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  Rick Sutcliffe

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The tragi-comedy side of deceipt and other bunq

If it sounds too good to be true: it's bunq. Ever received a phone call letter or eMail telling you how to get rich quick? All you have to do is pay a few thousand for that land in Florida, cough up a legal fee to settle an estate, pay a service fee for a free vacation, cooperate with the "bank inspector", the "security audit" or confirm your personal data with "accounting," and you'll make a fortune. NOT! You'll be taken to the cleaners for every penny they can get out of you.

Yes, modern con men (and women), salivating over a whole new generation of sheep to shear have moved in force to the Internet, replete with a multitude of new-sounding variations on tired old scams. Instead of helping you "find" a cash-filled wallet and asking for a small deposit to retain a lawyer who will handle returning it to the owner, they want you to provide them access to your bank account so $25 Million in illegal diamond smuggling or oil cartel profits can be deposited there. Instead of peddling snake oil home remedies for all your ailments, they'll pitch creams to enlarge body parts for better sex appeal, anti-aging formulas, assorted pharmaceuticals (cheap), and genuine counterfeit watches. It's all bunq!

You can readily buy elevator shoes, a contract to publish and promote your latest book (regardless of quality), domain names, hosting, or logo/website design work (all at heavily inflated prices). Of course, the bunq store never sells out of phoney roof and driveway repairs, worthless stock, bootleg music and software, and overpriced cheap goods of all sorts. Why not cash in your bunq lottery winnings to vacation on your Florida swampland/ After all, the fraudsters are using your stolen credit card and bank account information to live it up on the French Riviera while they launder their drug profits.

To take further advantage of the distressed, the insecure, the gullible, and those with an interest in spirituality but not much discernment, shysters will sell you palm crosses blessed by a holy man, water from a sacred shrine, books on numerology, fortune telling by crystal balls, tea leaves, or horoscopes, and the services of psychics, mediums, and magicians. Sorry, it's all bunq, too. If any of these spiritists, for instance, could tell the future, they'd be quietly enjoying fabulous wealth from predicting the stock market, not casting horoscopes or consulting spirits for a few dollars at a time.

To twist the knife, some of these will also bombard you with spam about programs that will supposedly eliminate spam and with viruses masquerading as anti-virus software. Meanwhile the viruses, Trojan Horses, and other malware you let into your computer system when you opened the unsolicited eMail in the first place are busily deleting all your files. So, beware, lest you become the latest sucker to lose your life savings and all your work, for today it can happen in milliseconds instead of weeks.

Here are a few of the more common scams:

  • a letter telling you to send money to the top name on a list and add your own name "for luck" (and greed)? You could go to jail for fraud for passing on chain letters.
  • email wanting you to cooperate with a money laundering scheme to get funds from oil, diamond, or bribery transactions out of Africa/South America. If you express any interest, some very nasty Mafia types may end up putting a heavy hit on you.
  • a call or letter telling you you've won a "free" vacation, piece of land, lottery draw, etc. You need only send a small processing fee. The only business they're in is taking your money.
  • a marketing plan you buy into, then resell, passing a commission up the line, but not selling any real product. Such "pyramid schemes" are illegal. Like the chain letter, the first person makes money by swindling the rest.
  • a business arrangement you buy into to sell, transfer, or dispose of surplus, freight damages or stolen goods. The only profits are the ones you generate for the originator by joining.
  • a security department from your bank, credit union, or online store (PayPal, eBay, Amazon, etc.) contacts you to "verify" your account information. Cooperate and they steal your identity, bank account, and run up huge expenses on your credit card.

Urban Myth Bunq: These are a collection of classic stories that circulated in the old days by word of mouth, but now get passed around in eMail messages or on web sites. None have the slightest shred of truth, but to gullible people they must sound good enough. Never perpetuate them by passing them on to another person. Typical samples of these lies:

  • the soap company whose profits go to Satanists;
  • the hitchhiker who turned out to be an angel;
  • the building-sized computer at the Brussels HQ of the Common Market that everyone calls "the beast";
  • "prophecies" by Nostradamus or a supermarket tabloid psychic;
  • warnings about two-way mirrors in bathrooms;
  • most petitions that come your way via the internet;
  • every conspiracy theory;
  • the dying child who needs you to write/send money;
  • the person with a plant growing in their naval, ear, nose, other body orifice;
  • the Apollo moon landings were faked;
  • any story featuring aliens, especially abductions;
  • any story featuring specific religious, ethnic or political groups;
  • many (but not all) warnings about virus infections on your computer;
  • many (but not all) warnings about health threats.

