Today, Tiffany and I encountered a scam artist (I prefer calling them "scam pornographers" but that does not yet have the same communal acceptance).
He was a friendly, energetic, talkative, and manipulative bastard. It was a sight to behold, the way he drove the conversation from his assignment to talk to random people for "points," to using those points to win his mother a trip to a foreign country, to helping sick children in hospitals, and ultimately buying a magazine "subscription" for said children.
Before he began asking us basic questions about our personal lives (the more diverse answers we gave, the more points he'd acquire, which ought to have been red flag number two...the first being his approaching us in a parking lot), he gave us a spiel about how we were going to have to rate his speaking ability. It was important we give him a good rating, because this garnered him more points, or whatever.
This was a great tactic for disarming our suspicions regarding his slick-talking. It also, in the heat of the moment, kind of made sense. Of course, this company that is giving him this opportunity doesn't want him to be an awkward, creepy, stuttering mess. You'd think his eventual bounty would speak for itself, but that's only if you already knew he was going to try to pry $65 out of you. His spiel also dissuades you from immediately assuming he's trying to sell you something, which he is, and that something happens to exploitative bullshit.
He made mention of using these mythical points towards filling his mother's pool with jell-o whilst on her vacation, a prank which would somehow land him in the Guinness Book of World Records and would be filmed for youtube. Oh how hip and now. At this point, I was beginning to get a little confused as to how this was all functioning.
The questions he finally asked us pertained to our jobs and general life goals. It wasn't anything too personal. The dude made sure to mention (several times) that he made money playing video games. He was a beta tester for Sony. Again, how hip. How now. (Brown cow).
Eventually, he somehow got to the topic of sponsoring a magazine subscription for kids in a children's hospital. He had us pick the hospital from one list, and pick the subscription series from a tattered, but also legitimate looking printed list. We told him which hospital, and he began writing the receipt while doing more talking. He then stopped, and told us he accidentally wrote the wrong hospital down (you know, brain fart). "Is that still okay?" he asked. "Because I only have one receipt left, and then I'm done." "Sure," we said.
This had to have been planned for the sake of emphasizing to us that he really did only have one receipt left. If we said no, he'd surely be screwed.
Long story short, we did say no. When we were told we'd have to pay $65, and when we informed him we did not have that money. He looked at us, sadly, and said he'd have to pay it himself. I told him I thought he was selling a "subscription," not a one-time payment. I'm sure, at some point, he used the words "one-time payment," but he used a lot of words, so even if this weren't an ancient scam (thank you, google), fuck him, it's his fault anyway.
But I don't feel bad at all. I feel a little embarrassed that I went along for the ride as long as I did, but he works for a company that is exploiting sick children for profit. I feel kinda bad for the scammer. He could be using his deceptive skills to sell people dangerous or superfluous goods that will only minutely and very temporarily improve their lives. Morally, it's not much different, but I'm sure it is safer and pays better.