… do they think I am? It wasn’t enough that for years I’ve received near-weekly emails from “Sister Beatrice” in India or “the honorable” something-or-other in the Republic of Congo, claiming they have millions of dollars and want to split it with me if I’ll just give them my bank account number …

Today I received an email professing to be from the U.S. Treasury Department, even from the Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner himself, announcing the remarkable news that despite the U.S. government’s growing deficit, he has no less than six-and-a-half billion dollars just waiting for me at the “First Convenience Bank,” and all that’s required for me to receive this governmental largess is “the cost of processing a ‘Fund Clearance Certificate,’ which is estimated to the value of $150.00 USD.”

It doesn’t take a linguist to tell that the email is not even written by a native speaker of the English language. Somebody has some spiffy computer skills, masking their spam scam with what appears to be a legitimate government address and sprinkling a couple of links to the Secretary of the Treasury’s web page. 

If the crooks behind the bogus offer think I’m going to follow their instructions to wire $150 to “Carol Gregori” in Weatherford, Texas, however, they are sadly mistaken. The truth, of course, is that they don’t expect me to believe it, or anyone else who possesses their full faculties — but the con artists know that if they send out a few million of these phony promises, there will probably be a few hundred folks who are no longer mentally sharp enough to recognize a scam when they see it. This has become a growing danger as increasing numbers of senior adults gain Internet access and just enough savvy to put themselves in danger. For some folks, as their faculties decrease over time, they become more and more susceptible to heartless thieves who will take them for everything they can.

More than a year ago, researchers reported that the number of malicious spam messages had reached 300 billion per day, and was rising rapidly. 

All of which goes to show that most anything good can be turned to harmful purposes. 

The trick, for those who follow Christ, is to look for ways that evil can be transformed to good. The Lenten season reminds us that Jesus has proven it can be done …


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