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The pseudo-humans among us

['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']
['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']

Perspectives with Shirley Hallee

A few synonyms listed for the adjective pseudo, are...phony, fake, false, deceptive, misleading, and insincere. If the word is used as a noun the word fraud would be added to the list. For the past couple of years I have written a fair amount about the antics of Donald Trump, and since his behaviour has not been that of a genuine person I would put him into the class of pseudo-human. The public will soon know whether there are more deceptive aspects to this man beyond his phenomenal ability to lie...time and time again.

In just the past couple of weeks I have been reminded there are many more insincere and deceptive people out there...all capable of committing crimes against other humans. It does seems that the scammers are once again coming out of the woodwork. Within a two-day period after Christmas I noted two attempts made by scammers to relieve me of some of my income. First, I had a call at 6:15 in the morning. Groggy with sleep...yet, concerned that a family member might be trying to reach me...I picked up the receiver. An automated female voice said, “This is to let you know there have been charges against your credit card.”

If I had been a little less alert I might have fallen into the trap. I am certain that if I had remained on the phone I would have been given instructions which would have included providing information - thus allowing the caller access to my credit card. Those involved in this scam are very well aware of time changes around the world. They would know exactly when to wake people out of a deep sleep - when the brain is a bit slow in reacting.

Then on that very same day, as I was having my morning coffee, I opened my e-mail to catch up on messages from family and friends. Lo and behold, a message from the Royal Bank of Canada had arrived. The message said, “Due to an unusual number of failed login attempts, online banking access has been temporarily suspended.” Just below these words there was a rectangular blue button which carried the words, “Restore Account.”

Since I don't have an account with that bank the message was easily dismissed. In the past I have received the same message...supposedly from my actual bank. If I had provided the information to “restore” my account I would have ended up with a zero balance...and none of the funds would have been in my pocket.

Banks do not e-mail their customers, nor are they likely to phone their customers. It might be possible to receive a call from someone at the local branch...but they have your information, thus would not ask for that information. The same holds true for credit card companies.

A recent news article told of another kind of pseudo-human. Jason Erroll White, a 40-year-old Halifax man, was sentenced to six years for possession of fentanyl and cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. He also received 90 days for breaching probation. Once this man was caught...and prior to sentencing...he wrote a letter to the court. He bemoaned the fact that he would be going back to jail for years to come, and that he couldn't be there for his new granddaughter and his they wouldn't make the same mistakes and choices he made.

White has a criminal record going back to 1997...with convictions for manslaughter, drug trafficking, aggravated assault, assault, break and enter, and uttering threats. He has served several federal prison sentences, and...he was on probation at the time of the raid. There seems to be a real possibility that he has not been a very positive influence on the members of his family up to this point in time. As Dr. Phil says...the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.

While not as prevalent here, it must also be noted that fentanyl has been linked to a huge number of deaths in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Global News reported that opioid overdoses killed more than 1,000 Canadians in the first quarter of 2018. Of deaths due to overdose, up to 90 per cent have been tied to this drug. Some have died not realizing it was fentanyl they were using since it is often combined with other drugs. Those dealing in this drug are likely aware that it is hundreds of times stronger than stronger than heroin. Knowing the drug is deadly, yet dealing it, earns these persons the status of pseudo-humans.

Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column appears weekly in the Amherst News.

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