Thursday, May 13, 2010

Who is Scamming Who? Its Impossible to Tell..

This morning I escaped a croupy child, whose cough goes straight through my head like an arrow, and went to a little coffee shop for breakfast. There I overheard a marvel of a conversation.

Sad eyed, heffalump of a gentle voiced giant of a man with one of those slightly chewed looking porn star moustaches. Elegant Chinese businesswoman. They are having a quick breakfast over a tiny bronze table at this restaurant on the edges of the Harvard/MIT power circle. She seems to be representing some Hedge Fund, or Funds, that specialize in Chinese Real Estate. And he seems to be offering, or selling, or touting, control over a number of potential suckers who have more money than sense and who he thinks can be organized through a social networking site he is planning to build.

He: “I'll be working up the interface. I think there's no problem, right? I mean, its getting in to China? Its the same internet...I think?”
She: Reassuringly, “Yes, its the same internet.”

The two begin by discussing how little food they eat at breakfast—eyeing my huge plate of migas --he enviously, she with disdain--and then settle down to the business of impressing each other with their plans for other people's money. He has designed, or will design, or is thinking of designing, or having designed by someone else, some kind of totally new and amazing “social networking” site for witting investors. I mean, his investors are really smart, high powered people. One of them is the “head of the business school” in Pennsylvania—and also the Chief of Anesthesiology at the Medical School. (I almost turned to them at that point and said “what? The same guy puts people to sleep and then takes their money? This is too perfect!”)And he'll bring a lot of people along with him. Everyone wants to invest with him. And others that he could name. All top people. All leaders in their fields. She nods along, and agrees, echoing "Because of what they have done." They are all interested specifically in investing in their fields of expertise. You know: real estate...because its real.” Everyone is very eager to get started. And he knows even more people, people here at Harvard. They haven't built the website yet but its going to be really neat. Everyone will be able to log on and see everyone else and what they are investing in. Except (he pauses here and she nods reassuringly, there might? Be some privacy issues?) Yes, there will be privacy issues. But he will solve them with the use of a password. Yes, the site will be password protected and they will change the password periodically. Like every year or two. And another thing, everyone who wants to be on the site will be have to pay a fee. Or at any rate buy in to the various offerings they will be bounced off the site. No malingerers or free loaders! Except he begins to list all his friends, kind of like first investors, who may need to be tapped for their expertise in “reading things” and since they won't “charge us” then they can just be part of the group without paying. She will also be paid, perhaps, but, mysteriously “we don't need to can just be paid your expenses...take the money...” she nods again. Yes, this is very business like. They do not need to incorporate! There will be so many investors from around the world they will hold “dinners” in London, Europe, Boston! And its going to be really neat—all the members of the site will receive clever updates on new “offerings” which will be named for Cities! Like, (he says excitedly) if its an American offering it will be named after an American city—like ATHENS! He pauses for a second, reconsiders and says “well, no, not Athens. Maybe Athens if its a foreign offering. If its an American offering it will be named, you know, BUFFALLO!

Its time for her to go, on to the next sucker, somewhere on Memorial Drive—somewhere down the road. It never ends. The skies the limit. There will always be people with more money than sense. Und so weiter.

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