By Eric Le Roy
Content 18+ First it was the mademoiselles. Françoise Bardot. Monique Dubois. Charlotte DeGaulle. This was on Skype. They wanted me to accept their invitations to become le plus doux des amis, or something like that. Fingers gliding over and then affixed a-fondle my suddenly piqued genitalia, I considered these highly tempting offers.
For about a split second.
I knew what it was about. These days I am the most reachable man in the world. Whenever I try to access anything, I always get the Do You Accept Cookies routine and, to save time, I always say yes to everything. I assume this means they are sharing my personal information with all comers, but so far the hoped-for obscene phone calls and heavy breathing haven't materialised. But let it be said that I have nothing to hide. Not because my character is spotless, quite the contrary. My life is a Super Dome full of inappropriate thoughts and reprehensible opinions, entirely sympathetic to those with interesting fetishes and unacceptable resumes.
But since I knew (1) what les belles jeunes filles wanted, and (2) they had no interest in me as a human being whatsoever, I occasionally accepted an invitation, just to hear the sales pitch. Maybe it's a kind of sadism on my part. At my age, I know there is not the remotest possibility that I would appeal to these girls, so I enjoyed the passive aggressive action of pretending to be interested and suffused with naive assumptions, mon cœur nakedly revealed to such becoming and beguiling young mistresses-in-waiting, so that maybe just maybe ‘Tu es peut-être celui que j'attendais!' Yep, like that. (You can really talk some shit with a translator.)
I took a devilish pleasure in leading them to believe they were poised to fleece me out of my last goddamned coin. They spoke English of course, and no matter what you asked them, they answered the second you hit the send button because, of course, it's not a face-to-face conversation, and they already seemed to know the answers before I even asked the questions. They ‘cleverly' resisted my requests for a personal audience. Odd. No, not so odd.
Well, one finally did. She revealed herself to be sitting in a chair, and her hair was pinned up like the original Brigitte – and to tell the truth she wasn't bad. But you knew, you just knew that she was in the import-export business, and the conversation could be taking place anywhere from Marseille to Marrakech, from Tunis to Telgucigalpa; you also knew that standing behind her, to the side, just out of sight but ominously there, was some greaseball scammer – the ‘braintrust' behind the operation who was mistreating and disrespecting her in exchange for a slavering blowjob and ⅔ of all her earnings. Probably there was some illegal immigration angle thrown in.
Cutting it mercifully short, I told her I knew what the game was, and that I would soon hang up. Rather plaintively, now that the facts were on the table, she asked for money. I said ‘Mais non, au revoir, cherie'. But, in spite of myself, I felt sorry for her. I imagined that stripped of the House of the Rising Sun paraphernalia, she was probably an OK girl. What irked me was that she was nothing more than some slimeball's meat rack trick. Even when I was young and handsome, she wouldn't have fucked me. She would have preferred to give it all to some greaseball on a moped. Such is life.
I wasn't really prepared for Lucy. She contacted me on WhatsApp and introduced herself as a Chinese entrepreneur who had her own line of cosmetic products and simply wanted a friend to talk to. She had gotten my contacts from an acquaintance of mine in Hong Kong where she was herself based. That made sense because I have English students in Hong Kong as well as throughout China, especially in Shanghai and Beijing.
Lucy sent photos of herself and her colleagues, and it must be said she was a beautiful woman. Her pale Asian face displayed a radiance that I have gradually become accustomed to and admire more and more. She looked like a real ‘winner' as the Americans say in their final, decisive judgments of their fellow men and women. (This is the alternative to being labelled a ‘loser'. An asshole? OK. A motherfucker? No problem. A son-of-a-bitch? Hey, thanks for the compliment. But a “Loser?” Oh God Noooooo…..)
I never stopped wondering why she wanted to talk to me, but the running conversation went on for several weeks. She asked me a lot of philosophical questions and – me being a bit of a philosopher – I was glad to respond. I asked her questions in return and the answers came flooding back quickly, in fact, almost instantaneously….hmmmm… articulate, but always a little off key…….hmmmm….never quite answering the question I asked. I put in for a Skype conversation, Not convenient, she said. Maybe later. More photos. Some in Florida. Las Vegas. Hmmmm….
Eventually she asked me if I was interested in crypto currency, and already I sensed a sales pitch. So I decided to play along just to see where it would take us (or where she would take me). It wasn't that much later that she asked me if I wanted to invest. How much? A small amount for starters. $500 or $1000. Peanuts. I said No, thanks. Are you sure? No thanks. I could teach you how to make a lot of money. No thanks.
Next came Lily. Another Chinese Fox. Same rap. A slow hand, like you would imagine with the Chinese. Even when they are 100% fake, they remember to be modest and subtle in their charms. I communicated with beautiful Lily the same way I had with beautiful Lucy, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I must say that as with Brigitte Bardot and Catherine DeNeuve, I was thoroughly enjoying the process. One day the other shoe dropped.
“Do you know Lucy?” I asked in reply to the projected crypto currency venture. .
“No, who is Lucy?”
It's funny how you think you are getting to know them, even stranger when you begin to know certain other things.
