Hello visitors and subscribers of scams
! Here you will find a master list of common (and uncommon) scams that you may encounter online or in real life. Thank you to the many contributors who helped create this thread!
If you know of a scam that is not covered here, write a comment and it will be added to the next edition.
Previous threads: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/search?q=common+scams+master+post&restrict_sr=on Blackmail email scam thread: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/g8jqnthe_blackmail_email_scam_part_5//
Some of these articles are from small, local publications and refer to the scam happening in a specific area. Do not
think that this means that the scam won't happen in your area.
Spoofing Caller ID spoofing
It is very easy for anyone to make a phone call while having any number show up on the caller ID of the person receiving the phone call. Receiving a phone call from a certain number does not mean that the person/company who owns that number has actually called you. Email spoofing
The "from" field of an email can be set by the sender, meaning that you can receive scam emails that look like they are from legitimate addresses. It's important to never click links in emails unless absolutely necessary, for example a password reset link you requested or an account activation link for an account you created. SMS spoofing
SMS messages can be spoofed, so be wary of messages that seem to be from your friends or other trusted people.
The most common scams The fake check scam
(Credit to nimble2
for this part)
The fake check scam arises from many different situations (for instance, you applied for a job, or you are selling something on a place like Craigslist, or someone wants to purchase goods or services from your business, or you were offered a job as a mystery shopper, you were asked to wrap your car with an advertisement, or you received a check in the mail for no reason), but the bottom line is always something like this:
General fraudulent funds scams
- The scammer sends you a very real looking, but fake, check. Sometimes they'll call it a "cashier's check", a "certified check", or a "verified check".
- You deposit the check into your bank account, and within a couple of days your bank makes some or all of the funds available to you. This makes you think that the check is real and the funds have cleared. However, the money appearing in your account is not the same as the check actually clearing. The bank must make the funds available to you before they have cleared the check because that is the law.
- For various and often complicated reasons, depending on the specific story line of the scam, the scammer will ask you to send someone some of the money, using services like MoneyGram, Western Union, and Walmart-2-Walmart. Sometimes the scammer will ask for you to purchase gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Steam, etc) and give them the codes to redeem the gift cards. Some scammers may also give you instructions on how to buy and send them bitcoins.
- Within a couple of weeks, though it can take as long as a month, your bank will realize that the check you deposited was fake, and your bank will remove the funds that you deposited into your account and charge you a bounced check fee. If you withdrew any of the money from the fake check, that money will be gone and you will owe that money to the bank. Some posters have even had their bank accounts closed and have been blocked from having another account for 5 years using ChexSystems.
If somebody is asking you to accept and send out money as a favour or as part of a job, it is a fraudulent funds scam. It does not matter how they pay you, any payment on any service can be fraudulent and will be reversed when it is discovered to be fraudulent. Phone verification code scams
Someone will ask you to receive a verification text and then tell you to give them the code. Usually the code will come from Google Voice, or from Craigslist. In the Google version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Google Voice account that the scammer will use to scam people with. In the Craigslist version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Craigslist posting that the scammer will use to scam people. There is also an account takeover version of this scam that will involve the scammer sending a password reset token to your phone number and asking you for it. Bitcoin job scams
Bitcoin job scams involve some sort of fraudulent funds transfer, usually a fake check although a fraudulent bank transfer can be used as well. The scammer will send you the fraudulent money and ask you to purchase bitcoins. This is a scam, and you will have zero recourse after you send the scammer bitcoins. Email flooding
If you suddenly receive hundreds or thousands of spam emails, usually subscription confirmations, it's very likely that one of your online accounts has been taken over and is being used fraudulently. You should check any of your accounts that has a credit card linked to it, preferably from a computer other than the one you normally use. You should change all of your passwords to unique passwords and you should start using two factor authentication everywhere. Boss/CEO scam
A scammer will impersonate your boss or someone who works at your company and will ask you to run an errand for them, which will usually be purchasing gift cards and sending them the code. Once the scammer has the code, you have no recourse. Employment certification scams
You will receive a job offer that is dependent on you completing a course or receiving a certification from a company the scammer tells you about. The scammer operates both websites and the job does not exist. Craigslist fake payment scams
Scammers will ask you about your item that you have listed for sale on a site like Craigslist, and will ask to pay you via Paypal. They are scamming you, and the payment in most cases does not actually exist, the email you received was sent by the scammers. In cases where you have received a payment, the scammer can dispute the payment or the payment may be entirely fraudulent. The scammer will then either try to get you to send money to them using the fake funds that they did not send to you, or will ask you to ship the item, usually to a re-shipping facility or a parcel mule. General fraudulent funds scams
The fake check scam is not the only scam that involves accepting fraudulent/fake funds and purchasing items for scammers. If your job or opportunity involves accepting money and then using that money, it is almost certainly a frauduent funds scam. Even if the payment is through a bank transfer, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, Interac e-Transfer, etc, it does not matter. Credit card debt scam
