October 6, 2014
MarkBernstein.org
 

Scams

Brent Simmons is losing patience with all the silly internet scams.

And now, by my estimation, people have tried to scam me 693,500 times via email. (Assume an average of 100 scams a day for the last 19 years. These days it’s closer to 200 a day.)

Grifters used to have to work hard for a living. I miss that.

Actually, I suspect that grifters today have to work pretty hard. Sure, we all get thousands of silly fraudulent emails, and someone probably makes an occasional buck off them. The yield must be astronomically low, and I imagine the risks are considerable.

This is the problem that puzzles me about routine credit card fraud. Leaving the whole matter of it’s wrong aside, it’s generally stupid. On the one hand, you win and get $2500 in stuff you didn't have to pay for. On the other hand, you lose and get a few years in jail. It’s just not proportionate, not most of the time for most people. (Sure, there are times when you’d risk prison for two grand, or for Jean Valjean’s loaf of bread.)

Imagine if you could make an appointment with The Council Of Spam Operators. You say, “You have a business: you work, you make some money. But your business happens to be annoying my cat. Suppose I paid you some money to sit on the beach, or do anything else, and you stop annoying my cat. How much would it take?”

I bet the number would be shockingly low. I bet it would be far less than the cost of the agents the FBI employs to chase this stuff down, much less the cost of all the firewalls and spam filters and wasted disk space we all incur.