I clicked on the link to a blog in South Africa I’ve been following for about a year. Her page was nearly completely loaded when, suddenly, the browser went blank and my AVG anti-virus displayed a dialogue box showing a hack alert.
I immediately closed the browser and started a virus scan on the laptop. After several minutes, the scan was complete. It had come up with one instance of malware and two hacking attempts. As an added precaution, I ran a full “deep scan” of the entire computer. The final result showed that a third hacking attempt had been made.
I sent an email to the South African blogger to inform her that her blog may be infected. I haven’t received a reply. I don’t think she is the dishonest party, but something fishy happened to her blog.
It’s easy to believe that fraud is worse than ever before. However, if we contemplate fraud we realize that dishonesty, corruption, cheating, and fraud are ages old problems that exist in every part of the world and have been around since time immemorial. People misbehave, it’s the way humans frequently function.
Despite the fact that we all have told fibs, corruption and fraud take dishonesty to a much meaner level. Fraud is not only premeditated theft, it is often very sophisticated dishonesty. It can take the form of computer and network hacking, con games like pyramid schemes, mass confidence games via social media and conventional media, collaboration of two or more malevolent people, or face to face fraud with an acquaintance. It sometimes seems like we’re swimming in fraud. It’s then easier to become cynical about the human race.
Fraud is often a dishonest act of opportunity. Temptation presents itself, and even people who claim to have “high moral standards” surrender to the act. In fact, you may have noticed that many people who claim to be impeccably moral have been caught participating in immoral, fraudulent activities. Many times it’s a matter of “do as I say, not as I do” to distract us from their ill-deeds. It seems that one of the worst forms of fraud is moralism.
“Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.”–Sophocles
We can decry against deception, monopoly, and corporate fraud all day, but we seem powerless to defeat it. We can get the impression that the only way to succeed is to play loose with the facts and hire top-notch public relations people. With the lessening of protective regulations along with ever more sophisticated means of getting around the regulations that still exist, the public is increasingly getting short-changed in many areas of life.
Without honest oversight, big-time fraudsters have cart blanche influence over society and the economy. Taken to its extreme, a country infected with high levels of fraud can fall prey to kleptocracy. That is a cabal of people in high places who seek to exploit national resources and steal from the public treasury by any means they can get away with. In other words, a kleptocracy is rule by thieves, mobsters, and fraudsters.
This business of fraud seems overwhelming and disheartening. We do not have to be victimized through cheating, economic manipulation, organized crime syndicates, and free-lance fraudsters. It’s best to pause awhile and gather our senses. What has worked for me is to remember my past experiences with fraudulent people. I balance that with the fact that most people do not intend to defraud others. Then I exercise mindful skepticism. Until the day when I can buy a mind-reading device, mindful skepticism will be my main tool against falling victim to fraud at all levels.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes talk-show host, Stephen Colbert. “Don’t be afraid to make things up. Never fear being exposed as a fraud. Experts make things up all the time. They’re qualified to.”