Show Me the Money!

You see a lot of pass-alongs on Facebook or elsewhere on the internet that ask if you would live alone somewhere or perform a socially unacceptable act for $250,000, $500,000, $1,000,000, or even more. The place can be a haunted house, a remote island or a cabin, or another isolated location. Often conditions are specified, such as no phone, cable TV, or internet. Or the poster will ask if you would streak through a crowded mall for a large sum of money.

I always respond, “Show me the money first and I’ll consider it.” This is a facetious reply, but honestly, no one is going to actually pay you money to do any of these things. They only want a response of yes or no. While this is probably relatively harmless, it could also be a form of like-farming or an attempt to make the post go viral.

Like-farming is an attempt to build up the statistics for a particular company, group, or organization in order to demonstrate their popularity. Why is this important? Radio stations, for example, often post memes to entice people to respond so that they can tell prospective advertisers how vast their audience is. I prefer not to encourage them, even if I have a strong opinion on the bogus offer or other pass-along. I see these sorts of offers all the time, so they must draw a lot of likes and comments.

The opposite of this are memes that show a product or service, usually an unusual or unlikely one. The response to this is often “Shut up and take my money,” sometimes abbreviated SUATMM or SUTFUATMM (for added emphasis). Elaborate Lego sets featuring popular media figures and locations like Babylon Five or the Space Shuttle (with astronaut Lego-people) are examples of this.

Of course, there are also online scams that want you to say SUATMM, but give you nothing in return. Or they may offer a product that looks fabulous in the photo but proves disappointing or worse in real life. (I’ve fallen for a couple of these, where the product was the wrong size or of inferior quality. They said they allowed exchanges or refunds, but I would have had to ship the item back to China or somewhere. But I digress.)

The exemplar of this kind of scam is not an ad for a product, but an email, IM, or other solicitation for a too-good-to-be-true opportunity – a never-fail investment opportunity or the notorious Nigerian prince lure of easy money, if only you transfer a sum of money from your bank account as some sort of fee. (Does anyone still fall for this one?)

One email scam that I encountered was the one where you get an apparently sincere plea from a friend who is stranded in some foreign country and needs you to transfer money so he or she can get home. In my case, it was remotely possible because the friend was said to be stranded in Germany, and his daughter was living there. A quick call to the friend’s wife exposed the fraud.

(One time, I was the one actually stranded abroad and had to appeal for help. When I made the request, I included a sentence that proved I knew a really obscure detail about the person so they could verify my identity. The person came through with the loan, for which I was intensely grateful. But I digress again.)

There are also telephone scams that can catch the unwary. A relative of mine fell for the one where he got a phone call purporting to be from a large computer company, saying that his machine was infected with a virus and he had to pay them to get it removed. He actually fell for it. Another person I know got the same kind of call and didn’t. Another version has the caller pretending to be the IRS. The IRS doesn’t call anyone. They send threatening letters.

It’s sometimes fun to toy with phone scammers. Once you realize it’s a bogus offer or other trap, you can say, “Does your mother know what you do?” or whisper, “It’s okay. I moved the body, but there’s blood everywhere.” They hang up right away. A guy I knew would tell phone solicitors that the person they were asking for was dead or in jail. Once he even told someone who was selling dance lessons that he was paraplegic. If you can actually start sobbing while you tell the story, you get bonus points. Extra bonus points if you can make the person on the other end cry or add you to a prayer chain.

Actually, I would live in a haunted house or a remote location. I would probably want a phone in case of emergencies, but as long as I had electricity so I could charge my e-reader, I would be fine. And presumably, the place would have to be accessible via Amazon or UPS so I could order supplies. Or, if it’s a remote island, a boat that comes once a month with supplies and a delivery person that I could shanghai for a cup of coffee and a chat. And conjugal visits from my husband.

But I don’t think I’d streak. I have that dream all the time where I’m naked in public. The depressing (and vaguely insulting) thing is that no one notices.

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