I have come to the conclusion that a persons intelligence, no matter how measured, does not assist in making one more or less susceptible to scam artists. I say this because of a conversation I happened to overhear between two coworkers. It was not that I was intentionally listening in but since they were sitting in the next cube over from me during their lunch it was difficult not to listen in.
The subject had come up as to whether the one person had considered wearing contacts instead of glasses. Person 1 mentioned this since she had heard that wearing contacts was better for you than wearing glasses since she had heard this strengthened the eye muscles more the glasses would. Person 2 thought that Person 1 was going to mention laser surgery to which Person 1 replied:
"I would never let anyone use a laser on my eyes unless they said 'It's either this or you go blind.'". "I have heard a lot of good things about the procedure but I have also heard some people talk about the problems they had."
Person 1 then proceeded to talk about something they had just received in the mail which they said was supposed to be as good as laser surgery. It apparently involved wearing a set of glasses which had tiny pinholes in the lenses. This was supposed to make the eye muscles work more and thus become strengthened. The paper said it was guaranteed to work!
Huh? How could wearing a pair of non-prescription glasses with tiny holes in the glass in any way help your vision? The only thing that might possibly come from this is that the tiny holes would focus the image such that when the light entered the eye it would be sharper than it would normally be.
This type of advertising is as bad as the magnet craze that was around a few years back. I remember it well. There were the infomercials for magnet bracelets and inserts for your shoes. These products were guaranteed to help what ails you. Did you have carpal tunnel syndrome? Wear this bracelet and be cured! Do you have fallen arches? Put this insert into your shoes and feel the relief!
Come on folks, these products DO NOT WORK!. Quit being bamboozled into believing that these products do anything other than make their manufacturers money. If you have a medical problem, see a licensed physician.
Of course, scams are not limited to products. There are thousands of documented cases of people being taken to the cleaners by con-artists asking for money. One of the more interesting ones involved an email from someone indicating they represented an organization from an African nation which needed your assistance. The email went on to describe how your assistance (read money) was needed to help complete a project they were working on to get some of their citizens in the United States back to their country.
I actually received this email and read it. I laughed as I read it. Not because it was so poorly written, which it wasn't, but rather because as you read it, the amount they were asking for was so outlandish and because the problem they were describing didn't exist! If memory serves the amount they were asking you to send was around $2,000. I no longer have the email so I cannot be sure of the figure.
What makes this situation so astonishing was that so many people responded to this email. A federal investigation found that literally a thousand people had responded to this email. Now, do the math: $2000 X 1000 = $2,000,000. That's $2 million dollars that went into someone elses pocket. To top things off, because the email originated from a foreign country and the perpetrators could not be located, there is no way for these people to recover their losses.
So what does all this have to do with ones intelligence? Simple. The people who fall for these scams are not the ones we would normally associate with being gullible. Certainly some are the proverbial little old ladies who are led to believe such and such but the others are people who may have gotten straight A's in school and went on to lucrative careers. They could be towers of their community and masters of their domains. However, when they see such products being advertised or receive such mailings, their normally well-thought demeanors apparently go out the door. They are willing to believe anything that seems even remotely like it might work or is plausible without taking the basic step of finding out if there is any truth to the matter.
Oh, the person who I talked about at the beginning of this article, the one who would never let anyone operate on her eyes but would go ahead and buy a pair of glasses with holes in the lenses, she works in the computer industry. Very knowledgable about mainframes and related matters but when it comes to certain things, she is as gullible as a child.
I could go on about the numerous scams that are out there still taking peoples money and their victims. For example, there was the chemical engineer who lost several thousand dollars investing in offshore real estate wihout first checking to see if the broker was real or getting any information about the property he was investing in.
The point I am trying to make is keep two phrases in the back of your head at all times:
Buyer beware and
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you remember those two simple sayings, you will never be victim of a scam no matter who you are or what your intelligence is.