There is a sucker born every minute. Which explains why a charlatan was able to convince a Jaipur-based trader that soil from Kargil can be converted into gold. The gullible victim handed over Rs. 5 lakh to convert five kilos of soil into gold, after which, of course, the potential alchemist vanished into thin air.
The same trick has been employed with naïve housewives by people offering to increase the number of their ornaments by the simple expedient of tying their gold in a handkerchief. Of course, all of us are familiar with the online scam in which someone will claim to have access to the accounts of a deceased person, which they want to share with you for a small processing fee. Though old hat now, many of us are still at the receiving end of such mails. But, not before people who should really know better have fallen for it. Of course, all of us routinely win millions of dollars in lotteries on the mail and get invited to seminars at exotic locations, all for, you guessed, a small fee. But such frailties are only too human.
Many of us who pride ourselves on our ability to spot a fraud when we see one, have bought pieces of the Berlin wall, bottled water from Lourdes and bits of sand from historic spots. We know in our heart that we are being duped but cannot help but want to own a piece of history. And for every sucker, there is a snake oil salesman. Many of us have paid considerable sums for pills and potions which promise to provide us a luxuriant crowning glory, spotless skin or knock off fat at a supersonic rate. It is probably the Indian fascination for gold that led the hapless Jaipur businessman to fall for this wheeze. But all the poor man, who is now searching in vain for the villain, can take comfort in is that he is not alone. It is just a matter of time before someone else comes up with a shiny new scam, so do be on your guard.