Siren’s Song

19 Feb

Homer, in the Odyssey, tells of the Sirens who, through their music and voice, lured mariners to crash on the rocky coast of their island. I have had such an encounter.

*           *          *

It began with a simple Twitter message:

“Are you a Christian and a believer of God?”

We exchanged Twitter messages about God and religion.

Her profile indicated that she worked for an international aid agency.  Occasionally she would disappear.  When she returned two or three days later, the rationale was no Internet wherever in the world she was.

We talked about A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve by Mother Teresa and Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C.  Then she asked:

“Do you believe in charity?”

To which I spoke about the West Ohio Food Bank, Read for L.I.F.E., WGTE, the Toledo Museum of Art, BGSU, UT, and the Stratford Festival.

Our conversations continued for about three weeks.  She then mentioned that she had to go out of the country for the international aid society. On the day prior to her return, I get a message; she’s been mugged and has spent the day in the hospital.  The bandits escaped with her credit cards and all her money.

“Can you send me $600 to get home?”

However, things just didn’t add up:

  • Her purse was stolen but she still had plane tickets and cell phone.
  • She didn’t want to involve the international agency that she worked for because of the protocols involved.
  • She didn’t want to involve the Department of State or the embassy because nothing happens within the country without a bribe.
  • She said she had received either some “raw gold” or 300 acres in country for her assistance. (Isn’t this an ethical problem?)
  • Even though she travels regularly, there didn’t seem to be any contingency plans should an emergency arise:
    • Funds to be wired
    • Traveler’s checks to be replaced
    • Credit cards reissued
    • Friends … family
    • Employer assistance
    • Embassy aid for travelers in distress

Why did everything rest on an Internet acquaintance with whom she had communicated for three weeks?  It just didn’t smell right.

I sent emails to the international aid agency both in-country, and at its headquarters and can report that I heard nothing from the in-country office but the international headquarters had no knowledge of these events.

I also contacted via email the embassy and was advised that they had attempted to contract her without success.  I passed along the embassy’s phone number and email address to her.

I drafted an outline of the events and submitted those to the Sheriff’s Office, who noted that this was a typical scam to get money, and the FBI.

*          *          *

Perhaps I suspected this from the beginning.  I called her a Siren.  I told her I wasn’t about to be wrecked on the rocky coast after hearing her voice and song.  I can see how easy it would be to succumb to this enchantment.

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