HAVE you ever received an email from a supposed Nigerian prince, widow, or military official requesting your help in releasing their millions of dollars trapped in a bank that is making it difficult for them to collect the money? Maybe yes. I think everybody does, unless you’re still living in the Jurassic Park of obsolescence. It’s clearly a scam and nobody wants to pay attention to it, except to delete the earnest request, if not block the email address from one’s computer system.
Sometimes, the email contains a lot of grammatical errors, embellished with an unbelievable story that contradicts itself. No one bothers to answer such email sent to millions of people around the world. But still, many Nigerian scammers continue doing it because the Internet offers the fastest, most efficient, and low-cost transmission opportunity, with very little chance of being caught.
In the olden days, this scam was perpetuated via the snail mail system and capitalized using a variation of the story of a Spanish prisoner in the 16th century; a member of a royal family and a millionaire multiplied several times over, but was languishing in jail due to a fabricated criminal offense.
It’s a confidence-building trick game. Fraudsters would send you letters asking for your help in releasing the prisoner, who uses a false identity, to protect his family and reputation. If you will contribute a modest sum (in today’s world, scammers can settle even for a P100 load) for the prisoner’s release, you will be greatly rewarded from the prisoner’s millions stashed in some banks, if not hidden in a certain forest. If you’re single, the other sweetener may include you to be invited marrying the millionaire’s daughter.
If a question is more important than the answer, then let me offer this: Why do we still receive this type of scam, even up to this day? Let me answer my own question — the scammers are dumb people looking for their own kind. Further, for a dumb individual wishing to con someone else, the internet is the greatest gift because it facilitates harvesting email addresses and using them to send bait proposals to hundreds of thousands of potentially stupid people.
As I reflect on this, I ask myself another important question. (Digression alert: One who asks a question is a fool for a moment. But one who does not ask questions is a fool forever). Now, here are my other questions: Why can’t scammers who would not hesitate to admit they’re from Nigeria would still perpetuate it given their very low chance of success? Why can’t they channel their con skill into something worthwhile to mankind?
Are criminals made or born? Let’s take a look at the case of Andrew Philip Kehoe (1872-1927), an American farmer and mass murderer who killed his wife and 43 people, and injured 58 more by setting off dynamites in a local school community. Kehoe committed suicide after detonating incendiary devices in his truck and destroying their property. After the tragic incident, investigators discovered a sign in Kehoe’s fence that reads: “Criminals are made, not born.”
People around the area were interviewed and claimed that Kehoe “preferred mechanical tinkering to farming,” unlike other farmers. And so what does this mean? Why did Kehoe fail to maximize the full potential of his agricultural lot instead? We don’t have enough data to make a conclusion. We can only surmise that farming is not interesting enough for some people. And we can’t fault them for that. As long as you’re doing something legit to earn money, then that’s perfectly normal and desirable.
But there is one thing I’ve learned since Grade One when my Lolo (grandfather) showed me how to maximize the full potential of all available resources. He was a custom tailor during his time. He earned his keep creating new pairs of short pants out of scrap clothing materials and sold sweepstakes tickets on the side. He didn’t finish college but this did not deter him. He didn’t wallow in poverty. Instead, he maximized his full potentials by designing new styles that catered to the taste of his customers at the time.
In today’s world, it’s called “resource optimization.” Ignore your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths. Use resources that are available for consumption. There’s no need to buy other materials or hire additional workers. Maximize all available resources, that is. It’s an embodiment of Taiichi Ohno’s “use your brain, not your money” strategy.
Now, how would you benefit from free energy like gravity to design a product? Discover the wisdom of manufacturers in coming up with reverse plastic containers (spout on bottom, instead of the top) like what you can imagine with ketchup, mayonnaise, and even shampoo. Those products can speak for themselves whenever we talk about maximizing resources.
Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts.