Muckrakers were huge in their time and we now have a similar type of reporting on the topics of our days. The topic is the internet itself and the lack of trust that comes with people working in a virtual world with little true interaction.
“Catfishing” the term given to making false profiles to entice hopeful people into online relationships has been brought into the light with the scandal the befell Manti Te’o while in his senior year of college at Notre Dame. As the story goes the girlfriend that he shared his most personal thoughts as well as his heart was in fact a fake. She did not exist.
Imagine the feeling of love and the feeling of being dumped. The highs and the lows are brutal and should not be visited upon my worst enemy. Now imagine falling in love and being dumped because the focus of your affection was a band of pranksters that thought it funny to cause others pain and embarrassment.
This is what we have today. It may not happen to you but it will happen to someone you know. Being lied to or tricked by false people with fake identities feels bad. It brings with it shame and humiliation.
My story is not as bad as most but it is still embarrassing.
I put my car on Craigslist in the hopes of selling it. Low and behold I received an email offering full price. A week later I received a cashier’s check for Thirty five thousand dollars with the rest to follow. I was ecstatic and shared my brilliance with my wife so that she could appreciate my very high IQ.
The buyer started calling me with a fairly thick accent. Now what was a strong African accent doing coming from a buyer named Michael in Portland. Well I didn’t really care as long as I had his check…thirty-five thousand dollar check to be exact. Well the end of the story is that Michael (which happens to be my name) was actually in Nigeria and his cashier’s check wasn’t worth any more than his promises that if I paid the moving expenses up front that he would send the final payment, another thirty-five thousand dollars.
But the bank never looked twice at the check. They never said anything to me about the check being a fraud and they never said that they see this particular scam every other day.
That would have been helpful, but instead I just felt like an ass. I wound up selling the car to a friend and not getting nearly as much for it. His funds were real (all cash) and I will never fall for that scam again…but there may be others that I fall for.
The problem that this story is supposed to illustrate is that we are human and we are open to new ways of getting screwed over so we are also skeptical. “I will research it online” what the heck does that mean?
It means “I am going to do nothing and act like I did” or it means “I will read whatever dibble there is online until I find something that justifies my skepticism”
What it doesn’t mean is “I am going to do extensive research from reputable unbiased sources”
For that we would want to go to the BBB or some other source but the BBB generally has less search engine juice than sites that employ the fake dead ex girl friend of Manti Te’o in order to spew enough negative crap to make themselves relevant.