Putting the "artist" back in "con artist"

Fri, 08/21/2009 - 08:00
originally published in Filipino Globe, 2008
This month I received my very first scam text message when, out of the blue, an unknown sender informed me I'd just won the "Phil. Charity foundation's 23rd raffle draw worth of 560,000" and that I should "call dis # to exec. Dante A. Tan."
A few minutes later my mobile phone buzzed with a second message telling me to reply at once and while I was at it, to send a load of 150 pesos to the texter.
I responded immediately: I texted the sender to go jump in the lake. Actually, to be more precise, I invited him (or her) to seriously contemplate the nature of his (or her) mother's current profession.
I never got any replies, and it's only now I realize I might have been too rude and inconsiderate. Who knows, the scammer needed the money desperately -- to pay for remedial English lessons perhaps, or to help his (or her) mother's career. 
But in my defense, the main reason for my impolite reply is that I was appalled.. I was appalled at the scammer's technique. 
I mean, it was so crude and humorless. Don't con artists have any style?
They should know  I only listen to scams from quality sources, like Malacañang Palace. Take rice. Wait, I didn't mean take MY rice – get away from that cavan. What I wanted to say was, look at what's happening to rice. First the Arroyo government tells us there's a shortage, and then afterwards claims there's no shortage. But while officials are giving this reassurance, in the background you can see other officials frantically importing huge amounts of rice. 
And in the mean time prices are rising ominously. Of course, if they say it's ok, we should believe them, right?
Anyway, Filipinos who can't afford rice can always raise money selling their kidneys to foreigners. Doesn't that sound macabre and ghoulish? That's why government is taking action – it's announced it will regulate the trade. Probably to make sure that the foreigners will get only the finest quality internal organs.
If you find that depressing, get ready for some good news. In Geneva, a large Philippine government delegation proudly proclaimed an 83 per cent drop in the murders of activists and journalists in 2007. That means last year there were "only" seven "unexplained" murders. You can just imagine our officials last year excitedly rushing around counting mangled, bullet-riddled corpses and then shouting "only seven! Fantastic! We're so good!" Perhaps they even made a nice PowerPoint presentation with skulls in the graphs.
So there you have it: fewer Filipinos are being murdered, we're Importing rice and exporting kidneys – what else can that mean? Well if you listen to the government it means we will be a First World country in a generation.
Phone scamsters, this is what I'm saying: work a little more pizazz in your acts. Let's put the "artist" back into "con artist." Read the newspapers and see how the government does it. Soon, you'll have enough mastery of scamming to graduate from con school and you can even get a diploma. To learn more details of this exciting program, get in touch with me. But first send me a load of 350 pesos

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