My friends, by the time you read this, I will be rolling in cash. 

A week or so ago, I was lazing around in my home office at 2 in the morning or so when I heard a bunch of emails come rolling in on my desktop computer. 

Ding, went my email notification sound. Ding, ding, ding and several more dings after that. 

Thinking maybe I’d somehow developed an off-hour fan club, I rushed over to my machine to receive the adoration. But no. What filled my inbox at this odd hour were a whole bunch of notices advising me that I’d been approved for a variety of personal loans. Big loans! I could practically name the amount and it would be given! 

These notices kept coming for nearly an hour: Ding! Ding! Hey, look at the amount of THIS loan! Ding and ding some more! 

There is a distinct variety of panic that comes with the realization that some professional scammer may have stolen your identity and that at this very moment, he or she might be running around in cyberspace, absolutely destroying your finances and good name. 

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But that’s not what this was. Whatever this particular scheme involved, the weasel behind it undoubtedly wanted me to click on one of the helpful links included in those emails. “Click to confirm your loan application!” one link advised. “Find out more!” enticed another. 

My first impulse was to respond to each company directly: “Dear chumps,” I might have written. “I have a drum set, a motorcycle and a pickup truck. The hell do I need a loan for?” 

But of course, you don’t want to do that. Clicking on a scammer’s link is like inviting a vampire into your home. Now they’ve confirmed there’s a real person behind that email address. Now they’re one step closer to nudging you to give up your personal details, your credit card information, your bank routing number . . . 

There is also a known tactic where scammers will flood your email box with messages like these loan applications to hide a single email pointing to a genuine financial transaction. For instance, the ploy may be used to distract you from a legitimate email from your bank or credit card company alerting you to potential fraud.

The people who perpetrate these kinds of scams are as brilliant as they are evil. They spoof websites and letterheads meticulously so that their emails look perfectly authentic at a glance. 

They know that somewhere out in the wide world of the web is a 80-something man or woman too new to the internet to understand that they shouldn’t respond to a notice claiming there’s a problem with their bank account, or that message warning that their antivirus program is expiring and they need to act fast to protect their personal data, or that urgent note from the electric company advising that their power might be shut off immediately if they don’t respond at once. 

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If I were an elderly woman — and let’s face it, I probably will be some day — chances are good that I would have responded to those loan applications out of panic alone. If the person on the other side needed to confirm my Social Security number, where’s the harm in that, if it will make this irksome problem go away? 

Oh, you need my bank account details so you can send me a refund? Hold on, dear, I keep all that information in a little notebook stashed inside my purse. 

A person doesn’t have to leave the house anymore to get mugged, is what I’m saying. These scams are coming faster and faster, and as technology improves, so do the talents of the wretches behind all this bad business. 

You hear stories about people getting their savings wiped out because they fell for the bit and you discover there’s an extra level of hatred in your heart for the modern-day plunderers who devise these schemes. 

You can forgive an older person who waxes on about how much simpler things were back in the day. Are they wrong? 

In a time not so long ago, all you had to do was keep your doors and windows locked, have an alarm system and maybe keep a Mossberg leaning against a wall in your bedroom to keep the bad guys out. To get to your goods, a thief had to find access to your house and if you made that too hard for him, the scoundrel would just move along and find another target. 

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These days? Every crook in the world has easy access into your home and all the creep needs is a crawl hole no bigger than the fiber optic line that runs in through your basement. The criminals coming at you in this innovative new age are shrunk down to the size of bits and bytes and they come beaming in from satellites floating thousands of miles above the earth. 

Like the aforementioned vampires, they have to be invited in and we invite them every day just by opening up our email. 

And even by today’s standards, the many email scams out there seem primitive in comparison to some new stuff coming down the wire. 

Picture the scene: It’s late at night and your phone rings. On the other end of the line is your beloved granddaughter pleading for help. I’m in trouble, Meemaw, and you need to send money at once. 

You know it’s your granddaughter because you recognize her voice. Only, it’s NOT her voice, it’s a stunningly convincing fake generated by artificial intelligence. Whoever it is behind THIS particularly heinous scam only needed a few snippets of your granddaughter’s voice — captured from a video posted on Facebook or Instagram, perhaps — to create this near flawless mimicry. 

Of COURSE you’re going to send money, and by any method requested by that frightened, familiar voice on the end of the line.

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God only knows how many people have been swindled by this one and the scammers are perfecting the scheme all the time. 

Now there is publicly available software capable of manipulating video as effectively as it can manipulate a photo or a voice. Artificial intelligence has entered the fray, and the black-hearted swine behind all these money-grabbing plots know how to use it to maximum effect. 

In case I haven’t made it abundantly clear over the years, I have a special loathing for thieves of all kinds. I have an extra strong disdain for those people whose sole ambition in life is to take what others have worked hard to attain. Whether it’s the jackass crawling under your car to hack off your catalytic converters or a shadowy figure sending your granny phishing emails from New Delhi, I despise them all. 

These days, the bastards don’t even need to use crowbars and lock picks to commit their dastardly deeds. They don’t need to endure the gut-churning tension of crawling through a dark window and wondering if there will be a snarling dog, a baseball bat or the business end of a shotgun waiting on the other side. 

In our brave new world, these honor-deprived punks can work from home in their pajamas like everybody else. They just send their hoax emails out to thousands upon thousands of people and wait for the bites. It’s a numbers game and the numbers favor them. And the scams I’ve described here represent only a tiny fraction of the myriad ways these fiends will come at you.

We don’t have the time nor the space to talk about various schemers who’ll make their approaches on Facebook or other social media. I no longer have the room to discuss the various romantic schemes in which the lonely and broken hearted are targeted on dating websites.

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There are shopping scams, bogus job offers, and rental schemes behind which faceless con men wait for you to just make a small mistake so they can begin feeding on your lives like piranha. Scareware, ransomware and malware, oh my!

And to think that not long ago, all we had to worry about were handwritten letters from Nigerian princes promising big money for help moving their fortunes around. 

It all seems so safe and harmless in comparison with today’s high-tech flimflams, I almost miss those days. 

Those really were simpler times, Babushka. They really were. 

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