Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Treet - Part II

When I wrote my column on treet (like spam only in blogs) I would have though that the morons who distribute this stuff would have got the message. Hello! I'm hostile to your business model. Lo and behold! They are at it again. This time it's a doozy.

The latest unwanted garbage in the comments section of my blog promises to help you earn a degree in two weeks. The "degrees" that you can "earn" run the gamet from a simple BA to a PHD. Take note, not a B.A. or Ph.D. Now, my bachelors took 4 years to accomplish and my wife's Ph.D. took something like an additional 6 years. Since I know we are not slow learners (most people with doctorates aren't) I can only assume that Ph.D. and PHD are not the same thing.

If you have the wherewithal to get an Internet connection going and bother to read through blogs, are you really that below average in intelligence? I doubt it. Who then is actually calling this number? So, I said to myself,"How about me?". I called.

The message only identified them as "The University". No other name. Like "The Village" in the old TV show "The Prisoner". I was expecting to hear "For Number 2, press 2. For Number 6, press 6. For number 1... that would be telling". If you haven't seen the show then that's too bad. Go find it. Watch it. Love it.

Anyway, all I was able to get was an answering machine. Always a bad sign. The messaged asked for two phone numbers and an e-mail. That's much more information than most answering machines ask for. Hmmm... I tried again. The message said that you could dial your party's extension at anytime and it would connect you. Liars! I tried an old voice mail trick. Usually if you dial a "0", "*" or "#" you get an operator. Nope. 0 repeats the opening message, # doesn't register, and the number 1 just cuts to the answering machine. Hmmm again... Any other number is ignored (despite the fact that some of them had to be extensions) and * asks for a PIN code. That indicates that it's a cheap answering machine not a professional PBX. In any event, you can't do anything but leave a voice mail and there's no way I'm doing that. Especially with a "university" that doesn't have a name. I don't need the guys in black boots coming for me in the night.

All the while I kept wondering, who could possible think this is for real? That got me thinking. Who actually responds to these things? Do the marketers of these phony degrees actually think that my gentle readers are this stupid and gullible? Is anyone this gullible? Phishing I get. Some of those phishing e-mails look very real. I can see how even a smart person could get caught by a phisher. But this? It simply doesn't make sense.

A quick google of the number shows that this same message has been planted like a kudzu in many other blogs, mostly technology-oriented ones. That makes it even more puzzling. Technology people tend to be educated and intelligent. Even if they needed additional degrees, they couldn't possibly be scammed by this. Once again, treet is a waste of time in ways that spam and phishing aren't. That makes it seem just that much more stupid. A traditional con man or grifter has to pick their mark carefully. If the mark is suspicious, too smart, or even too experienced, then the scam won't work. I can't imagine anyone capable of operating a computer being that inexperienced, gullible, or just plain dumb.

This simply confirms my initial hypothesis. The people that treeters are trying to scam are not the stupid ones here. It's the treeters themselves that are dumb. So, if any of you treeters are out there, contact me. I'm dying to know how you make money at this. Even Bill Gates, who seems to be able to make money at almost anything, probably would be interested. Oh, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn that you might be interested in. Real cheap. Trust me.

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