Parroting the Police
At the bottom of virtually every media release from police there is a paragraph where they act like the teacher who makes the whole class stay after school because one kid was chewing gum.
When someone speeds or if there’s an accident the media release will include a line that might say, “police remind drivers to obey the speed limit” or some such thing. I know they’re doing it as a public service but, frankly, as a news writer I tend to ignore and omit those little nanny tidbits. But some media outlets parrot them like they’re actually part of the story. And there’s one instance when I find it particularly galling: when a person gets scammed by something so obvious it’s insulting to even suggest we’d ever be that foolish. I really have a hard time drumming up sympathy for folks who get suckered this way.
This time a local woman got a call from “a doctor in Australia”. The caller told the woman she’d won $5.5 million in a lottery and asked her to transfer a $2,500 administration fee to him. Of course she wired the money. He called again and asked for another $2,850 to cover the currency exchange. She did that, too. Heavens to Murgatroyd – she didn’t get her windfall so she called police!
The perp will not likely ever be found. I maintain that there are people who will fall for this stuff and those who will not and no amount of warning from police will get through to those who are susceptible. And it’s frankly insulting that they keep telling us, the public at large, that we shouldn’t believe everything we are told by strangers who phone, email or send snail mail. But it’s even worse that whoever receives the release thinks it’s a public service to repeat the condescending warning. Young news writers, if your audience is composed of adults, you’re merely insulting their intelligence by parroting this info. Smart people get it: this is how the scam works, be aware. As long as there has been money there have been snake-oil salesmen and women waiting to scam us. It’s survival of the skeptics. The rest are just going to get taken no matter what.