Fraudsters will offer to pay off your bills, and will do so with fraudulent funds. Sometimes it will be your credit card bill, but it can be any bill that can be paid online. Once they pay it off, they will ask you to send them money or purchase items for them. The fraudulent transaction will be reversed in the future and you will never be able to keep the money. This scam happens on sites like Craigslist, Twitter, Instagram, and also some dating sites, including SeekingArrangement. The parcel mule scam
A scammer will contact you with a job opportunity that involves accepting and reshipping packages. The packages are either stolen or fraudulently obtained items, and you will not be paid by the scammer. Here
is a news article about a scam victim who fell for this scam and reshipped over 20 packages containing fraudulently acquired goods. The Skype sex scam
You're on Facebook and you get a friend request from a cute girl you've never met. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. She'll ask you to send pictures or videos or get on webcam where she can see you naked with your face in the picture. The scam: There's no girl. You've sent nudes to a guy pretending to be a girl. As soon as he has the pictures he'll demand money and threaten to send the pictures to your friends and family. Sometimes the scammer will upload the video to a porn site or Youtube to show that they are serious.
What to do if you are a victim of this scam: You cannot buy silence, you can only rent it. Paying the blackmailer will show them that the information they have is valuable and they will come after you for more money. Let your friends and family know that you were scammed and tell them to ignore friend requests or messages from people they don't know. Also, make sure your privacy settings are locked down and consider deactivating your account. The underage girl scam
You're on a dating site or app and you get contacted by a cute girl. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. Eventually she stops communicating and you get a call from a pissed off guy claiming to be the girl's father, or a police officer, or a private investigator, or something else along those lines. Turns out the girl you were sexting is underage, and her parents want some money for various reasons, such as to pay for a new phone, to pay for therapy, etc. There is, of course, no girl. You were communicating with a scammer.
What to do if you are a victim of this scam: Stop picking up the phone when the scammers call. Do not pay them, or they will be after you for more money. Phishing
Phishing is when a scammer tries to trick you into giving information to them, such as your password or private financial information. Phishing messages will usually look very similar to official messages, and sometimes they are identical. If you are ever required to login to a different account in order to use a service, you should be incredibly cautious. The blackmail email scam
The exact wording of the emails varies, but there are generally four main parts. They claim to have placed software/malware on a porn/adult video site, they claim to have a video of you masturbating or watching porn, they threaten to release the video to your friends/family/loved ones/boss/dog, and they demand that you pay them in order for them to delete the video. Rest assured that this is a very common spam campaign and there is no truth behind the email or the threats. Here
scam. The blackmail mail scam
This is very similar to the blackmail email scam, but you will receive a letter in the mail. Rental scams
Usually on local sites like Craigslist, scammers will steal photos from legitimate real estate listings and will list them for rent at or below market rate. They will generally be hesitant to tell you the address of the property for "safety reasons" and you will not be able to see the unit. They will then ask you to pay them a deposit and they claim they will ship you the keys. In reality, your money is gone and you will have no recourse. Craigslist vehicle scams
A scammer will list a vehicle on Craigslist and will offer to ship you the car. In many cases they will also falsely claim to sell you the car through eBay or Amazon. If you are looking for a car on Craigslist and the seller says anything about shipping the car, having an agent, gives you a long story about why they are selling the car, or the listing price is far too low, you are talking to a scammer and you should ignore and move on. Advance-fee scam
, also known as the 419 scam, or the Nigerian prince scam. You will receive a communication from someone who claims that you are entitled to a large sum of money, or you can help them obtain a large sum of money. However, they will need money from you before you receive the large sum. Man in the middle scams
Man in the middle scams are very common and very hard to detect. The scammer will impersonate a company or person you are legitimately doing business with, and they will ask you to send the money to one of their own bank accounts or one controlled by a money mule. They have gained access to the legitimate persons email address, so there will be nothing suspicious about the email. To prevent this, make contact in a different way that lets you verify that the person you are talking to is the person you think you are talking to. Cam girl voting/viewer scam
You will encounter a "cam girl" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to go to their site and sign up with your credit card. They may offer a free show, or ask you to vote for them, or any number of other fake stories. Amateur porn recruitment scam
You will encounter a "pornstar" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to create an adult film with hehim, but first you need to do something. The story here is usually something to do with verifying your age, or you needing to take an STD test that involves sending money to a site operated by the scammer. Hot girl SMS spam
You receive a text from a random number with a message along the lines of "Hey babe I'm here in town again if you wanted to meet up this time, are you around?" accompanied by a NSFW picture of a hot girl. It's spam, and they'll direct you to their scam website that requires a credit card. Identity verification scam
You will encounter someone on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask that you verify your identity as they are worried about catfishing. The scammer operates the site, and you are not talking to whoever you think you are talking to.
