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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Friday, September 01, 2006  
    My friend’s thirteen year old son ‘’won’’ a million dollars in an online draw on his first attempt!
    Some guys have all the luck –how lucky is that!
    He also ‘’won’’ three hundred dollars and ten thousand dollars in the same draw but that’s small change compared to a million dollars.
    He and his father asked me to help them claim it.
    I dismissed it out of hand as one does with those sorts of things – following the ‘’if it sounds too good to be true then it is’’ maxim – but they insisted on giving it a shot (‘’the site is copyrighted so it must be legitimate’’ - great, it's a copyrighted scam).
    The boy applied for and just received a credit card and is about to submit his details (including that credit card number) to claim his ‘’prize’’.
    I thought I’d enter the draw myself and also ‘’win’’ a million dollars (which I was sure would happen) just to prove to him that it was a scam but decided against it out of fear that I’d also get hooked and go down the same path myself.
    After all, a million dollars is a million dollars and is hard to ignore.
    Never mind, the father was beginning to share my scepticism and asked another friend of his to enter the same lottery and also ‘’win’’ a million dollars to show his son that it was indeed a scam.
    So far so good, until the friend did indeed ‘’win’’ a million dollars and the person who was merely entering the draw to prove it was a scam got sucked in too and is now going to go through all the procedures required to claim his ‘’prize’’.
    How long before the whole village succumbs to millionaire mania?
    It reminds me of the story about the medieval Turkish character Nasrudin (almost every Middle Eastern society has a variation of this folkloric foolish Everyman) who made up a story about the Sultan hosting a banquet for his people and told everyone he encountered on the street about it.
    Word spread like wildfire and, further on his walk, he came across an excited gaggle of people running towards the palace and asked them what was going on.
    They told him that the Sultan was hosting a sumptuous banquet for his people and he, thinking that there might be something in the false rumour he started after all, joined them in their rush to the palace.

    -a scam in da club
    This boy is very lucky – he also ‘’won’’ ten thousand dollars on the Fifty Cent (750 Lira in local money) website a couple of years ago.
    Off course, he didn’t even see fifty cents of that amount.
    I was also asked to help with this endeavour so I emailed the site (the first and I can assure you the last time I start correspondence with ‘’Dear Fifty Cent’’ –although he dictated that part of the email to me I can’t believe I actually wrote that) website and they wrote back to tell us that although this bonanza was hosted on their official website, it was independent of them.
    You had to ring one of those 1800 numbers (calls to which are as about as expensive as calls to the moon) to claim your ‘’prize’’
    I’m not making fun of the boy who’s quite intelligent and, like a lot of Lebanese, speaks three languages (Arabic, French and English – two or, arguably, three more languages than I do) but am making fun of the shysters who would prey on such good-hearted people who are still naïve to the wicked ways of the world and of the internet.

    Most Lebanese speak several languages but can’t speak straight in any of them.
    Which isn’t entirely a bad thing – sometimes subtlety is appreciated.

    4:00 pm

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