A Mountainous Scam

Hey, I’ve got this wonderful idea to make a lot of money. It goes like this: I’m going to get people to vote by premium SMS for, oh, anything really. What about for the “prettiest city”, or “most fashionable football strip”? No, let’s make it “the new 7 wonders of the world”. Almost everyone thinks their country contains something pretty wonderful, so lots of people will vote. And we can let them vote as many times as they like, so we get more money. Oh, alright then, we’ll set up a website and let them vote there, too, but we’ll still make money on clickthroughs.

Table Mountain

We could also sell broadcast rights to the final awards ceremony where we’ll hand over the cheesy certificates to the winners, and we can charge the winners to use our logo on their advertising materials. And when the whole thing is over, we start again with a new competition. We could even register ourselves as a non-profit organization to make everything look above board; we don’t make a profit, we just pay ourselves mountainous salaries and investment bankeresque bonuses at the end of the day.

Great scam. Sure, but regrettably, like most of my brilliant ideas, someone else thought of it first. These guys have been and done it. They are such consummate scammers, masters of the long con, that they have even got governments to go along with their nonsense.

I live in Cape Town, and we are finalists thanks to a lump of sandstone and granite that forms the backdrop to the city. (An interesting factoid: it is the roughly the same size as the asteroid that is alleged to have wiped out the dinosaurs.) Table mountain is awesome, but it would be no less awesome if it wasn’t part of this ridiculous contest. We have been bombarded by radio DJs, newspaper editorials and paid for advertisements from the city, all exhorting us to vote for the mountain. The city claims that if we win, we’ll reap so many millions in tourist revenue and so on.

I call bullshit. People who wish to see Table Mountain will come to see Table Mountain whether or not it is voted one of the new seven wonders of the world. UNESCO have declared the Cape Floral Region–of which Table Mountain is part–a World Heritage site, which is a far more prestigious accolade; and those who have the money to stump up for an aeroplane ticket to get here are hardly likely to be swayed by moonshines such as this competition.

This whole thing will be forgotten by this time next week. The well-intentioned sheep who paid to send all those SMS votes will be slightly poorer, the folk who run this scam will be a whole lot richer, and no one else will care a jot.

Cheers, and have a great weekend.

Creative Commons License
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License

4 Responses to A Mountainous Scam

  1. Con-Tester says:

    These guys have been and done it.”

    Er, broken link.

    There’s an aphorism (Isn’t there always?), a German one, that translates roughly as “Stupidity is its own punishment.”

    Apt, I reckon.

  2. The greater embarrassment for me as a Filipino is our government’s refusal to admit that we have been deceived and fooled. No less than the president and his men told Filipinos to vote extensively through text to make our Palawan underground river win. I am now incestigating how much we Filipinos spent on the whole scam.

    • Mark says:

      Governments never admit anything. Our mayor exhorted everyone to vote for us, claiming that the city would benefit by millions of dollars due to increased tourist revenue, but she was silent on how she came by her figures. I know where she got them: she stuck her thumb up her arse and pulled them out.

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