By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — Appalling.
There is no other way to describe what happened to a 90-year-old woman at Shannondell. She was scammed out of $8,500 dollars by someone pretending to be from law enforcement.
She was asked for bail money for her grandson, who she was led to believe had been in a DUI-related accident.
Unable to drive, the woman gave the envelope of cash to someone impersonating a police officer.
This is an example of a scam – one that has been used elsewhere around the area recently – that has several slight variations and is not uncommon.
It is illegal, on many levels, and we can all hope the guilty party – or parties – eventually get the old book thrown at them.
There are, however, legal scams – or shams – that go on every day.
We are all victims, but we just don’t call timeout long enough to catch our collective breath from the daily grind to realize it.
Here are four examples – a Mt. Everest, if you will – of the most egregious:
1) Printer Ink – So, you just bought a printer and some sales kid with gigantic earrings and a nose ring (ehat happens when they sneeze?) had you temporarily insane enough to believe you got a great deal.
Whatever you plunked down for the printer was merely a down payment on the tree-killing process that is print-o-mania.
The payments on it come in the form of continual, and seriously marked up, purchases on ink cartridges that always seem to run out all too quick (a good portion of the ink in them is used up before it even reaches the paper).
And, as we become increasingly reliant on computer printouts, as opposed to pen and paper, running out is inevitable. There is no such thing as universal ink that works in any type of printer, and no generic brands.
In order to function in modern society, the companies – like Arab sheiks setting the price on oil based on their whims – set the price to make a humongous profit off the dire need to replenish our ink.
Some say to join clubs where you get a slight markdown, or buying laser printers that are significantly more expensive.
These amount to ways to treat the symptoms without finding a cure.
After posting on Facebook that this might be one of the biggest rackets going, a friend who works behind the curtain in the computer business was quick to affirm my accusation.
He said: “I’m going to say that detention and separation of immigrant children at the border is the biggest racket, but this one is basically brazen theft. It’s akin to (drug) pushers giving you your first hit for free.”
2) Dog Licenses – This one is a bit like acid reflux, the way it keeps coming up.
Once a year, in November or December, I get a reminder that Rex needs to have his dog license renewed.
Man, what a stone-cold racket.
It’s not like I don’t already have my bases covered. Updated shots? Check.
Rabies shot? Check.
Microchipped? Rex is too lazy to run off, so no check mark needed.
What do I need this annual piece of paper for? Anyone? Anyone?
Into whose pockets does the fee go? Anyone? Anyone?
They need to have a record of my rescue dog’s existence because … why, exactly?
Thing is, I cannot take him to doggy daycare, let alone board him when we go away, so I have no choice but to submit.
I recently mailed in my annual fee, and I’m still waiting for e-mail confirmation. Certainly not coming as fast as the e-mail reminding me to pay it.
Perhaps Montgomery County Treasurer Jason Salus can provide some answers.
3) Prevagen – When they first created the term Snake Oil, I think they had this stuff in mind.
The makers of this supplement claim it comes from … jellyfish oils, and “may improve memory” (note the qualifier of “may” in there).
The ads say it is “pharmacist recommended.” By what pharmacist? Give me a name.
This one is personal. My mother won’t relent about this stuff. She resides in an assisted living facility, and I’ve gotten more calls about replenishing her supply from the staff (surely do to her nagging them) than when she has been seriously ill. Only time I ever heard from her doctor, other than when she was in the hospital, was when she had him call me (he couldn’t prescribe it because it wasn’t … a real medicine).
His basic point was that it is harmless so, if she wants it, get it.
Problem is this: At $2 per pill, with no hard proof it does anything, it is quite harmful – especially to those on fixed incomes.
And then there is this, the FTC and New York Attorney General’s office filed suit against the makers of Prevagen, Quincy Bioscience, LLC. The suit claims the company “made false statements about their purported clinical evidence in their advertising.”
Because it targets older people, claiming to help with “mild” memory loss due to aging, are they any worse than those who bilked the grandmother at Shannondell out of her money?
The only difference is that this is a slow bleed, as opposed to a one-shot deal.
4) Bottled Water – Surely you have gone into a restaurant and they ask you if want bottled water (at a price) or tap water?
Choose the tap water, please. If the waiter or waitress — with gigantic earrings and/or a nose ring (still want to know what happens when they sneeze) — sneers at you like you have no class, it’s their problem.
With the exception of a mere few cases, bottled water has proven to be a total sham. It’s just tap water dressed up in a labeled bottle.
Considering that blind taste tests show that participants cannot tell the difference between bottled and tap water, it is like paying for a bottle of air to breathe — as opposed to just breathing it.
According to a 2017 article in Business Insider, we spend roughly $100 billion per year on bottled water (more than milk, beer and now soda).
Meanwhile, it is estimated than 90 percent of the plastic bottles are not recycled, adding to the environmental nightmare.
A 2009 documentary film “Tapped” – made to expose pollution in sea water — laid out the damning case against the scam of bottled water.
Said actor Ed Begley, Jr.: “The film ‘Tapped’ illustrates quite clearly how we’ve been getting ‘soaked’ for years by the bottled water industry.”
This column appeared in The Times Herald on January 26, 2020.