This type of scam teases you with something, then tries to make you sign up for something else that costs money. The company involved is often innocent, but they turn a blind eye to the practice as it helps their bottom line, even if they have to occasionally issue refunds. A common variation takes place on dating sites/dating apps, where you will match with someone who claims to be a camgirl who wants you to sign up for a site and vote for her. Another variation takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where the scammers setup fake rental scams and demand that you go through a specific service for a credit check. Once you go through with it, the scammer will stop talking to you. Another variation also takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where scammers will contact you while you are selling a car and will ask you to purchase a Carfax-like report from a specific website. Multi Level Marketing or Affiliate Marketing
You apply for a vague job listing for 'sales' on craigslist. Or maybe an old friend from high school adds you on Facebook and says they have an amazing business opportunity for you. Or maybe the well dressed guy who's always interviewing people in the Starbucks that you work at asks if you really want to be slinging coffee the rest of your life. The scam: MLMs are little more than pyramid schemes. They involve buying some sort of product (usually snake oil health products like body wraps or supplements) and shilling them to your friends and family. They claim that the really money is recruiting people underneath you who give you a slice of whatever they sell. And if those people underneath you recruit more people, you get a piece of their sales. Ideally if you big enough pyramid underneath you the money will roll in without any work on your part. Failure to see any profit will be your fault for not "wanting it enough." The companies will claim that you need to buy their extra training modules or webinars to really start selling. But in reality, the vast majority of people who buy into a MLM won't see a cent. At the end of the day all you'll be doing is annoying your friends and family with your constant recruitment efforts. What to look out for: Recruiters love to be vague. They won't tell you the name of the company or what exactly the job will entail. They'll pump you up with promises of "self-generating income", "being your own boss", and "owning your own company." They might ask you to read books about success and entrepreneurs. They're hoping you buy into the dream first. If you get approached via social media, check their timelines. MLMs will often instruct their victims to pretend that they've already made it. They'll constantly post about how they're hustling and making the big bucks and linking to youtube videos about success. Again, all very vague about what their job actually entails. If you think you're being recruited: Ask them what exactly the job is. If they can't answer its probably a MLM. Just walk away.