My esteemed colleague Artem is a very clever agent indeed when it comes to a lot of stuff I know less than nothing about, and one of those things is Artificial intelligence. (I must say I am gaining ground.) Artem had created a male and female AI ‘entity' and asked me if I would like to put forth some questions to them, just to get a feel for the kind of AI ‘friends' that will likely define the future – and how such a conversation might unfold. By his own admission, the two characters were not flawless in design but good enough to give you the idea.
I enjoyed it, and I found myself relating to them as if they were real. I think I am one of those guys who could fall in love with a robot, and I know there are others like me. But that wasn't the strongest lesson learned.
I had an epiphany. So I went back and reexamined the messages that Lucy and Lily had sent to me: rapid fire, streamlined, articulate…and off base. Just a bit. Like a bit of misdirection. Appearing to answer my questions without answering them at all. I have to admit, a very strange sensation came over me, as if I had been locked in a room with draughty yet incongruously hollow sound effects, a place of ghosts and the wind of ghosts and the voices of ghosts.
It occurred to me that maybe Lucy and Lily were not real at all, and maybe for at least two months I had been looking at photos of women who existed somewhere, surely, but who were not attached to the messages I was receiving. Nor was I ever allowed to meet them in person. Lucy and Lily did not exist.
Truth be told, it made me slightly sad. Or, if not outright sadness, it left me shaking my head in a kind of bemused, perhaps forlorn, state of wonderment. And this is the weakness of people like me, and the people running the machines know it. I wanted them to exist. I wanted there to be a Lucy and a Lily. I have to admit it. I liked those girls. It's a damned shame they weren't real. I had the urge to keep messaging them, just to keep the illusion going a while longer – even to the extent of apologising for my reluctance to jump on the bitcoin band wagon.
Of course this was intermingled with a growing rage over the sheer heartlessness of it all. In a ludicrous, comic way, totally laughable if we speak of the coarse Haw Haws sparked by the unabashedly obscene – I had brought a soul to a place without souls. The dead zones of cyberspace. It was an insult to my being. I had been at least partially seduced – which is to say seduced utterly – by a Pandora's Box of Cosmic Crapola. Lucy and Lily were the Sirens of Algorithmic Nothingness.
They faded away, if it is possible for Nothing to fade. I congratulated myself on having sorted them out. Only months before I had been contacted by my friend Collette, wife of Mick of Manchester, assuring me that a small fortune awaited in an honorary pension fund; that indeed she herself had been a lucky beneficiary, and that all I had to do was click on a certain link (which she provided me) and follow instructions. Since Collette was a trusted friend, I did as I was told, assured by ‘her' that $10,000 dollars would be Fed-Exed to my very doorstep if I simply went to the nearest supermarket or pharmacy and bought a $500 gift certificate, then scraped off the covering to expose the numbers, then took a photo of it and uploaded it to my generous benefactors online – this being required to ‘activate' the system – after which they would deliver my fortune to my doorstep within 10 minutes.
Well, it all sounded way-y-y-y-y-y too good to be true, but, after all, my friend Collette had just told me it was legit and above board, hadn't she? Since I was receiving a plethora of messages from her, I decided to call her and thank her.
But she wasn't there. Strange. My wife and I went to the supermarket but there were no such cards for sale, which I duly reported to my new friends. They gave me other options, and said to call them in the morning. Instead, I called Mick, and Mick told me that his wife was in Greece and had been the victim of identity theft. In short, the messages I had been receiving on Collette's account was not Collette, but a team of scammers.
I rose in the morning and delivered a savage sermon of reproach. Let it be said that I am well-schooled in profanity, in fact I am a poet in the art. I specialise in the graphic details of boiled children, eviscerated mothers, and quivering bodies of offenders everywhere melting in great vats of bubbling. steam-shrouded soup. I assured them of shrieking deaths, and heartily promised them such a fate if they kept on. I am sure they laughed it off, but I never heard from them again.
Now I believed myself impregnable. I had defeated the armies of deceit: the beautiful women who were not women, and the cyber acrobats of the night with all their fireworks and promises of fortunes falling from the sky.
I told people just to hang on up on the enemy. I advised my friends how the secret was never to be engaged and not to bother with being polite. Be hard. Be decisive. Tell them all to fuck off. My hatred of these criminals grew but was put on hold by my belief that I had them figured out. There were just several basic steps which, if followed, would preserve the bank account and the sanity it tends to assure.
After all, I had known people who had lost everything. In particular, this disaster befell my Russian friend, an ageing woman and scientist in Moscow who was contacted one fine morning by people passionately and compassionately assuring her that her account was being hacked at the very moment of calling and that the only solution was for them to create a new account for her. But first she had to give them the numbers of her present account, the one which was now under threat. She wanted to call the bank, but her protectors shouted NO!!!! – no time for that, the criminals were at work in their mischief and only the greatest haste could cut them off.
So Natasha gave them her life savings.
Well, she was a 75 year old pensioner, lonely a bit, and trusting. Why would a bank full of such nice employees mislead her?
