What does it say about us when a scam like paying $20 to gain access to ‘free money’ takes the countryside by storm?
The latest scam, or at least the latest to be reported, involves something called ‘My Bill Assist’ and it appears to be operating around the country. It has taken its share of victims in the Milwaukee area. The Journal Sentinel exposes this in today’s Section B.
As is often the case, the lure of something for little or nothing works with enough people to make the effort worthwhile for people willing to run a scam. In this case, there was an office address provided and there was a website. People were expecting that they would receive loans to pay their bills for the $20 they paid. This ‘program’ was supposedly operating with government money and the word-of-mouth campaign spread the word over the past three weeks. One person interviewed for the story talked about going to the office of this organization at 2821 North 4th Street to get an appointment to complete the application and pay her money. She said “The word of mouth just spread it everywhere. I heard one lady say ‘Go get the $1,500! It’s free money!’”
“At first we were told it was from President Obama, who had put up some funds for people who were having trouble with their bills. When we got down there, it was a different story. Everyone seems to think it was government funding they had to help thousands of people pay their bills. They said, ‘It’s not a scam, you don’t have to pay it back.’ Stay in the membership at least a couple of months, we would be able to borrow again, I think every five to six months.”
What does it say about us?
It says that we have succeeded in creating a large number of people who, having no jobs or only short-term jobs on and off, have come to rely upon the government to keep them fed, clothed, and with a roof over their heads. Programs to help people in need have grown in numbers over the past few years as people in need have multiplied. We have succeeded in creating this problem by creating program after program that had only the provision of services and assistance to a large group of people as the core driver. The programs, too often, had few if any requirements attached other than need. The programs didn’t do anything to help people develop the skills to be able to fend for themselves. Instead, the programs that were designed to help people created a sense of dependence to the degree that people quit working all together since they had learned they’d be given what they needed.
Further, we created the environment in which scam artists willing to take advantage of anyone, no matter their needs, could thrive. This scam was aimed at people who had at least $20 of disposable money in their purses or pockets. Those behind it knew their intended market and made their appeal to people who were already accustomed to programs designed by the local or state or federal governments to help them.
You and I are responsible in that we have watched as people in need were made evermore dependent upon government, and therefore lost touch with taking care of themselves because the programs would always be there. The scam artists know this is prime ground for their ‘too good to be true’ deals, because many of the real programs that exist are of the ‘too good to be true’ variety…and yet they have continued for years.
It may not be possible to change this at this point. We may very well have crossed over the line of no return for the generations of people we have made dependent upon us, and by so doing made them more susceptible to contemptuous scams such as this one.