What if I told you that you could get free money? If such were actually the case, you would think I was crazy, or stupid, or a charlatan. Well I could have been all three, but I have no such promise in this post. Yet, if you have ever had insomnia and found yourself watching late night/early morning television you probably have seen this guy interviewing fine looking models about how to get something called free money.

There is this guy—let’s call him a fox—who speaks of something called free money. On TV, he interviews people who have enriched themselves with his methods. This man is telling you that you can make money by simply sending him money. What if I told you that a man can make a living on late night television selling such snake oil? You would laugh and be shocked, but put yourself back in the mid 1980s. It happened all the time, as it still happens all the time to this day online.

Of course, you may think who would ever have been snookered by such an obvious set up? Think of your own great grandmother back in the day. As a widow, she lives in a small town with only a landline. She receives a phone call on her landline without caller ID. On the other end is the voice of responsibility telling her that there has been a problem with the computer at her bank. The voice says that his name is, “Steve Johnson, Chief Account Officer at ****** Bank.” She says, “Oh Lord, I understand. I hear those computers have problems.” The voice responds, “Yes Mrs. Presnall, we are doing our best to protect your account, but you know how computers are. Luckily we’re here to protect your money.” She says, “Well I’ve known the teller Jimmy at the bank for last ten years and he has always helped me.” The voice says, “Yes Mrs. Presnall, Jimmy is one of our best employees, and he says hello. [ Pause ] But Mrs. Presnall, we’ve had some computer problems and we need to make sure that your account is secure. We need your account number to fix this technical computer problem. You know how it is.” She responds, “I don’t know about this.” The voice says, “Mrs. Presnall, we are trying to keep up with the latest in finance. We have hired a nice young man with a degree in finance from SMU—Ralph Jensen—and he knows how to make your money grow in a safe way. We’re using the computer to make sure your money is more secure. But we are having a small computer glitch. [ Pause ] Mrs. Presnall, you are one of our most important customers, and we value your years of loyalty to our bank. We like to think of you as one of our gold star customers.” [ Pause ] She says, “Okay, let me get my bank book.” A minute passes, and then she says, “Okay. You need the account number?” The voice says, “Yes Mrs. Presnall. If you please.” She says, “It’s XXXXXXXXX.” The voice says, “Thank you so much Mrs. Presnall. We will fix the problem and ****** Bank greatly appreciates your loyal business. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call. You know our number—don’t you? [ Pause ] We are open tomorrow.” She says, “I have a card. I know to call the bank.” The voice says, “If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us. We hope to get on top of this computer problem immediately.” She says, “I understand.” The voice says, “Next time you come in be sure to ask for Steve Johnson. And have a blessed day Mrs. Presnall.”

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