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  • It blows me away to see greed take over someone's soul even when they kind of know an offer is too good to be true. It's especially sad when good people fall for hackneyed ruses like that of Mrs. Ruth James.

    My mother had various caretakers in her golden years. One was a sweet Hungarian woman named Ana who lived in a nearby town with her extended family. One day when I was visiting mom, Ana asked for my advice. She had been contacted via email by a man from Nigeria who said he had known her late cousin who had died in an auto accident while working in Nigeria. The cousin left a bank account that the Nigerian man wanted to help Ana claim. Instead of saying no thanks, she asked me how she should make arrangements to transfer the money.

    I explained to her about 419 scams and that she should forget this ever happened. Ana was sure this was not a scam because her contact knew so much about her cousin. She needed money – not for herself, she said – but to help her nephew pay for college and for an operation her mother needed. Even after I emailed her with information about how rampant such rip-offs were and how her situation fit the pattern precisely, she still thought this could work.

    The next month I visited again, and asked Ana whether she had given up. Hardly. It seemed she and the Nigerian were now phone pals, and in fact he had proposed to come to America and marry her. This somehow convinced her to wire him $2,000 in fees or bribes to the authorities to begin the transfer of funds, which he said amounted to $5,000,000. I asked her if she thought such a round number was likely, and she answered it was as likely as any other figure. Sigh.

    When she said he fiancée needed another thousand or two to prepare the transfer, I had to tell her that she had surely lost her $2K and I doubted she could afford to lose more. Reluctantly she told her contact that was all she could send now. And so he broke off their "engagement."

    This was not a stupid or a scheming woman. I found her caring, loving and generous. It was her faith in humanity that let her down.

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