Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Scams I Wish I'd Thought Of

Every once in a while you hear about a scam so outrageously phony that you wonder how anybody could fall for it. The commercials and infomercials come on at all hours of the day telling you how to make a fortune in real estate, how you could have the body of Adonis or Aphrodite just by working out with this glorified rubber band twice a week, or how this cream, when applied to your thunder thighs, will miraculously melt away the fat. Here are a few of my favorites:

A sure candidate for the Scam Hall of Fame is Rocky Moselle, the guy who dreamed up the 'International Star Registry'. For the sale price of $48.99 Rocky will name a star after the person of your choice. He'll even deliver a pseudo-authentic certificate attesting to the fact that he just scammed you for fifty bucks. The idea of selling naming rights to the stars in the sky is brilliant; all Rocky actually delivers is a piece of paper that's not worth the paper it's printed on. He has no more right to sell star names than I have to sell naming rights for the pebbles on the beach, yet with slick marketing and despite the lack of a real product, Rocky is a millionaire. Hmmm, the International Pebble could work. God bless America.

How about the little plastic gadget that is being sold to exercise away double chins. I fell out of my chair laughing when I first saw the infomercial, yet I'm sure thousands of units were purchased by multi-chinned suckers who sit there every blessed day raising and lowering their heads with this dopey thing stuck under their chins. Products that promise to make you slimmer, less wrinkled, or more youthful have a gigantic edge in the daydream sweepstakes. We've had this notion shoved down our throats about how beauty means thin and young, and the lengths to which people will go chasing this false idol are sad and pathetic.

If you think there's a limit to what people will spend their hard earned money on to improve their looks, here's a quote about a product that vacuums fat from your body: "The Hypoxi Vacunaut gives you a non-surgical tummy tuck. Along with an exercise program and diet plan, it's designed to take off inches rather than pounds. A neoprene body suit is attached by three small hoses to the Vacunaut machine. When it's switched on, it removes the air between the body and the suit to create a low-pressure atmosphere, providing a vacuum around the stomach area. The fat is metabolised and is then excreted through sweat, which is sucked out by a vacuum hose." Probably any commentary on my part is unnecessary. (Hint folks, the exercise and diet alone will do the trick).

Get-rich-quick schemes are also powerful lures for separating suckers from their money. There must be a dozen hucksters in slick infomercials telling us how to get rich selling real estate. Is there money to be made in the real estate market? Sure. Are you going to make any? Probably not. The question I'd love to put to these crooks is: If these sure-fire secrets for making millions are so foolproof, why are you sharing them with the public by selling cheesy DVDs at two in the morning for $29,99? Why would you invite all this competition into the market instead of just making the millions yourself using your system? Answer: The millions come from selling the DVDs to us fools, not from buying and selling foreclosed properties.

Some of the stuff being peddled around is not just quackery, but can be downright dangerous. Dr. Lorraine Day is a woman who claims that all diseases are caused by a combination of three factors: malnutrition, dehydration, and stress. She tells people that drugs never cure disease. She spouts long lists of health problems that she claims are caused by commonly used foods and drugs. She apparently believes that it is appropriate to tell people that medical treatment has never succeeded in curing cancer, and that her ten step program is a superior cure. The medical community condemns her advice as untrustworthy and particularly dangerous to people with cancer, but people who are frightened, possibly desperate, decide to follow her advice instead of getting proven care. Doctors may not always be right folks, but this woman is a loose cannon, and in my opinion should not be allowed on the airwaves to sell her snake oil.

The saying: 'There Is No Free Lunch' may be trite, but that doesn't make it less true. We know in the common sense part of our brain that if something looks too good to be true, we are headed for a fall if we take the bait. Sadly, we are all susceptible to the come-ons that push our buttons, drop ten pounds in a week, get the six-pack abs you always dreamed of, lose those unsightly wrinkles and look younger in we call the 800 number and whip out our credit cards. There are no magic bullets, yet every day we prove how right P.T. Barnum was to observe cynically that there's a sucker born every minute. The next time you feel tempted to send away for that "Learn Spanish While You Sleep" tape, write a check instead to the Children's Craniofacial Association at the link shown below.


LOOKING FOR A WORTHY CHARITY? TRY THESE FOLKS:Children's Craniofacial Association

1 comment:

The Whiner said...

What about glow in the dark wallpaper?