When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

19 May 2007

"These people are gullible..."

The thieves operated from small offices in Toronto and hangar-size rooms in India. Every night, working from lists of names and phone numbers, they called World War II veterans, retired schoolteachers and thousands of other elderly Americans and posed as government and insurance workers updating their files.

Then, the criminals emptied their victims’ bank accounts.

Richard Guthrie, a 92-year-old Army veteran, was one of those victims. He ended up on scam artists’ lists because his name, like millions of others, was sold by large companies to telemarketing criminals, who then turned to major banks to steal his life’s savings.

Mr. Guthrie, who lives in Iowa, had entered a few sweepstakes that caused his name to appear in a database advertised by infoUSA, one of the largest compilers of consumer information. InfoUSA sold his name, and data on scores of other elderly Americans, to known lawbreakers, regulators say.

InfoUSA advertised lists of “Elderly Opportunity Seekers,” 3.3 million older people “looking for ways to make money,” and “Suffering Seniors,” 4.7 million people with cancer or Alzheimer’s disease. “Oldies but Goodies” contained 500,000 gamblers over 55 years old, for 8.5 cents apiece. One list said: “These people are gullible. They want to believe that their luck can change.”

Bilking the Elderly, With a Corporate Assist (New York Times, May 19, 2007)

Predators of all species instinctively seek out easy pickings: the old, infirm, weak and sick. It's true whether you're talking about lions stalking herds of wildebeest or human scum like this using computerized databases to identify easy marks for telemarketing and banking fraud.

A few people may eventually do some jail time for this.

I'd like to see them driven through the public streets with horsewhips first. After a fair trial, and after sentencing, but before their delivery to the Big House, where, it is to be hoped, they will enjoy a steady diet of institutional food and forced sodomy.

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