Friday, June 23, 2006

There's a sucker born every minute

And two to take ‘em, as P.T. Barnum’s legendary quote goes. However, it’s unlikely the American showman ever envisioned the size and scope of the chump that recently turned up in a painfully laughable investigation by Hudson Falls Police Department.

Apparently, a village woman was plucked off the Internet and goaded into cashing bogus travelers checks at a mini-mart, according to Friday’s Post-Star. Were that the extent of the story, one could easily write the case off as another gullible soul who was overly trustworthy with people she met online, as some less tech-savvy folk are.

But it’s hard to fathom that anyone with at least one functioning brain-cell could believe a complete stranger saying that mailing eight $500 traveler’s checks across the globe to someone in another country is the easiest way to change them into negotiable currency. This is especially the case when the aforementioned stranger happens to originate from a Web site proffering a method to get-rich-quick by working from home.

Did somebody say warning signs?

Well, this particular woman didn’t see them. In fact, she ended up cashing $1,000 worth of the bogus checks at the corner Cumberland Farms before someone finally alerted the authorities.

As if to add insult to injury, the woman was also duped into giving all of her personal information to some itinerant person claiming to live in England. Unfortunately for the limey would-be thief, the solicited rube turned out to be an uber-rube and even lost the return address to which she was directed to send the money.

Perhaps an ounce of sympathy could be garnered the woman, were it not for the fact that she stood to gain a cool grand from the gig. Not to mention, she didn’t use her own checking account to cash the checks, which was a wise move more likely precipitated out of necessity than her actual thought process.

Of course, given all the flotsam and jetsam clogging the Internet these days, it’s always good for police to alert foolhardy quick-cash seekers of new scams as they percolate online. For those still thinking about answering that random e-mail sent by deposed Prince Ahwa Koaume from the Ivory Coast seeking to hide his family’s fortune in an overseas bank account, here’s a warning from the Hudson Falls Police: if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.

There comes a point, however, when shear Darwinism should be expected to take over and cull a few of these mind-numbingly dense people out of the gene pool, lest it become too watered down for society to put together two cogent thoughts.

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