Why is it acceptable to rankly deceive stupid people into sending money for, well, crap? Yes, there are laws against some scams, but a great many others are accepted as business as usual. I got some junk mail today in an official-seeming brown envelope designed to look it came from the federal government. A picture of Donald Trump made to look like something printed on a check or paper money is visible through the address window in the envelope, along with an American eagle also printed in that official style--like a government watermark--along with my name and address and the words "to the account of". I instantly knew it was junk mail, but decided to have a look, because it had already made me laugh once.
It started before I even opened the envelope. On the official-brown envelope there's a little box stating, with officialese brio, TO BE OPENED ONLY BY THE ADDRESSEE and warning, in legalistic language, of a possible fine or imprisonment for the violator...OPEN IMMEDIATELY, the envelope commands in big black caps. DATED MATERIAL ENCLOSED also adds to the sense of martial urgency. The prepaid-postage imprint is in the style of a US Government mailing. Most blatant, the return address is headed "Department of Consumer Notices", implying it comes from a government bureau.
Inside, the "credit voucher" drawn on "The American Mint" looks exactly like a US govt check for '$***70.' dollars and '00' cents. It's signed by Michael Young, Vice President of the so-called American Mint. There are official looking routing and account numbers on the bottom of the check-like voucher--which are, one assumes, just numerical gibberish.
The letter accompanying it, written to me by name, claims that "you have personally chosen to participate in the following special promotion". This, of course, is a flat-out barefaced lie. I had never heard of this "promotion".
Turns out they're selling a "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN Commemorative Coin." It's "normally 79.95", but with my credit voucher for 70 bucks will only cost $9.95 (actually 16.90 after postage and handling) which, of course, was the price all along. The shitty fake gold commemorative coin never actually cost $79.95. (If you fork over the ten bucks will you get the shitty commemorative coin at all?) The letter also mentions the Department of Consumer Notices but of course there is no such U.S. bureau. On the back of the letter is a colorful page trumpeting Trump and showing the "coin" which includes E PLURIBUS UNUM to further confuse the consumer as to whether this is all an Official DEMAND from the US Govt...A quote from, I assume, Trump encircles the coin: "Sometimes losing the battle, you find a new way to win the war". Inspiring!
So let's review; the "American Mint" is trying to both scare and entice people into opening the fake-check envelope, is using an official-looking photo of Donald Trump visible from the outside because they're targeting the dull-witted--President Trump enthusiasts--and to hint that The President Himself is sending this, somehow. They imply they're a government bureau (so you'd better get with it, buster, and send the money or you might get in trouble!); they faked up a "voucher" to look like a check and by the way they command you to sign the back of the voucher, just to make the whole thing feel more officiously official...
All this is probably not strictly illegal. Unethical? Wildly so! Sleazy? I can practically feel the ooze on my hands as I handle the "voucher"! Deceptive? Utterly! But it's probably legal. So, then, it's apparently legal to deceive stupid people into sending money to "The American Mint." Yet if I were seen talking a mentally handicapped person out of the money in his wallet, pretending I was from the US government, I'd rightfully be arrested.
We have come to accept the practice of preying on the stupid--or, in some cases, those who are simply under-educated and naive. This particular scam is probably aimed primarily at elderly Fox News viewers. Worse, some elderly are cognitively handicapped, a fact the "American Mint" is counting on.
How cynical are we, as a society, that this is kind of advertising is an accepted norm? We're morally stupid to allow it; it's morally stupid to do it. And there's so much of it that clearly it works. Hence, here's more evidence that a great many people out there are...just plain stupid.