Tag: crime


The More You Know…

The number of scams seems endless. Check your email spam folder sometime and scroll through the endless list of solicitations offering you bogus romance, lottery winnings, investment opportunities, insurance products, credit card and bank account alerts, and anti-virus software. The Oxford English Dictionary has fewer words. Most cons can be lumped into broad categories. Knowing the categories may make it easier to spot a con. Scamwatch.gov.au lists: –Attempts to gain your personal information. These include phishing (called whaling and spear phishing when it targets businesses and business executives), hacking, identity theft, and remote access scams (those phony computer repair guys) –Buying and selling scams. These include false billing, classified ad scams (think Craigslist), sham health and medical products, mobile/cellphone premium services, online shopping scams, overpayment scams (legitimate sellers are targeted with bogus refund demands), and psychic/clairvoyant scams –Dating and romance scams. Swipe left –Bogus charities –Investment and betting scams. These include real estate and mortgage scams, boiler room operations selling risky penny stocks or phony stocks, and bogus software that promises “guaranteed” gambling wins –Job and employment scams. These include get-rich-quick schemes, pyramid schemes, and job opportunities that require starter kit fees –Threat and extortion scams. These include malware/ransomware that […]

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Fool Me Once…

Not all crimes involve a dead body. Robbery, assault, and fraud are as criminal as murder and can be as destructive to victims and families. Fraud, especially, fascinates me. How can someone trick other competent adults (I omit children and incompetent adults because people who prey on them are a special class of evil) into giving them money, property, love, and trust? I’m on the cynical end of the spectrum, so that last one, trust, in particular confuses me. Some frauds are easy to understand. The con artist plays on people’s greed, sympathy, or fear/confusion. Take greed. Face it, if you fall for a con who tells you, up front, he/she needs you to help them launder money—and that’s what helping some deposed royal or disgraced official or surviving spouse smuggle their “inheritance” or other shady fortune out of their country is—then you’re greedy enough to agree to an illegal act for the promise of a cut and shame on you. Shame on the con artist who takes advantage of a tender-hearted person’s desire to help or to rescue someone. Crooks who run charity scams and ransom scams are bottom-feeders and deserve a special place in hell. Cons who ape […]

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What's on Your Christmas List?

‘ Tis the season for Christmas music, sacred, popular, cloying, and migraine-producing. The selection ranges from Wham!’s “Last Christmas” to “O’ Holy Night” performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with plenty in between. One song, in particular, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” seems to have spawned more spoofs and puns and plays on words than there are Salvation Army kettles at the mall. I recently participated in an Author Takeover to promote the Christmas anthology, The 12 Slays of Christmas. I read a P.D. James short story called, “The 12 Clues of Christmas”. I’ve seen ads on social media (and in my email spam folder) for “The 12 Deals of Christmas” and “The 12 Gifts of Christmas.” All in the same week. Everyone is familiar with the plethora of gifts offered over the twelve days from Christmas Day to Epiphany. And whether you believe the gifts have religious symbolism or the song’s just a festive, musical version of a memory game along the lines of “I’m going on a trip,” you have to admit, a) it’s a pretty hefty haul of loot, b) it’s fun to spoof. We Missdemeanors decided we could come up with better gifts than partridges and colly birds. No […]

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B.O.A.T.S. (Based on a True Story)

 I heard information today at work that made me say to myself, “That would make a great movie.” (No details here–it’s an active project.) It got me thinking about other true stories that would make gripping fiction. The art world provides a plethora of material suitable for a ripped-from-the-headlines thriller. Art isn’t nearly as sedate as those 6th grade field trips to dim, musty museums led you to believe. A search of Artsy turned up an article about an agoraphobic photographer who uses Google Street View to take screenshots of the people and landscapes she encounters in her virtual world travels. What if she grabbed a screenshot of a crime committed thousands of miles away? What would this homebound woman do? A deeper dip into Artsy’s archives turns up several articles on the hunt for, recovery of, and restoration of Nazi-looted art. What’s been described as the world’s greatest art theft has already inspired novels, movies, and TV shows: Portrait of a Woman in White, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Woman in Gold, and episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Father Brown, and Agatha Christie’s Marple, to name a few. Newspapers and magazines often feature stranger-than-fiction stories. The Telegraph and Business Insider report […]

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Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do…

 Another confession. I’m crushing on men who don’t exist. No, I’m not delusional. I have fictional crushes. It’s a thing. Google it. I watched Father Brown, the BBC series streaming on Netflix, last night while doing my taxes. (Filed ’em at 11:55 pm–all hail the Queen of the Last Minute.) By the time I hit send in the e-file program, I realized (read: admitted) I had a crush on Inspector Sullivan and Hercule Flambeau. An odd dichotomy to crush on–a by-the-book law enforcement officer and a ruthless master thief. But they have something in common. They’re both Father Brown’s antagonists. Inspector Sullivan reminds me of Inspector Javert. Not actually a villain, but a man so dedicated to law and order he’s sometimes blinded to the greater cause of justice. Flambeau, on the other hand, is an antagonist along the lines of Professor Moriarty. A criminal mastermind, he’s Father Brown’s true nemesis. What, aside from the skill of the casting director in choosing talented, attractive actors, makes antagonists on-screen (and in-print) crush-worthy? Or at least appealing? Unforgettable? What draws us to the Dexter’s, Jokers, Moriartys, Voldemorts, and, yes, even Lucifers of the fiction world? I doubt there’s a single answer. Each reader and viewer has their own […]

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Best Punishment Ever?

Thriller writers are necessarily consumed with crime and punishment. Who gets off? Who gets caught? Is the killer murdered or sent to prison? Does he or she go free? Our novels are our worlds where we can deliver justice as we see fit, or as we believe it is doled out in real life.  Perhaps this obsession with punishment is one of the reasons that I was drawn to this NPR story: Teens Who Vandalized Historic Schoolhouse With Swastikas Sentenced To Reading. It has been shown that reading fiction improves the ability to empathize, perhaps because it encourages individuals to get into the mind of a character whose circumstances are undoubtedly different from their own. What better way to rehabilitate teenage perpetrators of non-violent hate crimes than by encouraging them to empathize with the people whom they had targeted? The teens were sentenced to go to the Holocaust museum and write a book report per month from a reading list curated by the judge. The books include Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner, and Richard Wright’s Native Son. I’ve read all of these and loved them. Two I read in high school and I think they definitely gave me more of […]

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