If you’re like me you love going through your e-mail spam box to read the horribly written and thus vastly entertaining “letter of introduction” from daughters of Russian oil kingpins, deposed African leaders, and the usually elusive South American kings of forgotten lands of yesteryear. The tragedy inherent in all of this is that none of the bullshit they’re trying to sell you could possibly true. Believe me, I wish there were African leaders who wanted to launder me their money but the truth of the matter is that very few African leaders survive a military coup. Executing your political enemies is usually number one on any future politicians list of things to do once power has been consolidated. The same holds true for South American leaders where the military junta is far too intelligent to leave a leader alive and well after seizing his government. This leaves us with the daughters of Russian oil kingpins.
There are gangsters from three countries that you really don’t want to mess with. There’s the Chinese mob, the Russian mob, and the Eastern European merchants of death. The Chinese mafia is well-renowned for their methods of torture, so I don’t recommend messing with them, they also appear to be quite skilled at martial arts, which would lead one to think that almost any other business partner would have a better chance for success. Also, the dregs of Chinese society operate human smuggling rings and rely chiefly on the drug trade to finance their operations. Though on paper this may sound all well and good, at least as far as cash flow is concerned, this usually means that any western inter-minglers are expendable to one degree or another. The Russian mob has a nearly unlimited supply of terribly inaccurate automatic weapons and they tend to go after family first. I would think that those two factors, especially when taken together, would serve as a sufficient deterrent for anyone who thought that a third-world life of crime might be right up their alley.
What we’re left with then is the Eastern European MODs or Merchants of Death. These are people who usually have ties to the Stazi in one form or another and are extremely skilled at utilizing eastern torture methods. Why you’d want to get into bed with these guys is something that even the creators of Grand Theft Auto IV couldn’t figure out. Now that I’ve established that the daughters of Russian oil kingpins are a bad idea, let’s talk about the middle men for these “former” South American and African warlords/political leaders. Remember Pinochet and Noriega? Yeah, not exactly remembered, even in their own countries, as good people let alone decent leaders. Accepting a deal from someone who claims to be in league with these folks is kind of like inviting Pol Pot to help you pick out kitchen knives. African warlords are a myth for the most part. It’s true that there are warring factions in Africa, but these guys don’t advertise on Craigslist because they generally don’t use their money to buy computers. They’ll buy cell phones because those can be used to make IEDs, but in order to pay for computers they’d have to cut back on firearm purchases and that’s not something that African warlords like to skimp on. There are about ten or fifteen different countries in Africa (out of about 50) that have active clans of warlords, but none of them want anything to do with you and likely aren’t going to let you in on a great business opportunity.
None of the above information stops scammers from spamming your inbox. This is because, like a direct mail campaign or door-to-door salesman, they’re relying on you to not have any common sense. The old rule: “if it sounds too good to be true it always is” applies here more than ever. Nobody offers you “great deals” out of the goodness of their heart for the same reasons that you’ll never sell a script to a Hollywood studio and retain credit on the final draft. They want to move things at a cheap price for them so they can pocket most of the money for themselves. Never underestimate someone’s ability to appear overly self-righteous or their ability to align their self-interests with yours only insofar as it gets them something they want or need. In the same vein, it should be noted that no one will ever pass up an opportunity to deny you an opportunity. I remember wanting to sell my first script to South American production companies because they were far more interested and far more willing to pay top dollar for the rights to my concept than any of their North American counterparts. I’m quite thankful that I did not do this because it would have essentially made me an outcast in the writer’s guild, which is just one of many reasons that they wanted to do this deal with me. Never underestimate someone’s desire to screw you over even if it doesn’t appear as if they have a good reason to do so.
I worked at a restaurant once where a woman there absolutely hated me. I never understood why and I still don’t know why, but she was absolutely convinced that I was stalking her and trying to rip the business off in some way. Her anger came in fits of rage directed at me or my co-workers and the fact that none of us would quit only seemed to convince her of the necessity of her over the line actions. It all climaxed one day when she accused us of stealing a certain amount of petty cash. This was obviously absurd, but the way that she setup this crime was absolutely genius. She decided to take a weekend off and leave me, yes me, who had worked there less than six months, in charge. Then, as my shift ended on Sunday and I went through the deposits making sure that all our business was accounted for I realized that someone had stolen the previous days cash overnight. This made me look like the prime suspect as I was one of only two people with keys or at least so I thought. Later I found out that she had keys made days before so that all of this could be done without my knowledge. Thus I was sitting there with the police insisting that I had no idea what happened (and I didn’t) while she sat in back smiling thinking that it was a sure thing that I’d be arrested. I was mortified, I was in tears, and my feeling of self-worth plummeted to such a low level that I actually contemplated suicide.
This woman had done her homework, she knew exactly what the procedures would be and what would happen once they were followed. What she didn’t count on was an investigating officer that didn’t buy her story. In two weeks, I was cleared as a suspect and then mysteriously this officer was “reassigned.” That’s an odd thing to do in the course of an investigation and as my lawyer later pointed out to me this just happened to occur after this woman met with this officer’s boss and came forward with “new evidence” that, wait for it, pointed the finger back at me. How did she get all of my co-workers to change their stories two weeks after the event took place? Why would people I had never wronged come out against me even though most of them realized that I couldn’t possibly have done it? Simple, she threatened their jobs. The new officer on the case was able to bring me down to the station for questioning and decided about twenty minutes after that meeting to charge me with the crime. This all seemed very odd to me and when my lawyer looked at the charges he asked: “why would they write a municipal citation for a major robbery?” That turned out to be the question that destroyed the prosecution’s case. My lawyer devised a strategy where he would appear for me in court, denying the prosecution the opportunity to get me to testify against myself, and the charges were subsequently dropped due to a lack of evidence. I was unable to pursue a slander case because just days after the hearing certain court documents simply “disappeared.” The clerk’s office didn’t know what happened, the prosecutor didn’t know what happened, even the judge didn’t know what happened.
After that traumatic event, I never failed to realize just how far someone would go to try and screw you over. I am now so cynical even with the most casual encounters that I refuse to let my guard down for anyone. This combined with my Asperger’s is the reason that it is very difficult if not altogether impossible for me to sustain relationships with anyone outside of my immediate family and one reason that I tend to come across as socially awkward. It’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s that I’m terrified of what people will do to you just for the fun of it. All of this brings me to my utter delight at reading potential spam e-mails. There is a fair amount of distance between the person trying to scam me so I don’t feel completely defensive and I understand that in order for them to do something they need my consent. All of this makes it very easy for me to enjoy the terrible “letters” that I receive in my inbox. Apparently it has never dawned on any of these folks that there is a difference between “mail” and “e-mail,” but that just adds to my comic delight in reading these profound misunderstandings of the English language. There is nothing like reflection to make you realize just how hard life is and just how much enjoyment can be had at the expense of others so long as you’re not actively trying to ruin their lives.