You should generally avoid answering or engaging with random phone calls. Picking up and engaging with a scam call tells the scammers that your phone number is active, and will usually lead to more calls. Tax Call
You get a call from somebody claiming to be from your countries tax agency. They say you have unpaid taxes that need to be paid immediately, and you may be arrested or have other legal action taken against you if it is not paid. This scam has caused the American IRS
, Canadian CRA
, British HMRC
, and Australian Tax Office
to issue warnings. This scam happens in a wide variety of countries all over the world. Warrant Call
Very similar to the tax call. You'll get a phone call from an "agent", "officer", "sheriff", or other law enforcement officer claiming that there is a warrant out for your arrest and you will be arrested very soon. They will then offer to settle everything for a fee, usually paid in giftcards. [Legal Documents/Process Server Calls]
Very similar to the warrant call. You'll get a phone call from a scammer claiming that they are going to serve you legal documents, and they will threaten you with legal consequences if you refuse to comply. They may call themselves "investigators", and will sometimes give you a fake case number. Student Loan Forgiveness Scam
Scammers will call you and tell you about a student loan forgiveness program, but they are interested in obtaining private information about you or demanding money in order to join the fake program. Tech Support Call
You receive a call from someone with a heavy accent claiming to be a technician Microsoft or your ISP. They inform you that your PC has a virus and your online banking and other accounts may be compromised if the virus is not removed. They'll have you type in commands and view diagnostics on your PC which shows proof of the virus. Then they'll have you install remote support software so the technician can work on your PC, remove the virus, and install security software. The cost of the labor and software can be hundreds of dollars. The scam: There's no virus. The technician isn't a technician and does not work for Microsoft or your ISP. Scammers (primarily out of India) use autodialers to cold-call everyone in the US. Any file they point out to you or command they have you run is completely benign. The software they sell you is either freeware or ineffective. What to do you if you're involved with this scam: If the scammers are remotely on your computer as you read this, turn off your PC or laptop via the power button immediately, and then if possible unplug your internet connection. Some of the more vindictive tech scammers have been known to create boot passwords on your computer if they think you've become wise to them and aren't going to pay up. Hang up on the scammers, block the number, and ignore any threats about payment. Performing a system restore on your PC is usually all that is required to remove the scammer's common remote access software. Reports of identity theft from fake tech calls are uncommon, but it would still be a good idea to change your passwords for online banking and monitor your accounts for any possible fraud. How to avoid: Ignore any calls claiming that your PC has a virus. Microsoft will never contact you. If you're unsure if a call claiming to be from your ISP is legit, hang up, and then dial the customer support number listed on a recent bill. If you have elderly relatives or family that isn't tech savvy, take the time to fill them in on this scam. Chinese government scam
This scam is aimed at Chinese people living in Europe and North America, and involves a voicemail from someone claiming to be associated with the Chinese government, usually through the Chinese consulate/embassy, who is threatening legal action or making general threats. Chinese shipping scam
This scam is similar to the Chinese government scam, but involves a seized/suspicious package, and the scammers will connect the victim to other scammers posing as Chinese government investigators. Social security suspension scam
You will receive a call from someone claiming to work for the government regarding suspicious activity, fraud, or serious crimes connected to your social security number. You'll be asked to speak to an operator and the operator will explain the steps you need to follow in order to fix the problems. It's all a scam, and will lead to you losing money and could lead to identity theft if you give them private financial information. Utilities cutoff
You get a call from someone who claims that they are from your utility company, and they claim that your utilities will be shut off unless you immediately pay. The scammer will usually ask for payment via gift cards, although they may ask for payment in other ways, such as Western Union or bitcoin. Relative in custody
Scammer claims to be the police, and they have your son/daughtenephew/estranged twin in custody. You need to post bail (for some reason in iTunes gift cards or MoneyGram) immediately or the consequences will never be the same
. Mexican family scam
This scam comes in many different flavours, but always involves someone in your family and Mexico. Sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been detained, sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been kidnapped, and sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member is injured and needs help. General family scams
Scammers will gather a large amount of information about you and target your family members using different stories with the goal of gettimg them to send money. One ring scam
Scammers will call you from an international number with the goal of getting you to return their call, causing you to incur expensive calling fees.
