Wednesday, June 29, 2011

880 A Dangerous Post

880 A Dangerous Post

If this is an original idea, it’s dangerous because it might be a “how to” handbook for a post-modern crook.  But it’s hard to imagine it’s original.

Go back in time a few decades, and head for a crowded mercantile street in practically any town or city.  Izzy Immigrant has scraped together a few bucks and decided to fulfill the American Dream.  Izzy opens a store, maybe a tailor shop or a grocery or a candy store or a bakery, clothier, hat shop, whatever.

Business is good.  The neighborhood quickly learns Izzy bakes a nice rye or sews a good cuff.  One morning, he comes to work and his front window is smashed.  Someone’s thrown a brick through it, or taken a pick ax to it.  

This kind of thing hurts.  And angers.  And is expensive to fix.

But this is America, land of opportunity, and a solution presents itself.  The solution comes in the form of a hood who walks in and says “I see you’ve got a problem, Iz.  For a few bucks a week me and the boys can guarantee it won’t happen again.”

Izzy says “hey, thanks, but it’s probably just neighborhood kids.  So, no thanks.”  Exit neighborhood hood.  But two days later, there’s another broken window and a small fire.

When the ‘hood-hood comes back that morning, Izzy has come to understand what’s going on, and pays up.

This is called the protection racket.  And while it’s not dead, it’s not the ocean tide of money it once was.  So what’s a “protector” to do?

Oh, maybe there’s a more up to date version, one that doesn’t even require the services of hoods in the hood.  Might be just a geek-genius dropout who never has to show his face and instead of a store, he hits a website.

Modern day Izzy isn’t “Izzy,” he’s, say, Jeff, and Jeff sells his wares on the internet.  He has a website and runs the thing out of his bedroom.

One day, someone knocks Jeff’s site off the internet with either a hack or a “denial of service” data flood.  Jeff gets back up and running in, maybe, a day or two and finds an e-mail in his “contact us” page.

“Hey, Jeffie I see you had a problem with your site for a few days.  You never can tell about these hackers.  Tell ya what, I can arrange to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Jeff writes back:  “Thanks, but this looks like some of my classmates playing a joke.  Appreciate the offer, but I’ve improved security and think things’ll be fine, so no thanks.”

A day later, Jeff’s customers click on his website and find themselves automatically re-directed to “Kiddie Porno-Rama.”

Jeff goes to his “contact us” e-mail and finds a note that says “If you change your mind about our security, we accept Pay Pal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, electronic transfers and negotiable securities.”

Jeff has come to understand the situation.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and payoff requests to
© WJR 2011

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