Tuesday, July 14, 2009

So Genies Use Cell Phones?

In Bangladesh genies are the latest craze - genies who apparently use cell phones. Police there in the district of Gobindaganj have arrested 24 con artists in the last three months who contacted victims by cell phone, claiming to be powerful genies in order to cheat them out of as much money as possible under the threat of magical attack.

"It has become an epidemic here," said Farhad bin Imrul Kayes, police chief of Gobindaganj district.

"In the last three months alone we have arrested 24 of these so-called 'kings of genies', some of whom have even become rich in just a year," he told AFP.

The scammers would gather personal information about their victims beforehand, call them and speak "in a tone similar to Arabic," Kayes said.

Claiming to be genies who had descended from the sky, they would tell people to send money to a specific location, threatening a family tragedy if they disobeyed.

This scam sounds a lot like a spam e-mail I got years back - originating in Nigeria, of course - from a supposedly powerful magician demanding that I send money or else I would face a terrible curse. I sent no money and nothing noticeably bad happened to me, so if any curse was even cast in my direction it must have been a pretty ineffective one. I saw the same e-mail one more time and then it disappeared for good, so I'm guessing that nobody made any money off of it. Usually the e-mails that make con artists money keep coming and only go away when you add them to your spam filter.

Conducting this similar scam over the phone in a country like Bangladesh where belief in magick is common is most likely a lot more lucrative, at least in part because nothing says you have an effective magical link to your target like an e-mail addressed to "undisclosed recipients." Furthermore, the use of illicitly obtained personal information certainly adds to the scam's effectiveness, because the target is left wondering how the con artist could possibly have such information without some sort of magical power. Phony psychics commonly use this same trick and it can be very impressive even when dealing with someone who is on their guard.

Still, it leaves me wondering why the first thing a genie would do after descending from the sky would be to pick up a cell phone and start hitting random people up for cash. Aren't they supposed to be able to create gold or find hidden treasures or something? More to the point, wouldn't you think that it would be easier for a real larcenous genie to just appear in a puff of smoke and run off with your wallet rather than going through the hassle of making a phone call?

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Suecae Sounds said...

I found this news which seems to hit a similar tangent over at Jow's blog:

Rufus Opus said...

See, the Genie has to get its money from somewhere. And it can't just take wallets, it's too ineffective. Who carries the kind of oney a genie gets asked for around on them in cash?

Anonymous said...

Sheesh what a terrible thing to do to the Genie archetype.

I was not aware Genies were seeking treasures from people. I always thought it was the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Wait until they piss of some REAL Genies!