Online shopping scams THE GOLDEN RULE OF ONLINE SHOPPING: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Dropshipping
An ad on reddit or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offers items at huge discounts or even free (sometimes requiring you to reblog or like their page). They just ask you to pay shipping. The scam: The item will turn out to be very low quality and will take weeks or even months to arrive. Sometimes the item never arrives, and the store disappears or stops responding. The seller drop-ships the item from China. The item may only cost a few dollars, and the Chinese government actually pays for the shipping. You end up paying $10-$15 dollars for a $4 item, with the scammer keeping the profit. If you find one of these scams but really have your heart set on the item, you can find it on AliExpress or another Chinese retailer. Influencer scams
A user will reach out to you on a social media platform, usually Instagram, and offer you the chance to partner with them and receive a free/discounted product, as long as you pay shipping. This is a different version of the dropshipping scam, and is just a marketing technique to get you to buy their products. Triangulation fraud
Triangulation fraud occurs when you make a purchase on a site like Amazon or eBay for an item at a lower than market price, and receive an item that was clearly purchased new at full price. The scammer uses a stolen credit card to order your item, while the money from the listing is almost all profit for the scammer. Instagram influencer scams
Someone will message you on Instagram asking you to promote their products, and offering you a discount code. The items are Chinese junk, and the offer is made to many people at a time. Cheap Items
Many websites pop up and offer expensive products, including electronics, clothes, watches, sunglasses, and shoes at very low prices. The scam: Some sites are selling cheap knock-offs. Some will just take your money and run. What to do if you think you're involved with this scam: Contact your bank or credit card and dispute the charge. How to avoid: The sites often have every brand-name shoe or fashion item (Air Jordan, Yeezy, Gucci, etc) in stock and often at a discounted price. The site will claim to be an outlet for a major brand or even a specific line or item. The site will have images at the bottom claiming to be Secured by Norton or various official payment processors but not actual links. The site will have poor grammar and a mish-mash of categories. Recently, established websites will get hacked or their domain name jacked and turned into scam stores, meaning the domain name of the store will be completely unrelated to the items they're selling. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Nobody is offering brand new iPhones or Beats or Nintendo Switches for 75% off. Cheap Amazon 3rd Party Items
You're on Amazon or maybe just Googling for an item and you see it for an unbelievable price from a third-party seller. You know Amazon has your back so you order it. The scam: One of three things usually happen: 1) The seller marks the items as shipped and sends a fake tracking number. Amazon releases the funds to the seller, and the seller disappears. Amazon ultimately refunds your money. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to re-order the item directly from their website, usually with the guarantee that the order is still protected by Amazon. The seller takes your money and runs. Amazon informs you that they do not offer protection on items sold outside of Amazon and cannot help you. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to instead send payment via an unused Amazon gift card by sending the code on the back via email. Once the seller uses the code, the money on the card is gone and cannot be refunded. How to avoid: These scammers can be identified by looking at their Amazon storefronts. They'll be brand new sellers offering a wide range of items at unbelievable prices. Usually their Amazon names will be gibberish, or a variation on FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME. Occasionally however, established storefronts will be hacked. If the deal is too good to be true its most likely a scam. Scams on eBay
There are scams on eBay targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who privately message you regarding the order, especially if they ask you to ship to a different address or ask to negotiate via text/email/a messaging service. As a buyer you should look out for new accounts selling in-demand items, established accounts selling in-demand items that they have no previous connection to (you can check their feedback history for a general idea of what they bought/sold in the past), and lookout for people who ask you to go off eBay and use another service to complete the transaction. In many cases you will receive a fake tracking number and your money will be help up for up to a month. Scams on Amazon
There are scams on Amazon targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who message you about a listing. As a buyer you should look out for listings that have an email address for you to contact the person to complete the transaction, and you should look out for cheap listings of in-demand items. Scams on Reddit
Reddit accounts are frequently purchased and sold by fraudsters who wish to use the high karma count + the age of the account to scam people on buy/sell subreddits. You need to take precautions and be safe whenever you are making a transaction online. Computer scams Virus scam
A popup or other ad will say that you have a virus and you need to follow their advice in order to remove it. They are lying, and either want you to install malware or pay for their software.
Assorted scams Chinese Brushing / direct shipping
If you have ever received an unsolicited small package from China, your address was used to brush
. Vendors place fake orders for their own products and send out the orders so that they can increase their ratings. Money flipping
Scammer claims to be a banking insider who can double/triple/bazoople any amount of money you send them, with no consequences of any kind. Obviously, the money disappears into their wallet the moment you send it.
Door to door scams As a general rule, you should not engage with door to door salesmen. If you are interested in the product they are selling, check online first. Selling Magazines
Someone or a group will come to your door and offer to sell a magazine subscription. Often the subscriptions are not for the duration or price you were told, and the magazines will often have tough or impossible cancellation policies. Energy sales
Somebody will come to your door claiming to be from an energy company. They will ask to see your current energy bill so that they can see how much you pay. They will then offer you a discount if you sign up with them, and promise to handle everything with your old provider. Some of these scammers will "slam" you, by using your account number that they saw on your bill to switch you to their service without authorization, and some will scam you by charging higher prices than the ones you agreed on. Security system scams
Scammers will come to your door and ask about your security system, and offer to sell you a new one. These scammers are either selling you overpriced low quality products, or are casing your home for a future burglary. They ask to enter your home
While trying to sell you whatever, they suddenly need to use your bathroom, or they've been writing against the wall and ask to use your table instead. Or maybe they just moved into the neighborhood and want to see how you decorate for ideas.
