I love the internet. It is wonderful to be so easily connected to people everywhere. We are just a click away from housewives in Denmark, bankers in London, terrorists in Nigeria. We truly have access to a global marketplace.
“So, why the long face, Miss Pat? Did something go wrong? Tell me about it. What happened?”
“Well, I was so happy and excited and then so disappointed.”
“Go on, I am listening.”
I am counseling myself. Counseling myself because after my internet experience, I am the only person I trust.
“I was planning to move back to Florida (sniffle) and, and . . . ”
“There, there, take your time.”
“I looked online for a house to rent and found one. My dream house, small but stylish. It was on the bay, in a good neighborhood, and the price was so right.”
“I communicated for months online with the owners, a missionary couple in Africa. I even had a friend visit the address to make sure everything looked to be on the up and up. I was, (sob) in love with a house.”
Using my most controlled and responsible voice, I inquire of myself:
“And did you move into your dream house?”
“No, blankety-blank. I didn’t.”
“And why not, Alice?”
“They deceived me and told me to use Western Union and send a deposit to an African address.”
“Did you send the money, my dear?”
“No, I was stopped in time by family and friends. A friend found the real owners. The real owners had rented out the house six months earlier at twice the price. They had advertised it on the internet.”
Enough counseling. Readers, beware. When I shared my Nigerian email correspondence with my son his response was, “How could you have believed a word of this?” “Well, I was suspicious when they said a cousin was going to use the house for a few weeks because they had told me that it was unfurnished.”
I wish I could say, “Lesson learned.” Others, like me (maybe there is one other) just don’t get the scam part of being connected. Today, the crooks are from far away, but just as crafty. Crafty? Like selling fine crafted copper coffee sets on the internet? I’m in trouble now. I will confess to Rip Off Scenario #2. No counseling needed this time. This was very scary, and if my children read this, they may take away my password. I was looking through old emails for a poem, and I saw the words: Big Silent. “Why the Big Silent?” Who talks like that? We say in the President’s English, “Why haven’t I heard from you?” or “Why have you been so silent?” Who puts together an awkward phrase like, “Why the Big Silent?” I’ll tell you who, the same ones that sent me a check for $2000 priority mail and told me to deposit it and send them $500. How does this happen?
I advertised a copper coffee set on the internet and got an immediate response. My buyer was a little odd but she assured me that I would receive a check priority mail and someone would come to pick up ‘the item.’ You can imagine my surprise when I opened the envelope and saw my generous tip. The check was for $2000! Who said crime doesn’t pay? I was instructed to just make the deposit and send them money. Very confusing. Why was I sending them money when I was the ‘seller’? With trembling hands, I tore up the check and never answered the emails wanting to know:“Why the Big Silent?”