At first I thought it was a misprint when I saw a four-bedroom house rental listed for less than half the market price, and for less than the two bedroom duplex apartment I share with my wife,
child and child on the way. After some not very astute detective work, we realized that it was likely a scam. There were a few giveaways – the real estate sign in the front yard with a plea not
to contact the realtor, the attempt to get first month’s rent and security without seeing the inside, the assertion that the owner had the keys with her while supposedly doing missionary work
somewhere in Western Africa – with a convenient link to the mission’s website. The scammer even went so far as to set up an email with the homeowner’s real name. I wondered if Lance Armstong had
found a second career.
Oftentimes when we hear stories of people defrauded by scammers, we wonder how it is that anyone could believe something so preposterous. A benevolent Nigerian prince would share $5 million for providing bank account information? A pregnant woman can go for months without realizing it? That idiot thinks they are a good driver?
We fool ourselves into all sorts of outlandish beliefs. Cheap, four bedroom house rentals are possible because I am a good person. That Nigerian prince will split the money with me because I am too smart to fall for a scam. I ate an orange at 8:30 am therefore I cannot be pregnant.
But our beliefs get shattered along the way and we either double down on them or let logic win out. It is physically impossible for an elderly diabetic in a red suit to visit every child on Christmas Eve with “handmade” toys. Sooner or later every child learns this. By the time Lance Armstrong offered his non-contrition in the prime-time Oprah confessional, after years of doubling down and bullying, most people had flushed their Livestrong wrist bands. And then there is Alex Rodriguez, recently alleged to have been taking PEDs when he was supposedly off them. A-Rod. A-Roid to anyone outside of New York. A-Roidbatross now that he has five years left on his PED grown contract. It should be enough to cast doubt on any outsize achievement. Perhaps Babe Ruth had access to a secret supply.
For a short period of time it was nice to believe that we could pay less for more (four bedrooms would have been really helpful with 2 kids!), but in the end logic won out over belief and the supposed missionary is likely out performing the charity work of separating a fool from his or her money. If the scammer threatens you, it might just be that Lance Armstrong needs the cash more than you do...