They're scoping out you and your place. They want to see what valuables you have, how gullible you are, if you have a security system or dogs, etc.
Street scams Begging With a Purpose
"I just need a few more dollars for the bus," at the bus station, or "I just need $5 to get some gas," at a gas station. There's also a variation where you will be presented with a reward: "I just need money for a cab to get uptown, but I'll give you sports tickets/money/a date/a priceless vase." Three Card Monte, Also Known As The Shell Game
Unbeatable. The people you see winning are in on the scam. Drop and Break
You bump into someone and they drop their phone/glasses/fancy bottle of wine/priceless vase and demand you pay them back. In reality, it's a $2 pair of reading glasses/bottle of three-buck-chuck/tasteful but affordable vase. CD Sales
You're handed a free CD so you can check out the artist's music. They then ask for your name and immediately write it on the CD. Once they've signed your name, they ask you for money, saying they can't give it to someone else now. Often they use dry erase markers, or cheap CD sleeves. Never use any type of storage device given to you by a random person, as the device can contain malware. White Van Speaker Scam
You're approached and offered speakers/leather jackets/other luxury goods at a discount. The scammer will have an excuse as to why the price is so low. After you buy them, you'll discover that they are worthless. iPhone Street Sale
You're approached and shown an iPhone for sale, coming in the box, but it's open and you can see the phone. If you buy the phone, you'll get an iPhone box with no iPhone, just some stones or cheap metal in it to weigh it down. Buddhist Monk Pendant
A monk in traditional garb approaches you, hands you a gold trinket, and asks for a donation. He holds either a notebook with names and amounts of donation (usually everyone else has donated $5+), or a leaflet with generic info. This is fairly common in NYC, and these guys get aggressive quickly. Friendship Bracelet Scam
More common in western Europe, you're approached by someone selling bracelets. They quickly wrap a loop of fabric around your finger and pull it tight, starting to quickly weave a bracelet. The only way to (easily) get it off your hand is to pay. Leftover sales
This scam involves many different items, but the idea is usually the same: you are approached by someone who claims to have a large amount of excess inventory and offers to sell it to you at a great price. The scammer actually has low quality items and will lie to you about the price/origin of the items. Dent repair scams
Scammers will approach you in public about a dent in your car and offer to fix it for a low price. Often they will claim that they are mechanics. They will not fix the dent in your car, but they will apply large amounts of wax or other substances to hide the dent while they claim that the substance requires time to harden. Gold ring/jewelry/valuable item scam
A scammer will "find" a gold ring or other valuable item and offers to sell it to you. The item is fake and you will never see the scammer again. Distraction theft
One person will approach you and distract you, while their accomplice picks your pockets. The distraction can take many forms, but if you are a tourist and are approached in public, watch closely for people getting close to you.
Site to report scams in the United Kingdom: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Site to report scams in the United States: https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
Site to report scams in Canada: www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm
Site to report scams in Europe: https://www.europol.europa.eu/report-a-crime/report-cybercrime-online
FTC scam alerts: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts
Microsoft's anti-scam guide: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx https://www.usa.gov/common-scams-frauds https://www.usa.gov/scams-and-frauds https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes
Continuing… submitted by
“I do not know, Rock”, he slightly slurred, as he was working on Yorshch number 3, “I have never before traveled out this far beyond the city.”
“Wait one.”, I demand, “You’re a 5th-year geology student and never been out of the city? Don’t you go on field trips?”
“They are forbidden.”, he smiled back, “That’s one reason I decided to go with you on your bus.”
I looked at Dax, Ivan, and Morse.
“Un-be-fucking-believable.” I uttered.
Even more un-be-fucking-believable was the “Rancho Bright Star” Motor Hotel. Right here, in the wilds of Best Korea.
We pull into the parking lot of the motel, and the bus parks down about 300 meters along the side of a small lake.
Yes, a small lake. Complete with piers, those goofy swan-boats
you peddle along in, and paddle boats
OK, let me try and set this surreal scene. We’re out in the wilds of Best Korea, somewhere northeast of Pyongyang, between Kaechon and Tokchan as best as we can figure it.
