By A.J. Llewellyn
In this tough economy, one of the most surprising and durable ways to make money remains the Internet scam. The most effective ones are those that play on the recipients' hearts.
These are cruel scams because they rely on the recipient's basic good nature to help out a friend. It also requires that the recipient has some funds as well...but here's how it works.
I know, because I have received one of these scam emails. I didn't fall for it, but I ALMOST did.
In my case, a boxer I used to be very close friends with emailed me.
In big letters starting with HELP, he told me he was in Las Vegas and had fought in a match. After he was paid and returned to his hotel, he was beaten up and robbed. He was now in serious trouble because he couldn't pay his hotel bill and jail was being threatened.
He needed $3,000 to get home. If I could wire him any part of that money, he would pay me back within a week of returning home.
I was initially furious since it's been two years since I heard from him and my last couple of emails went unanswered.
Retiring is tough for some fighters, especially when it's an enforced retirement [usually for medical reasons such as brain damage, serious injuries resulting in coma and/or brain surgery]by the state Athletic Commission with which they are registered.
After getting past feeling pissed, I was slightly concerned but very suspicious.
It was a detailed and in some ways credible email, but I checked boxrec.com, which lists each and every fight all over the world.
My friend was still listed as inactive and retired.
I then checked Fightnews.com which slavishly covers every fight, even backyard brawls. Again nothing.
I was suspicious for other reasons, too. The email clearly stated he couldn't pay his hotel bill. Fighters don't pay for their rooms. Promoters do.
I was concerned enough to want to contact the fighter's parents. However, I first wrote back to the fighter at the email addy from which he contacted me, plus another one I had for him.
I said, "If this is really you, call me."
I received an email a few days later. It wasn't a particularly nice one. In fact he was quite nasty. He wrote from the alternate email addy I had for him and he said, "I hope you know this wasn't me."
We wrote back and forth and apparently the email hacker had swindled quite a bit of money out of people who still loved and cared for the fighter, including one of his aunts who sent him the entire sum. It was money she couldn't afford to send him, but she did it out of love.
The FBI is now involved and the fighter is deeply anguished at the wide net the hacker has thrown. All over the world.
He feels responsible. But he is not. I tried to cheer him up by saying he's obviously still loved and respected and he gets this. But somebody is making a lot of money off this poor guy by hacking his address book.
I hope this crook is caught. I think this is a particularly nasty crime because it relies on trust and love and that underneath it all, the hacker believes that there are still some good people out there.
Crimes like this however, chip further away at our already damaged humanity. We are a sick race badly in need of a moral overhaul.