Saturday, August 26, 2006

Scam Dunk

"So how much money do these dictators make anyway"?

"What that eh?" the question catching me off guard, as it usually does when my dog Nawab is concerned. Yes you heard that right, those of you who don`t know about him, Nawab my talking dog. Got him free from my friend Ahmed who was leaving for Toronto. A great big loopy shaggy dog. Part this, part that, a bit of everything, in fact a Tiger Woods of the canine world. A dog with his paws in more than one basket.

"I was just trying to figure out the amount of money that a military dictator of a third world country makes" said Nawab.

"Probably enough to make the directors of some Swiss bank very happy" I replied trying to figure out what was happening.

"You know that you could be right about that one".

"So what`s up?" I asked my curiosity getting the better of me.

"Oh! Didn`t I tell you? Ah well you will learn it eventually anyway. I have been contacted by someone and while I am not at a liberty to state who, let`s just say it is someone close to the former regime in `M`".

"Why would they contact you? And for what purpose would they choose you?" I asked.

"Well because umm because obviously they know I am a `person` of integrity.

For they need someone who can be trusted enough to carry out an undertaking of great importance".

"And how would they know that person is you? In fact do they know that you are not a person but a dog?"

"They got my name off the business directory on the internet and I fail to see what my being a dog has to do with this".

"OK, but why did they choose only you? And that too out of the many others whose name is in that business directory? And on the topic of business directories how is your name coming up in business directories?"

"How would I know that? I`ll have you know I have been marked out as the dog to watch, why just the other day my trainer told me `I am keeping a close eye on you`. So word does get around you know".

"Just what I feared" I groaned.

"You just worry too much. This is a nothing but purely a business proposal. Furthermore it is of mutual benefit and entirely based on mutual trust, cooperation and a high level of confidentiality as regard this transaction".

Something about the words that he was using sounded familiar. So I queried him again. "Lets just start at the beginning, somebody close to the former regime in `M` has contacted you because you a man of great integrity. I am using `man` here as they obviously don`t know which species you are from".

"Being snide now aren`t you? But that is correct".

"And they have based this assumption on an entry in a business directory".


"Some business directory found on the internet, and that means that they don`t really know you then?"

"Yes but my details are there".

"And they sniffed those details out?" I found that quite funny so I repeated it again, "and they sniffed those details out?"

"Very droll but yes they have my details".

"So I am guessing there is some money involved here".

"That is correct, a very large sum of money that I can help them retrieve".

Realization was slowly dawning upon me but I needed some more details. "And would you need to do a lot of work to retrieve this, um, money?"

"Well all logistics are in place and all modalities worked out for a smooth actualization of the transaction within the next few working days of commencement."

Everything pointed to an internet scam. Some dreams would have to be shattered and it needed to be done quickly. "So basically what you are being asked is `please help me spirit some million dollars from country `N` through your bank account and I will give you a few million dollars for your mere participation!`"

"That is entirely correct".

"And secrecy is of utmost importance, right?"


"And all the money will be given to you once you supply them with your account details".

"You seem to know the drill".

"Yes and if you are not careful you will be drilling a hole in your pocket".

"What do you mean?"

The time had come to educate my dog about the great e-mail scams. In fact before it went online the scam had been sent out to victims via letter and fax. It is a simple message stating the sender has a large sum of money, and needs help transferring it out of Nigeria, or some other African nation. As a reward for your help, the sender promises to pay you a third of the money. Once you respond to them, guess what? The sender explains that there are transfer fees for the transaction, and that you`ll need to pay them.

Well who said money making was easy?

Investigations have revealed that the victims tend to get embroiled into the scam as the money supposedly gets close to being paid, but can`t seem to quite get to the bank account without increasing amounts of money to be paid. These emails are constantly being modified and country of origin being changed as they travel across the globe chasing victims.

"You know I never believed in this stuff" said Nawab.

"You didn`t?"

"Hey! I am pretty sharp nothing gets by me".

