Ah, scammers, how we loathe them. They seem to have sprung up from the ground once the internet and email became popular. While the current email clients are very good at filtering out spam, and web browsers will warn you about most harmful sites, enough people fall for their tricks to make it a lucrative living. But this mass communication and the ability to reach almost anyone has been a very recent development. So how did they survive before then? Well, by doing the same thing they’re doing now. It was just a bit harder. Here I will detail how a few of the more popular scams were run prior to the internet. To begin, I start with one of the most well known:
Nigerian Banker has money he needs to get out of an account.
Setting the Scene: An astonishingly white man strides up the sidewalk in the midmorning and goes to a random suburban house. He is dressed like an out of work college student with jeans and a t-shirt that does not fit. He carries a briefcase that looks like it was put through the wash with the rest of his clothes. When he reaches the front door, he knocks.
<or not, the man proceeds regardless>
White Man: Good evening, sir or madam! I am a Nigerian Bank worker who is in need of assistance in securing some funds left by a recently deceased wealthy man with no will. With your help by way of monetary aid, I can bribe some officials and remove the currency from the account. You will be rewarded handsomely for your participation, to the terms of 15% the final amount. Please think of the children that I could help with all this money.
(At this point, one of three things happens)
<or remains closed if it never opened in the first place>
<man leaves, but will return periodically to see if anyone is home>
Person who answered door: No thank you, and please do not visit again.
<white man goes around to fellow scammers, telling them that someone lives at that house>
Person who answered door: That sounds like a sound investment. Here is my credit card. Take what you need, and get back to me when you have the money.
<person waves goodbye to the white man, then closes door>
<white man maxes out credit card, returns to house>
<white man is now wearing a fitted suit>
White Man: Thank you for your help. We are much closer to retrieving the money from the account, but a judge has placed a blockade in front of us.
<white man holds up section of white picket fence stolen from the neighbor’s yard>
White Man: We could persuade him to remove the barrier, but it would require another sum of money to bribe him. I remind you that the amount of money you will receive in return will easily dwarf your investment.
<person understands, and withdraws his savings from the bank to give to the white man>
<white man hoards money, returns to house>
<white man is now driven in a limousine, steps out dressed in a tuxedo>
White Man: With your money, we have successfully removed the judge’s blockade.
<white man motions to the neighbor’s yard, where the entirety of the fence is now gone>
White Man: However, some of my colleagues has grown wise to my plans. We could remove them, but hiring people to silence them is not cheap.
<white man makes a motion suggesting the slitting of throats>
White Man: Since you have been so good in aiding this operation so far, surely you can assist just a little bit more?
<person nods grimly, takes out a second mortgage on home, and gives the money to white man>
<white man invests money in stock market>
<white man does not return to house with promised money>
<person fails to pay mortgages, goes bankrupt>
<person’s house and possessions go to auction>
<white man buys person’s house for a third of its worth>
<white man sells person’s house at full price>