By Jug Varner

Some historians credit P.T. Barnum for first saying it, but Syracuse Banker David Hannum was the one who supposedly originated the phrase, “There's a sucker born every minute.”

Later some unknown wise person added “and one born to take him” to the phrase, providing a combined truism that explains quite well a common quirk of human nature.

Whether the economy is good or bad, professional scam artists always find the pickings ripe in the “greed and gullibility” business, primarily because so many people are looking for something “almost too good to be true” - and usually it is.

I’ve often thought if these crooks applied their talents to an honest enterprise, they probably would be among our wealthiest entrepreneurs. As it is, I’m sure they do quite well financially - until they finally get caught. In the meantime they take a lot of money - sometimes life savings - from their easy prey

Which brings to mind the Old Dutch proverb: “A fool and his money are soon parted.” (Old time humorist Will Rogers politicized this phrase by joking: “A fool and his money are soon elected,” but that‘s another truism worthy of a separate article.)

Many of these “easy marks” are the elderly and the naive young, but get-rich-quick schemes touch all echelons of society. As you know, greed is one of the biblical seven deadly sins - and for good reason.

Perhaps you, personally, have no weakness for the “hook, line and sinker” business but someone you know may need to be aware of these ever-increasing scams going on all around us these days. If so, be a good scout and let them know that the IRS has an
interesting site about scams that is well worth their time.