Sep 142010
Authors: Jonathan Kastner

College students are getting scammed.

Not in the usual way, where some of us hand over money in exchange for Bachelor of Arts with a focus in the history of enjoyable sitting positions. But by actual professional scam artists.

On Monday, the Collegian broke the news that people were being burgled by fake non-profit magazine saleswads (the politically correct form of ‘salesperson,’ when they do not count as people). They’d follow, ask for money and harass the students with emotional pleas or further lies.

There is hope –– saleswads can be converted back into people. Crime is often committed as a last resort, and scamming is no exception. People need money and jobs and, while self-employment is admirable, it’s really not making money for yourself so much as convincing other people to do it for you.

Scammers may not feel that they have hope. If employment is difficult for honest citizens, what hope does someone have if they are only an expert liar with no moral compass?

Below are several options. There are more. Many, many more.

Sales: this is pretty much what the scam artists were doing before. The big change here is that when a product fails to come through, or is not delivered as promised, there’s a team of people to blame for not developing it exactly as promised. It doesn’t matter how big this discrepancy is –– if you promised a way to turn human corpses into molten chocolate and instead have a dog grooming kit, it’s not your fault.

Customer service: In this position your ability to tell lies will be less valuable than your ability to sense a scam in progress.
Here’s a sample call:

Customer: “I’d like a full refund. My computer has begun to belch smoke and flame.”

You: “I am hearing a microwave beeping. Did you place the computer in the microwave?”

Customer: “What? No. Okay, maybe. I heard online that microwaves can power stuff, and I’m trying to go green. Can I have a new, better computer?”

Political strategist: Now first, let me be perfectly clear –– the (insert your political affiliation here) do not lie. Unlike the other side, which was quoted as saying, “It is my goal in the next election to revoke child labor laws.” Granted, those words may have been cobbled together from separate sentences, but that doesn’t make them any more or less true.

Get it? Tell people what they want to hear. The transition should be natural here.

Management: The basic notion is that you do as little of the work as possible, called “delegating” (not scamming), and get as much of the pay as possible. If you’re good at this, you can go higher and higher until eventually it loops back around to being illegal again.

At that point, however, the punishment also loops, and instead of going to jail, you are rewarded with billions of dollars and told to try harder next time.

Bought scientist: People occasionally need to quote research to justify their opinions. There’s two ways to go about this, and thankfully former scam artists are far more qualified for the more profitable of the two. The research will be quoted out of context and likely reworded to suit the purposes of whoever funded your study.

Let’s say a company whose main product was bacon-flavored gunpowder found that some of their customers were, somehow, dying. The numbers are bad, but thankfully, Baconsplosion™ is not intended for oral use, as the label clearly says. Also it’s lower in saturated fats than regular bacon.

Hopefully we’ll soon see the end of people earning money in a dishonest fashion. After all, it is unacceptable when someone uses false pretenses to get money they have not earned, and our society will not stand for it. After all, illegality is the same thing as immorality.

Johnathan Kastner is in his second year of his second bachelor degree, majoring in computer science. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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