Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Granny Fraud and Facebook

Mrs. Buce reports that her excer-swim classs this morning was all agog about "Granny Fraud," as in "hello Granny, please send $10,000 and please don't tell Mom and Dad"--the call coming, of course, not from the child, but from some rapacious lizard in a sunlit piazza halfway round the world.   The consensus seems to be that it's goin' round: everybody in the pool seemed to know somebody who (or whose sister, or cousin, or girl-the-nephew-is-engaged-to's brother) has fallen victim to this crude and venerable scam.*  The unanimous consensus: it's Facebook.

Is there a rash of Granny fraud?  Possibly.  I get 71 Google hits, which I guess is not quite zero in Google numbers, but it is pretty close to vanishingly small.  And not all of them are on point; at least one seemed to address granny defrauding Medicare, and at least one, the  fraud of (alleged) President Steve Dunham Barack Obama's granny in concealing the (alleged?) President's true parentage.**  Of course not every report will use the snappy monicker.

But if there is an epidemic of granny fraud, is the internet, and particularly Facebook, to blame?  Possibly, but how?  I have 100-odd Facebook friends; I can't think of any whose profile says "here is the name of my Granny, and here is her phone number."  What, exactly, does Facebook offer a troller not offered by conventional sources?  I think the range of possibilities includes these:

1) There's an epidemic of granny fraud.
2) It is caused by Facebook.
3) There's an epidemic of people who see an event they don't like and blame it on a technology they don't understand.
4) 1) and 2)
5) 1) and 3)
6) Other

I guess 3) can stand alone, but not 2). Are there other possibilities?
*Actually, Mr. and Mrs. Buce do know a recent victim: we could give you particulars if we were so disposed, which we are not.

**Sarcasm.  But at the risk of getting sidetracked, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he did pass as "Steve Dunham" in some company, and some point in his life.   This fact does not, in my mind, rise to the dignity of a Constitutional infirmity.  


Anonymous said...

More or less on-topic, I noticed that two of the alleged donors to John Edwards' 'issue' were quite elderly. Which reminded me of a family acquaintance (long deceased). At his wake, his son said the father had been picked clean in his declining years by political fund-raising phone calls. (Republicans, in that case.)

It may be more common than you think.

dilbert dogbert said...

Years ago when my step mom needed full time care, the wife and I spent an afternoon going through her stuffed mailbox and writing deceased on all the return envelopes from the fraudsters. I especially enjoyed the mail from the rethuglican party. All envelopes were re stuffed to the max to increase the mailing costs.