Thursday, February 07, 2008

One Born Every Minute!

When I was a kid, I read in one of my father's magazines, an article entitles 'Fifty Ways to be a Sap.' I assume it was an American magazine by the title and remember only one of the fifty ways mentioned which has remained in my memory ever since. It was 'A Sure Fire Way of Killing Ants.'
For one dollar, sent by mail in those pre-internet days, you would receive a small package consisting of two blocks of wood together with the instructions: 'Place the ant on one block, then smash it with the other.'
Even in my youthful innocence I could see the beauty of this scam. Firstly, the promised results were achievable and thus it could be argued that the contract had been fulfilled. Secondly, the amount of money involved was so small that nobody in their right mind would be prepared to go after the promoters.
It was a perfect swindle.
This came to mind when looking at one of the many and various internet scams that are blighting the network. Back in November I mentioned the so-called reverse pension plans that have sprung up to part the unwary or plain greedy with a few dollars, euros, pounds or whatever.
The most popular, if that's the right word, of these is one called the Global Pension Plan where, in return for 30 Euros, participants will receive 55,000 when the membership reaches 100,000. The closing date for this remarkable piece of fiscal legerdemain was originally August but was then moved to December and, incredibly, members were given the chance to subscribe for 250,000 additional pensions. From their promotional material:

“The Global Pension Plan is nothing more complicated than a simple Pension Insurance. Now, Insurance policies have been traded on the open market for years. In the same way that there are companies that will buy your outstanding Invoices at a discount giving you cash immediately and then they collect the full value from the clients. Your Pension Insurance Policy will be sold to an Investor at a discount, giving you cash immediately, and then they collect the full amount at maturity.
This is a simplistic view of a complicated and unique process developed by the GPP consortium. It requires 100,000 people for the plan to work and this is where you can benefit.
It costs just EUR 30 to register as one of the 100,000 and when that target is reached the scheme will be closed and you will receive EUR 55,000 ... as long as you are less that 67 years of age at that time or EUR 110,000 if you are less than 28. You can also receive EUR 2,000 for everyone you refer who joins in the 100,000 membership.”

Of course, neither the insurance company involved nor the principals in this scheme can be revealed and the sole contact the 'investors' have is by way of an entity named Stella who has an anonymous E-Mail address.
Claimed to be a Trust located in Lichtenstein, GPP's original instructions for sending the money were by way of Western Union to Inara Astica, Oksana Snetkova or Ivita Vingra, all of whom seemed to share the same address of Gertrudes 15-31/35 in the city of Riga.
Cheques could be sent to The Oceanic Trust at BCM Drawbridge House, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3XX, England, a maildrop shared with an unlicensed Somalian bank, Oceanic Bank.
Subsequently, payment options have been through various dubiously legal money exchangers and, as the funds still seem to be rolling in, further delays in paying out are in the pipeline.
These schemes are always promoted by 'cheerleaders' who post enthusiastic endorsements on the internet forums, in this case from as far to the west as Kelowna, BC to Europe and the UK. All work under assumed names.
But the chance of the punters receiving even two little blocks of wood for their money is no better than slim to none – and probably not even that good.


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