scam highlights a weak spot in the human defense system. We are so inherently lazy that we will go to any lengths to avoid future inconveniences, such as work. It’s not just through these scams that this happens, and those who fall for such scams aren’t any more stupid than the rest of us (well, maybe just a little.)

I would probably attribute my own desire for a quick route to riches to my grandfather. He consistently fell for the millionaire home sweepstakes, and his enthusiasm prompted me to get into it too. With each letter I received telling me I was one step closer to being a millionaire (with the continued subscription to a specified number of our sponsored magazines), my hunger for the easy buck intensified. Stacks of Reader’s Digest and other completely pointless magazines littered my bedroom as I filled out forms for every contest imaginable.

The price of gold is going up? Sign me up for your golden stamp collection please. Who cares if I can’t use these on letters; it’s solid gold, baby! Get me on that Beanie Baby bandwagon. Those stuffed animals with their crisp tags highlighting useless information about each character are going to be worth something one of these days. I collected pogs, Pokemon cards, glass animals made by wrinkled old people at the nursing home. Investments, I called them.

My obsession did not stop there. I attempted to finagle money out people at the beach by selling - what else? - the same sea shells on which I had planted my stand. I even bought a rock tumbler so I could add polished stones to my merchandise. And why? I wasn’t dumb, just greedy and lazy enough to attempt to make money without actually doing any work. I’m willing to bet the majority of people in this country can imagine a time when they signed up for a sweepstake or bought a fad item hoping it would be worth something someday.

This brings me back to the whole Nigerian thing. I am thankful that the internet had not been around long enough when I was growing up for identity theft to become prominent or I would surely be among the ranks of the idiots I can safely laugh at today.

Writing this blog makes me want to rummage through my old collections to see if they’re worth anything yet.

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