America's Worsening Gullibility Problem

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A 73-year-old retired electronics specialist sat for a long interview in December in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, patiently explaining that the $300,000 nest egg he had just lost on a familiar Nigerian scam was really the fault of "corrupt governments" and not the dishonesty of his Nigerian "friends" who had no choice but to ask him to pay ever-escalating investment amounts. The man repeatedly insisted that his "friends" couldn't possibly be scammers, but toward the end of the two-hour interview, finally remembered that they "never did really explain how they got my name." [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12-23-03]

Former Harvard professor Weldong Xu, who was arrested in March for his alleged scheme to bilk colleagues out of $600,000 to fund a bogus SARS research institute in China, admitted to Boston police that he spent part of the money on what the detectives recognized as a traditional Nigerian money-laundering scam, although Xu aggressively insisted that it was a legitimate deal. Said Detective Steve Blair, "(The Harvard professor) never caught on." [Boston Herald, 3-31-04]

Todd Lorin Nelson, a 13-year employee of the Miami-Dade (Fla.) county clerk's office, was summoned for jury duty in April 2003, reported to the courtroom, and was quickly dismissed. However, according to police, he repeatedly called his boss over the next few months to say that he had been selected as a juror for a big case but couldn't talk about it (all the while drawing his $35,000 government salary), and it was not until October that the boss finally investigated, resulting in Nelson's arrest. [Miami Herald, 12-5-03]
 

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