My friend Jorge had a very close call with a fraudster last month. His phone rang during a nap so Jorge’s mental state was groggy and not at its usual savviness . It was one of those robocalls. The pre-recorded voice congratulated him for being a winner in a supposed sweepstakes contest.
The voice promised that if Jorge entered his credit card number onto his phone’s keypad that the sweepstakes company would expedite delivery of his brand new large screen television. Just as he reached for his wallet to look at his credit card, Jorge realized that the phone call was a scam. He immediately hung up the phone.
Fraud is a very serious problem that has been with humanity ever since we evolved from our earlier primate ancestors. During the past few years, it seems like fraud has become much more common and society is in the process of normalizing it. We hear about voter fraud, political fraud, corporate fraud, consumer fraud, and more. Just as we are made aware of a new type of fraud, the fraudsters are one step ahead of us.
It seems like our world is awash in frauds. They can be the petty deception of a personal “frenemy” or members of Congress finding ways to take Social Security and Medicare benefits away from us. The lies and deception of fraudsters in the news is absolutely dizzying. The politicians and clergy who decry fraud and deceit are oftentimes the worst fraudsters around.
The level of deception and misrepresentation is so high that people are losing faith in trusted institutions. Of course, that is the intention of our adversaries and of organized crime. Too often, the lies flow, and the citizens don’t care as long as the liars share their agenda.
When fraud becomes socially acceptable, then society is headed for disintegration. When we consider the definition of disintegrate, this saying is actually true. The various sectors of society split apart from the unity of the nation. Demographic by demographic the unity or integrity of the country is being compromised by the moral crisis of untruth.
The fraud of “fake news” was conceived and continues to be spread by those who complain about it the loudest. The intent is to destroy trust in media. The propaganda is apparently working. The proponents of “fake news” appeal to social fears, greed, and imagination. It’s one of the latest “shiny objects” put forth to distract us.
I wish there was a ready solution to cure this very dangerous problem. All I know is to use the tool of skepticism (not cynicism). We only need to pause a moment to calm our minds. Former radio sportscaster Ron Weber said “If it is too good to be true–it is probably a fraud.” It was Jorge’s skepticism that saved him from credit card fraud.
Regarding the larger picture, corruption, embezzlement, fraud, and cheating are widespread flaws of human nature. The more fervently a person denies such misbehavior, the more guilty he or she probably is. Miscreants are generally the most avid moralists.
The best thing for the individual is to be alert, not paranoid, for clues about ponzi schemes, cheating, and fraud. Keep your B.S. detector activated.
Basically, we cannot accept fraud.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders a statement from the first Chancellor of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck. “With a gentleman I am always a gentleman and a half, and with a fraud I try to be a fraud and a half.”