fraud is the worst.

according to dante, fraud is the worst sin. the people who committed fraud in life are closest to the asshole of the inferno, where satan is stuck. before reading the inferno, i always assumed that it would be something else, like rape, murder, or genocide. but no, it was fraud. who would've guessed? the other students in my dante class were equally surprised. "why fraud?" someone asked. father rowan explained, "dante believed that fraud and deceit were the worst. he believed a society wouldn't be able to exist if it consisted of fraudulent characters." it kind of makes sense. if i was a shady character who went around ripping everyone off, and you were a shady character who went around ripping everyone else off, we would probably soon figure each other out, and then we wouldn't even talk anymore. we would no longer be a society, but rather a bunch of people living separately, dreaming about our next big scam. nothing would ever get done.

i was thinking about fraud tonight because i just finished listening to last monday's episode of this american life, "enforcers." act one focused on a group of people who scam the scammers. their website,, chronicles three "cyber-vigilantes" from the u.s. who targeted a nigerian scammer. the cyber-vigilantes posed as members of a made-up church, then tricked the scammer into travelling 800 miles from his hometown to the border of darfur, and made him wait for over four months, promising that they would give him a $200,000 grant in order to build a church in nigeria. these vigilantes even went so far as to tell this scammer that his mother was dead.

sounds pretty fucked up, huh? that's what i love about this american life, and the show's creator, ira glass. they make a big deal out of stories like this, stories most people would normally just gloss over. people on the 419eater thread left comments like, "hahaha. this is side-splittingly hilarious" and "this guy is getting what he deserves. good work." the three vigilantes expressed no regret putting their victim in harm's way, or even telling him that his mother was dead. they reasoned that this nigerian scammer was willing to rip off a church; it was his greed that led him into harm's way. he had it coming. in essence, two wrongs make a right.

ira pointed out that the nigerian scammer uses the same exact logic to justify ripping off his own victims. most likely, the nigerian believes that it's the americans' greed which leads them to their own financial ruin. so, what point are the people at 419eater trying to make? they claimed their purpose is to waste scammers' time, so that these scammers will have less time to scam other people. sounds pretty pointless to me, but i guess everyone needs a hobby, right?

i really need to learn how to start up my own podcast, and do my own radio show or something. i get excited thinking about the possibility of working on a team full of people who love reading and writing, and music and film. young, idealistic people who can actually get shit done, but who have enough sense enough to demand monetary compensation for the good work they do, unlike americorps. where does such a place exist? i think my dream job would be to work on a show like this american life. they're up for five emmy's this year; i think i'll have some competition applying.

dare to dream, right? i just need to figure out how to get things off the ground.

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