When she told me of this I screamed at her. Why? Why? Why would you do this for a succession of cooing voices on the phone? “Well, they sounded so kind and concerned, like they wanted to help me.”
They helped themselves instead.
I am an English teacher, author and editor. I am happy in my growing solitude with my wife, dogs and cat. We own our apartment and car, and we have plenty of everything. We don't travel anymore, Liubov and I, because of the world's problems, the exorbitant costs involved and the fact that we won't kennel our elderly animals and leave them distraught. We are happy, and I still work. The bank account is secure. Right? What could go wrong?
So, out of the blue I was offered an editing job which promised a rather big amount of money. In fact it was $3,165 for three days of hard work on an 80-page text. This should have been a red flag — and it was – but I figured they had just been extended an inflated disposable budget and wanted a good editor as an excuse to get rid of it. Something for everyone. So I agreed.
The text was a long and very credible article about women's rights in terms of pre and postnatal care, and issues involving menstruation and menopausal information and legal ramifications brought on by, who else, the ‘patriarchy'. I had heard it all before, this patriarchy stuff, but a job is a job, and I am a whore. So I went for it. Altogether, an enlightening article which nevertheless needed editorial work. In three days I had it. Meanwhile, another company contacted me, offering me a similar gig, only this time the offer was $4000. I chortled and said ‘What the fuck?” and said yes once more. What did I have to lose? They were going to pay me, not the other way around.
I was startled when I received exactly the same article. But, greedy fool that I had suddenly become, I saw a chance to get over. OK, I said to myself, I'll touch this one up a bit (I actually changed English spelling into American, and that was about it. Took me several hours.).Then I sent the packet back to them and received an effusive letter thanking me for my incredible work.
Ok, but now we entered the next stage. How was I to get paid? As it turned out, both of these clever correspondents had created what they called a ‘portal' with a ‘wallet' just for me at a bank which was only too happy to open an account for me so that I could receive my hard-earned salary. I was given a website which revealed a bank called united Guaranteed which had all the trappings of legitimacy, at least to my unguarded eyes. They even had the political correctness aspect downpat, with signs of racial diversity everywhere. What was there not to like?
I am not a technology guy, but I finally got on to the point where it offered me the chance to transfer money to my regular account. A great big maze of criss-crossing information it was. Impressed the hell out of me. But it was not smooth sailing, and I finally called my friend Artem .
“Artem, can you take a look at this?”
I am a very fortunate man that I have a friend like Artem. He is a banker, but there are a lot of bankers. Artem is more. Not only is he the creator of this blog, he is shrewd, astute, and hyper aware of the world's capacity to do naughty things, including fraud. He looked at the spread and cooly assessed it. He said: “Eric, are you sure you have money in this account?”
“Well I hope so,” I responded lamely.
“How much information have you given them?” He saw that I had been filling out the bank transfer boxes.
“A LOT,” I answered.
“Eric, this is a scam. Let me check these addresses.” He returned a minute later and said, “Eric, this bank does not exist. The addresses here lead nowhere. This is a scam.”
I cleared my throat. “What can I do?”
“Go to your bank first thing in the morning and have a block put on your account.”
I did so and my account is secure. But I could have lost everything. I am an old man and if I lost my savings I would probably have a heart attack. I wasn't so smart after all, and Artem saved me.
I would like to say in conclusion that this form of fraud is getting worse and worse. The main culprits seem to be in Russia and Ukraine, but in fact they are everywhere.
The people who do this are sociopathic vermin, and I truly wish that I could see them all put to death in a public place. By fire and extreme torture. And I say shamelessly that I really mean it.
These crimes are not those of street thugs or mafia guys, as bad as they are. Such head-breakers and hitmen usually wind up killing each other anyway. No, these rats are the ultimate parasites: invisible rodents who find it cute and clever to destroy whole lives. Their crimes are not like the Dalton Gang robbing a Kansas bank a century ago or more and then riding off on horses with the posse frantically pursuing them. They are not about the Godfather ordering a hit or making someone an offer they can't refuse. They are predators of the worst order, and the people they choose are often gullible old-timers, desolate pensioners who are glad for someone to talk to, especially someone with a reassuring voice. Smirking all the while, these toxic worms just grab it all. No conscience.
The crimes of these people still aren't being taken seriously enough. If technology is to do more than just befuddle us with its complexity, if it is to help vulnerable people escape ruin just to fill the pockets of merciless, unconscionable crooks, then bring it on. More technology please if it can stop the rot.
And if anyone reading this article is or has ever been a thieving participant in such cruel activity, let me say that I wish you the worst of deaths. I hope the crocodiles eat your mother, your father sucks moose cock, and your children are born with three heads, all of them stupid. You lousy, stinking bastard.
And, sentimental old fart that I am, I have to say that the so-called women – the Tunisian whores and the Chinese phantoms – are products of the same wickedness. They pick what they see are people silly enough to be honest in their dealings with life, and they proceed to chew their flesh away, ransacking them to the bone then flinging them to the jackals.
They trade in human loneliness and yearning and fatigue. All of these cretins live just waiting to pounce and drown all innocence in their oceans of pus.
Identify them. Catch them. Exterminate them.