Special Reports

Editorial: Cyber schemers like 'Dove' prey on foibles

Flimflam artists used to peddle their wares out of wagons - which doubled as convenient get-out-of-town-quick transportation to elude bamboozled customers.

Today, their job is a lot easier. Just buy a computer and send out mass e-mailings to people who have already demonstrated their gullibility quotient by falling for some other online scheme. Not only is it easier to make a buck these days, but it's also nearly impossible for cheated customers to track down cyberscammers, much less get their money back.

For the most part, these con artists prey on people's weak- nesses. Let's call it the Seven Deadly Sins of Online Scams. For every sin, there's a corresponding scam out there to make money off it.

Too lazy to actually study and attend class for that college degree? Just write a check; no pesky tests, books or grades. Envious of your friends' flashy lifestyles? Buy a "genuine Rolex" for only $65. Lust for a better sex life? Greater length and girth are yours for the asking - and buying, of course.

Then there's greed. Shaini Goodwin - the self-styled "Dove of Oneness" - appeals to that very common human trait. Dove's cyberscam, as detailed Sunday and Monday by News Tribune reporter Sean Robinson, is a convoluted, highly imaginative combination of conspiracy theory and enrichment scheme.

In mass e-mailings to her clueless flock, she urges support for implementing a top-secret law that President Clinton supposedly signed on an unspecified date in 2000 It's called NESARA, or the National Economic Security and Reformation Act, and it will unlock the wealth of "prosperity programs" (translated: other scams), forgive debts, abolish the Internal Revenue Service, reduce store prices by 90 percent, increase Social Security payments and . . . well, you get the drift. It's a pipedream, a figment of Dove's overactive imagination. Incredibly, thousands of people apparently believe it.

Dare to challenge her, and Dove accuses you of being a "dark agenda stooge." Ask for sources, and she cites "someone" who received "confirmation" from very important sources. However, none of them checks out.

So what's in it for Dove, besides the self-aggrandizing pleasure she must take in having her minions eagerly awaiting her latest pronouncement and scampering off to hold pro-NESARA demonstrations she can publicize on her Web site?

Sadly, Dove needs donations. And she asks for them. Often. Her computer is in need of repairs. And she could use some help with her household expenses (she doesn't mention that she lives in her mother's mobile home in Shelton). Otherwise she'd have to get a job and wouldn't have time to get out the latest NESARA news.

It's sad that so many people lack BS detectors to see through schemes like Dove's and the others that clog e-mail in-boxes and cost American businesses billions of dollars. If more people would hit the delete button instead of writing checks to cyberscammers, the Internet would be a safer, saner place for everyone.