Monday, August 10, 2009

Small cons downtown: how to steal from the poor

There are small Ponzis and small cons that seldom make it in the justice system: in Savannah where I live, for instance, small crimes against poor people are committed every day. There is this nice couple trying to sell some exotic fruit juice to a small restaurant owner: it cures cancer, they tell him. I raise my head over my coffee to explain that they have no right to say that. They are defensive: it is on the list of qualities that the juice company manager has recommended to them. They show me the list in good faith: of course it has no name or address on it. I explain to them that they can be sued, not the manager, because they cannot prove the paper came from him. The fruit in question not only cures cancer, but every disease you can think of such as the flu or broken bones.

A more successful con around here is a pyramid: you pay 500 dollars for a lecture (usually about how to get rich), then you find three people who will pay you 500 dollars for the lecture, and your benefit is a thousand bucks. It has to work, right? If it does not work, it is your fault. The victims do not even know that it is an illegal scheme, so they do not complain.

The worst financial crime in Savannah is against black women, although an old white lonely woman is a likely victim too. Why black women? I guess there is in some families a cultural bias, a make-believe that the man has more authority, more competence than the woman. Any woman who believes it is prone to become a victim. Here is how the con works. Imagine a situation, very common around here, where the woman is working and the man is mainly going out and spending money, if he makes any. When comes the time to buy a house, the man says: "Let me take care of it. I know how to deal with this". The sale happens with the name of the man on the deed, no trace of the name of the woman. Later, divorce or separation occurs, and the woman discovers that she has no right to the house. Cases like this are difficult to prove. I have seen four cases without making any research, so it has to be common.

No comments: