This article belongs to Sweet Grace column.


 The New Trends


The world has been on a "trend change" mode for centuries.  Such changes don't come about overnight but in small doses over a period of time.


Several new trends in the past in our land  India have been quite positive, such as  film making or entertainment or costume or our South Indian young maidens changing over from the customary Sarees to the North Indian variety of Salwar kameez or even to the western style costume. These have taken deep roots and are very much part of our routine life.


The next trend is "cheating".  Once upon a time, it was difficult to sight  or meet a thief on the road. But these days, it is just the opposite.  So much so, I have started viewing every stranger who comes to me as a cheat of the highest order. About a year back, a man carrying a Bible in his hand stopped me and asked me to give him some money to travel back to his home town  because he had been pick-pocketed the previous day to the tune of $150. Further, he promised to remit the money back immediately after he got home.  I paid him, trusting him to be a good Christian.  I have heard nothing from him till this day.


This kind of a trend is noticeable on the internet as well.  I see so many ads, which ask for a small sum like $2.95 for putting you in touch with potential internet employers where one can earn $ 2000 - 3000 every week or buying their package at a concessional rate [$145 reduced to 49.5] for earning  around $25,000 a week .  


A few months back, I received an e-mail announcing that I have won $3.01 million in three separate free lotto games. Whow!  What a sum!  My head went into a spin and my heart galloped at speed surpassing that of sound.  They wanted me to submit my claim quickly.  It's only some days later it came to light that all they wanted was a sum of $19.50 as "service charges".  Luckily I didn't have a credit card for foreign transactions. As days rolled by, I became wiser. But thank God, I saved a sum of $19.50


And lately, another kind of  internet deceiving trick has come into play.  One fine morning an e-mail would appear on your screen from a childless widow with a terminal disease who has only a few days left before death, whose husband has left behind a large deposit in a bank to be used only for charitable purposes like financing orphanages, destitute homes, hospitals etc.  "Are you willing to take over the responsibility of handling around $4 million?  You keep 10% and 90% to be spent as per  her late husband's desire.  Reply by e-mail earliest…"  Naturally, falling for it you say 'yes' with your personal assurances against any misuse. Next, the venerable lady's lawyer asks you for your personal details, identification, home address etc. And you give it all. Then a communication from the bank arrives asking you to name your bank where the money could be sent. You give the details with  the greatest of accuracy while your mind is reveling in dreams of handling tons of currency notes. But, immediately follows another message from the bank to say that in order to activate the account, you have to make an initial deposit of some money and only thereafter either the amount could be withdrawn or passed over to another bank account.


And how much is that igniting deposit amount?  Either 1000 GBP or some 3500 Euros. My head went dizzy. How do I produce such a huge amount?  Then I saw the trick behind the game plan.  All the bank, which is obviously a fictitious variety, wants is your deposit and  it would vanish into thin air thereafter..


So, be careful about this latest modus operandi of the internet cheats.  I escaped at the last moment!


The strangest thing is, most of  such internet dupes are  from the advanced countries in the West.


In conclusion,  may I caution you against getting attracted to the gullible talks and sweet messages. Read these appeals and tempting advertisements on the internet with a free mind. They are written in excellent English and you would  perhaps give full marks for their style.  That's all.  Don't take a step farther.  Take anything with a pinch of salt especially if  they ask for money, however small it may be.  I believe this cheating trend is likely to remain in vogue for quite some time.


-Israel Jayakaran [Sweetgrace]