UNIFRA – University of Fraud Scammersville College
“Urgent advice from the Police – Your computer is compromised. Complete the attached form to release your access to it”. You will, of course, suspect that this is a scam – at least until you get a call from ‘the Police Officer in charge of scams’ who advises you that it is indeed a scam. He tells you, very politely, that he can rescue you from it without needing any passwords. He will just need to see your identity confirmation (in Singapore your NRIC – pretty well public knowledge). He asks you to flash it to the camera on your mobile. You breathe a sigh of relief… as you fall into an abyss of identity theft or financial loss. Or both.
Internet scams now pervade every sort of media connection you can have. Phony telephone calls invade your waking – and often your sleeping – hours. False offers abound. Your bank’s logo and style of address are no longer any guarantee of genuine contact. I wanted to give a small sum of money ‘in memoriam’ to a bereaved daughter who completely legitimately asked me to route it through her brother’s account. It was a modest sum and I had already spent over an hour on the net trying to give it to the charity concerned 8,000 miles away from the recipient’s country. I didn’t know whether it was a scam or not. The acknowledgement was heartfelt. I still don’t know if it was a scam. I have bet on the probability that it wasn’t.
The United States plague of drug overdoses is being overwhelmed by the Small Package Delivery scam. The courier services cannot open, examine and test every package. Small parcels are accepted and delivered at face value. So we have an army of new silent, auto-mules for merchandise of illegal or dubious nature. Pornographers have long since known this delivery route. The CV has been the subject of fraud for many years. Padded qualifications, exaggerated jobs, letters of commendation, all have entered the realm of inventive imagination. Truth no longer merits any consideration, indeed is seen as a rather pathetic attempt at honesty.
So much so that there are now many occasions when people deny the truth to avoid the possibility of being considered phony. The need for courtroom proof of validity is starting to turn life into a perpetual legal bargain which soon breaks down into lie-bargaining – you tell this lie and I’ll tell the one you want me to. It is the legitimate child of plea-bargaining. Soon there is no trust at all. Society cracks, just as homes break, under lack of trust.
I lived through the “tests prove” era of advertising in my early career in the 1950s and 1960s. Snake oil, the placebo of the poor, became the regulated energiser of the rich, and then the thrill enhancement of the vacant. Clever became street smart became prove it became regulation. In the process, getting round the rules became ‘success’. Terms & Conditions grew from one legible page to dozens of font-size-3 pages of legal jargon too small to read, too long to persevere with and in too difficult a language to comprehend. The Dark Web is, I am told, now being conducted in much the same way as a University. ‘Pay to learn and lie to earn.’
AI is absorbing this as fast as we are creating it. Already a reflection of our knowledge, rapidly becoming a substitute for our thinking, it is influencing our standards more than we imagine. Children brought up on killing games find them unreal after a time, buy firearms where they can and start their own version – bang, you’re dead. Mobs assemble to violently protest against violence. Diplomacy becomes sneaky meaning by sneaky means.
It is a gloomy picture but out of the gloom can come many things of value.
An understanding of ‘reality’ can be enhanced by an appreciation of ‘worthwhile’. All the ingredients are there. We have an inherent gift of creativity which we have so far used more to create the unreal than to comprehend the true. Return to an event, an occasion, a place, a person you especially liked, enjoyed, relished, loved. It doesn’t have to be climbing Mount Everest. It can be something quite simple – in fact, often the simpler, the better.
Examine in more detail why it was special for you. Savor the tiny elements that made it unique. Shed a tear when it was sad, smile your own smile when it was fun, laugh out loud if it was hilarious, watch in wonder when it was breathtaking. Appreciate the things others take for granted. Discover your ability to care.
Care deeply for others and you will find that you are caring deeply for yourself.
That is truth, the foundation of humanity.
That is the blossoming of the flower of life.
As always, your comments, views, experiences and stories are tremendous rewards for our small efforts. Please send them to email@example.com. Thank you so much.
14 November 2023