The Biggest Cons

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When I was growing up I often heard my dad use the expression, “There’s a sucker born every minute” which is credited to W. C. Fields. In the past few years this old saying has been truer than ever as some hard-working citizens have literally given away their life’s savings to thieves and crooks. I have no doubt that Bernie Madoff would never have been prosecuted except for the fact that he robbed the rich and powerful. They had the money and influence to see that he did prison time, whereas, I believe, had they been ordinary hard-working citizens he would have gotten away with no more than a slap on the hand. But enough about the rich and powerful. Following are some of the more popular cons that the “little” people have fallen prey to:
 
THE CELL PHONE

I am amazed at the prices people are willing to pay to have a cell phone. It costs to buy the phone, for a set amount of minutes per month, extra minutes beyond that, extra phones for family members, and it costs to receive a call as well as make a call. No matter what time of day or night, place or circumstance, “THE CELL PHONE MUST BE ANSWERED!” Not only is this rude to others but it is disruptive. Cell phones will ring at the most inopportune times and places. The voiceover factor makes phone calls a real chore. By the time you start talking you are just getting the message from the other end, and more often than not the call is disconnected before the conversation is finished. This is especially true in the hills of Tennessee. Cell phone reception is terrible. And then there is the safety factor. Recently The Oprah Show reported that there are more than five hundred thousand people injured and six thousand killed each year because drivers are talking, texting and e-mailing behind the wheel. The biggest excuse I hear for owning a cell phone is, “I might break down on the highway and need to call help”. My answer, “What did you do before cell phones”?
 
BOTTLED WATER
Last year we spent sixteen billion dollars on the Poland Spring, Fiji, Evian, Aquafina, an Dasani water brands! Now just ask yourself. Where else could you take a free natural resource out of the ground, bottle it, smack on a fancy label and make yourself a millionaire? Why, America, of course! The comedy team of Penn & Teller taped an episode of their show in a fancy restaurant and presented the customers with several bottles of water which they had filled with a garden hose in the back of the restaurant and crafted some fancy “high end” labels to stick to the bottles. They were invited to comment on the taste of the “gourmet” water. After each sample they used the words, “pure, glacial, pristine.” They were quite embarrassed when they were shown the close-up of the Dasani label which read, “Source: Milwaukee municipal water supply”. Time after time tests have been run on different water bottle brands and in a large percentage of cases the bottled water has not been any purer or healthier than plain old tap water.
 
Oh, and there’s the small matter of highway robbery: Ounce for ounce it costs more than gasoline, even at today’s high prices and it costs roughly anywhere from two hundred fifty to ten thousand times more than tap water depending on the municipal prices. Bottled water is the ultimate consumer sucker punch, especially considering the landfill waste caused by the plastic bottles. The whole phenomenon is beyond me.
 
THE COLON CLEANSE
Colonix, Bowtrol, Almighty Cleanse, Perfect Cleanse. These are a few of the scammers pushing the great “Colon Cleanse” movement. My sister-in-law fell for this one after watching a late night infomercial. Among the claims made: Remove pounds of undigested red meat in your colon which causes mucous build-up, a “dirty” colon can affect the lymphatic system and the biggest lie of all, “reduce your cancer risk.” One day while I was visiting in her home she said she wanted to “let me in” on a great product she had found. She presented me with a box of a powdery brown substance with a lot of paperwork and proceeded to tell me how it “cleansed the bowel, got rid of disease-causing parasites and helped with weight loss”.  Since I was a retired R.N. she wanted to know what I thought of this product. After turning it over and over a few times I finally found the ingredient list. There it was: Psyllium. I asked her how much she had paid for this system and she said, “$125.” I handed it back to her and said, “Congratulations, you could have bought Metamucil over at Wal-Mart for about eight dollars and had the same thing: Psyllium”.
 
Then, of course there are the internet scams and hoaxes which are sent to millions of e-mail addresses every single day. Many of them originate in the United Kingdom, Nigeria and Canada or some obscure off-shore island place. There are medical identity theft scams, PayPal scams, money laundering scams, overseas jobs and credit card scams, medical and hardship scams to mention a few. Most all of these scams are for the purpose of stealing your identity and thus your money. 
 
We are living in a world fraught with criminal activity. Beware of scams that seem too good to be true. They always are.

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