Religious or Minority group Bunq: These are stories told to exorciate or make fun of an ethnic or religious group, perhaps so the teller can feel better about his/her own beliefs or ethnicity. Unfortunately, this kind of bunq can get out of hand, resulting first in ghettoization, and eventually in persecution. Typical:

  • that Christians (or some other group) once believed the earth is flat;
  • that [insert group] are all (a) liars (b) lacking in intelligence (c) sexual preditors (d) hypocrites (e) profiteers (f) tightwads and so on;
  • that [insert group] are earlier in an evolutionary sense, thus more animal than human;
  • that the Bible contains mistakes and cannot be relied upon;
  • that Christ was married and had children from whom present day European royalty are descended.

Pranksters, April Fools, and other liars: Supposedly April Fools' Day originated when Gregory reformed the Julian calendar, adjusting the day of Easter, and moving New Year's Day. Those who forgot, or ignored the new calendar were issued phoney party invitations or otherwise mocked, commencing an enduring tradition. A good April Fools' prank costs nothing and is harmless yet provokes the recipient ("gowk" in Scotland) to plan massive retaliation the following year.

What newspaper editor has never published an April first photo of city hall burning down? The author (church treasurer) once called his pastor on All Fool's Day to ask him how many words were in his average sermon, so he could correctly compute the word tax. Another time, he warned his victim for weeks ahead of an impending prank call that fateful day. When a very British accent announced a collect call from the U.K. at 0900 on April first, the mark gladly accepted the charges, bantered for some time that "no, you're not really in England, not really in Nottingham next to the statue of Robin Hood." Indeed, he didn't believe it till he got the phone bill. The author is also notorious for fake April columns of a slightly subtler sort than "Apple takes over Microsoft" or "Computer becomes self-aware". Glorious bunq!

The internet is rife with bunq stories about Microsoft buying Rhode Island, Alfred E. Neuman running for President, daily life on the island of Sans Serif, Elvis meeting Adolf in Argentina, and the like.

Of more historic note were Orson Welles' famous "War of the Worlds" broadcast, whose Martian invasion of Earth proved too believable for some people, the 1985 Sports Illustrated story by George Plimpton on Hayden "Sidd" Finch, supposed former Harvard student and Buddhist monk whom the Mets had at their spring camp.


Spoof papers and other academic hoaxes: At that same Nottingham meeting, the author slipped into the Canadian position papers a bunq article entitled "Contributions of Computing Science to the Theory of Big Game Hunting." The chairman had a tough time making it through the meeting with everyone snickering. Chances are a paper with a title "Canine Psychology and Bearded Women" or "On the Chemistry of an eBook" is a hoax. More serious are the papers that are rushed to publication to support funding or tenure applications, but which later turn out to be spurious or perhaps wishful thinking.

One of the more famous incidents involved the 1989 publication by Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, chemists at the University of Utah, who claimed that they produced a fusion reaction at room temperature. Their experiments could not be duplicated, and other scientists heaped opprobrium on the unfortunate researchers. Later, it seemed there is indeed a measurable effect under some circumstances, but it appears to be a slight one of no great commercial value, and its exact nature has yet to be determined, though it may not be fusion per se.


Supporters of Biological Evolution have, interestingly enough, perpetrated some of the more famous scientific frauds, such as the Piltdown and Nebraska man and other fake (or wishful thinking) fossil hoaxes. One of the more enduring was devised by Ernst Haeckel who promoted his theory of embryonic recapitulation by faking photographs of embryos to make them look similar. Despite this fraud having been debunked many decades ago, the fake pictures are still being published by Biology texts. One of the more spectacular recent frauds committed in China against National Geographic and published by them in November 1999. Dinosaur and bird fossils were assembled in juxtaposition and passed off as an important new evolutionary intermediate. National Geographic apologized a few months later for being taken in, but could have avoided the problem with more due didigence in the first place, less rush to publication, and less willingness to believe what they wanted to believe.




Like what you see? Want to exchange links? Want to contribute original or attributed bunq? Contact Us. If we use your material, we'll acknowledge the source. We try to be careful about whose bunq we rip the covers from, so the lies we collect on this page will be either well-documented hoaxes or harmless pranks and send-ups. If you think something we put here is offensive to some identifiable group, let us know and we will consider whether to remove it.


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Updated 2011 02 22