Anatomy of the Scam
I deserved it. I'm usually pretty spry with these sorts of things, but just a few months ago, I got fleeced somethin fierce. The amount? Well... 30 bucks, but it's the slap to my ego and the thought that this has undoubtedly happened to at least a few other people that really fires me up. Anyways, here's the overview so you can learn the story of how the experienced web surfer had a pretty embarrassing wipe out:
In Nov, 07 a post on a fave blog of mine, crooksandliars.com, caught my eye. It was a short music video to the tune of Trent Reznor's "Year Zero"- some wild conspiracy theory stuff, but the editor manages to make it look slick, semi-coherent and entertaining. Overall, I dug it so I go to the guy's website to see what else he's got: http://artofmentalwarfare.com
Well what do you know? He's got a spiffy new blog, a good long post or two, and, for the true nuts, the book. Supposedly, it contained all the good stuff, the confessions of a covert agent about all kinds of dirty PsyOps they perpetrated upon the American people and the dark theories behind them. "David", the "author" and website creator, notes that this book has been in the underground for years and is just now going public. In fact, not even Amazon has a copy of this shit, it's too sinister and shadowy; it's only available for purchase from this site.
Well, I thought about it for few days: I'm a blog junkie anyways, why not throw down decent money every once in a while to get something crafty like this? I knew it was mildly shady, but the site seemed legit, even if it was new. Obviously this guy had put some time into cutting this music video and maintaining a website with deep and convoluted posts. At worst, I thought I would receive a xeroxed copy of a paranoid political science dissertation, or perhaps at least a couple pages of cathartic incoherent rants. So I PayPal'd the money to him and sat back to relax... (and did other stuff of course) for about 2 months.
So now it's January, and I'm like, WTF? I email this grifter and politely ask if he's sent the book yet. Much to my delight, "David" actually writes me back the next day and tells me that the book is to be released in late Jan. Ok, that part wasn't on the website, but at least the guy is responsive right?
Two more months go by, here we are, March 11. By now I've sent "David" multiple emails, each more angry that the last. No response. I'm ruined. Not financially, but egotistically. That fucker got me good. What a beautiful scam. He put hard work into the music vid and the few posts (his last one is 12/17/07). What really trips me out is that his writing isn't bad. Sure, it needs work and editing, but it pulls no punches and as far as rants go, it's refreshing.
As a writer, even a greedy fucker like "David", wouldn't you at least be a little interested in actually disseminating your work? Was he that lazy and that greedy to hype up a book he never really got around to finishing? I wrote him and told him that he had already won when I paid him. Now he's insulting me as well as robbing. I was willing to dish out my cash for his thoughts at a premium and he cant even give me something? Was the 5 bucks he saves on not actually shipping anything to me really that important to him? After all his hoopla and teasers on his web page was he truly that intellectually bankrupt? What a pig.
Like I said, I deserved it. I should've waited to see if other dumbasses (IE-me) got ripped off before testing my luck. Well, I'm that dumbass telling you to stay away from http://artofmentalwarfare.com
Actually, it's still up and is worth a click thru, if nothing else for an example of how to part somewhat smart people from their money. Yes, I still consider myself somewhat smart. And what of "David"? I suspect he's chuckling all the way to the bank. And maybe to hell, we'll see (I'm still pretty bitter about the whole affair).
On a side note, the brief email I received from him in Jan was an impressive move as it bought at least another month to lure in chumps before everyone starts to question again and word spreads about something smelly over at the old mental warfare place... In fact, it amuses me that that action was so orchestrated, so Rovian, the very type of guy he was railing against. This shows that again, this really is no amateur con man. He knows the tricks of the trade and he plays hard ball, much like our government. I wish that at least now that the cat is out of the bag, "David" will tell us all about this grand social experiment that he pulled off and it's motivations and operation (and, of course, how much did he rake in?).
That my friends, is the anatomy of a scam. I consider myself lucky it only got 30 of my hard-earned clams.
What do you think?