Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wicked Smaht

Every once in a while, I look at the personal ads in Harvard Magazine, and last weekend was one of those whiles.

Some of them seem to be authentic – “petite Harvard grad, accomplished cellist seeks Ivy-educated, financial secure…. “ This strikes me as authentic enough. After all, there is only a certain population for whom cello accomplishment is a come-on.

Others seem more like pros looking for a Harvard sugar daddy: “slender, satin-skinned beauty, appreciative of the finer things in life, looking for long-term relationship with successful gentleman.” (Hey, big spender. Spend a little time with me.)

And sometimes they’re just plain fun. (Or desperately seeking to appear to be just plain fun.”) As in “Harvard grad seeks woman for life…Publishes things people never read…With looks but inescapably may resemble a turtle in 40 years…”

But one should be able to make the assumption that the ones who identify themselves as Ivy-types and/or who actually are Ivy types would be somewhat savvy in the ways of world, no?

Okay, I’ve known plenty of pretty dunder-headed Ivy-league types. Still, you’d think they’d be a bit with it, especially the ones who tout (as most do) their financial independence and professional success.

Thus, I was just a tad bit surprised to find a quarter page notice, smack dab in the middle of the personals, reminding Harvard Magazine’s dear readers to be careful out there. As a public service, they present “some good tips to keep in mind when responding to a classified or personal ad.”

Their tips?

Never share financial information with people you don’t know.

Well, duh-a-duh.

Seriously, folks, there’s someone who would give out their bank information and Social Security number to a potential companion, or – if we’re talking classified rather than personal – someone selling a “79-piece set of commemorative Harvard Wedgewood china from the 1920’s/30’s” or “11 blue Harvard dinner plates and 12 red Radcliffe dessert plates.” (Wonder what happened to that 12th Harvard dinner plate? Did the owner of the Radcliffe dessert plates Frisbee it at her husband’s head one night?)

Maybe people have been scammed by the vacation rentals that are advertised. Maybe. But we had luck the one time we rented – a great apartment in Paris – and I can’t imagine that Harvard Magazine, however poorly it vets its advertisers,would allow a repeat ad to appear if they’d had any complaints.

So the flim-flam is likely to be aimed at those putting in the personal ads, which may well be being answered by ne’er do wells – perhaps even non-Ivy ne’er do wells – who aren’t really looking for a slender cello player, Radcliffe ‘62.

Don’t reveal personal information on first contact.

Here they suggest that you get yourself a Gmail or Yahoo address that doesn’t reveal much of anything about you.  Forget JoeBlowWhoLivesInCambridge@gmail. Better off as slendercellist@yahoo.

Readers are cautioned to:

Be especially alert if any of the following things happen:

  • you notice many spelling/grammatical errors in correspondence
  • you are asked to receive/forward packages
  • it sounds too good to be true.

Sounds like sound advice for those who’ve apparentlynever been exposed to a Nigerian e-mail scam. (Is there anyone left out there who fits this bill?)

“If someone has asked you for personal or financial information, please notify Harvard Magazine’s Classified Department immediately.”

Looks like even wicked smaht folks can be as wicked dumb as the rest of us.

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