And nothing gets through him too, judging by the last two break-ins. But we really need to be vigilant about these scams on the internet. I think I`ll just heed the advice in the e-mail that my bank sent me and confirm my online username, password and credit card number using the link to the bank website on the internet.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Home Work

"I have decided to do some home renovation" I told my wife.

"Oh! Oh! Are you sure about what you want to do?"

"Absolutely, should be a piece of cake".

"You know those home renovation shows probably make it look a lot easier than it is".

"Well how hard could it be? That Jamie fellow and a whole bunch of people keep doing a different renovation every week".

"You know those people are professionals".

"Well I have been watching them for the past year and I think I have figured out how it’s done. Look at it this way I will be doing only one renovation compared to the hundreds they do".

"That’s the only one I am worried about. I suppose you will want me to get involved in this hare-brained scheme of yours?"

"It is a `Home Renovation`, so everyone at home can join in. Well actually only if they want to".

"Just remember the last time you tried to fix the car`s air conditioner yourself".

A cruel blow that one. I should have seen it coming - like a vicious haymaker from Mike Tyson. Well in my defense I must say it was done with the best of intentions. That car was close to a scrap heap anyway and I was thinking of buying a new one, especially when the insurance backed out, but I digress.

"I don`t know what the car has to do with it", I said frostily, "maybe if in the past they had car shows just like the home renovation shows these days".

"Oh! Do what you want".

A small victory, I knew she would listen to logic. It was time to go hardware shopping.
"What’s that?" demanded the wife when I returned from the trip to the hardware store.

"Oh just a few tools" I said airily, hoping she would not ask for the bill.

"A few! Looks like you went and bought the whole store".

"Well what could I do? I thought I just needed a hammer and nails but this most helpful fellow at the Home Renovation section gave me a very informative talk. Very nice young chap indeed and very knowledgeable. `Handy Andy` that’s what they call him. I wanted to look at some power tools and do you know what he said?"

"I don`t but tell me anyway".

"Always use a circuit breaker/safety switch at the power outlet when using power tools. A small price to pay, for a huge payoff - you and your family`s lives! So I got this safety switch for the house and circuit breakers for all the outlets. Remind me to call the electrician tomorrow".

"And what`s this? My God is that the price?"

"Look this drill will practically pay for itself. Screwdriving and drilling are easy with this Swiss made 14.4 volt cordless drill. Features keyless chuck, 5 stage clutch and 2 variable speeds, shaft lock, low profile design, lightweight, electric motor brake and battery recycling program. And it’s very useful in hanging up those picture frames you always wanted me to do" said I remembering what Handy Andy had told me.

"That looks like a very fancy saw".

"Oh we needed a saw and Handy Andy says they are indispensable around the house. And this one features low friction coating for more efficient action and thicker blade results in less energy consuming vibrations. I just couldn`t buy only the saw; you do need these other tools to help with the finishing. Can`t have it looking like some shabby amateur effort".

"I suppose you will have to tell me about this", she said as she slowly lowered herself into a chair. Poor thing did not look too well, looks like my attempt at making breakfast had not agreed with her.

"Well you know all this woodwork can`t just be done anywhere. It’s not safe with the children in the house. So I got this workbench".

"Is that just a workbench?"

"Well not exactly. It is the new XX2005 workcentre. You see it is the centrepiece of the Woodworking System with improved side chassis & clamps. You will create professional results every time you do a woodworking job. Features quick 40 second conversion from table saw to crosscut saw. I mean you don`t want the home improvement to look like shabby job do you?" reinforcing what I had said earlier.

"You`ve got all these DVDs. How many did you need?"

"Oh those are the training DVDs you need to learn about the craft".

"But that looks like a small DVD player and TV. We already have a DVD player and TV".

"True but then I won`t be working in the lounge and can`t keep the kids away from their movies, so this is a good system to keep things away."

"I can think of other things to keep away" she said tersely, "Anything else I need to know?"

"Not really", I said, thinking it was probably not the time to tell her about the new work shed that I had got. But I will do it soon. Really I will, don`t you believe me?

Footnote: This was previously published in ’The Indian Connexion’.