I just let an easy $5.4 million slip through my fingers. Foolish? Some people might think so. Because many Americans love a con job.

Recently, I received a letter from a “barrister” in London. It promised me the life insurance proceeds of the late “Dr. Darrell Perlstein.” I’d net $5.4 million after 10 percent went to charity, and the “barrister” and I split the rest.

Why me? “Darrell” and I share a last name and, though we lived in different countries, the same “nationality.” I assume that means Jewish. Jewish, however, isn’t a nationality. 

Was I tempted? Please! The premise was wacko. Also, a few small things stood out. Like the envelope bearing no return address and being postmarked from North Houston, Texas. And the letterhead in standard American size rather than the longer British sizes.

Still, con jobs amuse me—in their place. Like the email I recently received from “the son of a high Nigerian official” asking help in hiding his father’s fortune from the government. 

I get all those phony emails. Phone calls, too. One of my favorite phone tactics: the incomplete voicemail. You hear only the tail end of a message, and you’re supposed to call back to find out what important information you missed. 

Unfortunately, many Americans get sucked in by con jobs. Ever hopeful, the grifters keep fishing. A gullible individual, driven by greed, can lose a great deal of money. That’s a shame. But at least, the community and the nation don’t suffer.

Unfortunately, Americans fall prey to con jobs on a national level. Most alarming, they’re run or abetted by many of our elected leaders. Rather than monetary promises, these charlatans and the far-right media that follows/leads them, wield a vocabulary of powerful trigger words.

“Freedom” and “liberty” stand out.

These words often apply to the COVID-19 pandemic at the nation’s peril. Wednesday’s COVID deaths totaled 2,000. That’s in one day. America’s military death toll in the Afghanistan War was 2,400—over 20 years. Yet the principles of “freedom” and “liberty” are placed above common-sense measures to help stop the virus’s spread, which hits the unvaccinated hardest.

In the name of “freedom” and “liberty,” Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Texas governor Greg Abbott rail against local school and other mask mandates. Meanwhile, COVID stresses their states’ hospitals to the max.

Is Abbot a con man? He hails the Vigilante State’s new law banning abortion at six weeks and enabling anyone to sue anyone supposedly involved in a woman’s choosing to end a pregnancy. Texas even denies exceptions for rape and incest. Abbot’s explanation? Texas will take all rapists off the streets, so exceptions don’t matter. I suspect Texas still has rapists. He didn’t mention his approach towards ending incest.

Take a moment. Think about it. Then catch your breath. 

I like “freedom” and “liberty” as much as the next American. But I know when the greater good outweighs driving 85 miles an hour in a 25-mph zone. 

The letter from the “London barrister,” so transparent, made me laugh. Still, I suspect that this fishing expedition may hook a sucker. 

The cons foisted on America by ultra-conservatives make me want to cry. Our political grifters get electoral support in the tens of millions. The nation’s democracy and integrity pay a steep price.

Remember, you can order my new novel 2084 in softcover or e-book from Amazonbarnesandnoble.com or your favorite bookstore.

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  1. Joan Sutton on September 18, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    Excellent article, David. It’s just too bad that so many people can be taken in quite easily.

    • David Perlstein on September 19, 2021 at 3:37 pm

      Human nature, I suppose, Joan.

  2. David Sperber on September 20, 2021 at 7:51 am

    What about the extended car warranty? Love that one. Or issues with my social security?

    • David Perlstein on September 20, 2021 at 11:13 am

      There are as many scams, David, as stars in the sky or grains of sand by the sea.

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