We have just pulled into a roadside motel that is a displaced molecule of the 1950s western US.
There is a central unpaved elliptical trackway, around 350-450 meters to a side.
The east side borders on a suspiciously man-made looking lake complete with paddle boats, piers, and benches for sitting while gazing out over the wonders of this diminutive out-of-place body of water. The motel boasts rental fishing gear, bait for sale, and swim toys such as lie-lows, rafts, rings, and the like for guests intent on lake frolicking.
In the center of the ellipse are wooden beach-style chairs, lounges, seats, and benches. There is a large pile of firewood and a central fire pit.
On the western side of the ellipse are a zig-zag series of single-and-double occupancy cabanas. There are exactly 19 of them. All identical, all with wide bay-windows to overlook the glories of the parking lot and the faux-lake beyond.
Also on the western side, but set back slightly, just after the entrance; is the front office building, central store, and restaurant.
We all walk off the bus, just scrutinizing and gawping where we’ve arrived.
As an American, I think I was the most confounded by all this. I’ve stayed at places in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, and New Mexico that looked identical to this place. However, that was almost 50 years ago.
The Canadians, Europeans, Russians, and other assorted geographical sundry might have seen pictures like this in Like® and LOOK® magazines, but they’ve never before really experienced them. They were just befuddled and amused.
I was genuinely and abnormally speechless. But I recovered quickly.
We were told by Jak, Mac, Tak, and Pak to go and stake out a cabana for ourselves. They would retrieve the keys for each and have them distributed them as necessary. Our luggage would be taken off the bus and brought to our cabanas by motel employees once we were all set and sorted.
“Ones who can read English, Russian, Portuguese, Canuckian?” I mused. “More of the shiny-suit squad, undercover division.”
We all took our respective cabanas and luggage was quickly distributed. I was somewhat abstemiously impressed at the efficiency.
The cabanas were new. Not just ‘slightly used’, or ‘sort of new’; I mean brand-spanking, brushed aluminum, and Molly-be-damned new. We couldn’t have been the second or third guests in here. The only blemish that betrayed any previous occupant was a minor cigarette burn on the side of the washbasin in the small bathroom.
The cabanas all had a nice, firm bed, a table, a few chairs, a fully stocked mini-bar, no phone, but a television and nausea-inducing-color shag-pile carpeting.
a real throwback to the 1950s.
My reverie was interrupted by a knock on my cabana door.
“Dinner in 30 minutes. Main restaurant. Front of complex.” barked an orderly.
“WOOF!” I barked back.
Not knowing if this was a dry county of Korea, I decided to grab a bottle of vodka and a couple of beers out of my private stash to accompany me to dinner. I decided to finish the cigar I already had lit rather than light another for the long slog to the restaurant.
About 15 minutes later, I’m swinging a liter bottle of real 100-octane Russian vodka like a dinner bell. I have two tall cans of Taedonggang Special Dark in the pockets of my field shorts. I have on my best, new, and most hopelessly garish Hawaiian shirt, “Laika was the First Party Animal” T-shirt, freshly whisked field boots, and my obligatory Stetson. Of course, I was chomping a cigar; but it was new and as of yet, unlit.
I arrived at the hotel front office and was steered to the back where the restaurant lived. There were placards at each seat with our names and affiliations, albeit in Korean. Luckily, a quasi-sober young Mr. Myung was there and helped us find our proper seats.
I was at one end of the table and it was Dr. Academician Ivan at the other end. Evidently, in Korea, it’s a big, fat, hairy deal where one is seated at the table during these assembly dinners. I was at one end by dint of being the team leader and Ivan the other as he was the oldest old fart on the team.
“Nonsense!”, I said, as I dragged young Mr. Myung from his seat and plopped him down at the head of the table where I was bid to sit.
“The man of the hour!” I said. No one, except for young Myung, complained in the least.
I poured him a very stiff drink.
“Cool out.” I exhorted, “You need to learn to observe, to learn...” I smiled.
Evidently our guides, No, Kong, and that crowd, were eating elsewhere that evening.
However, Pak, Mac, Jak, and Tak of the shiny suit squad were joining us on that eventide for victuals.
I held up my unlit cigar and asked the crowd: “Objections?”
There were none as most were smoking cigarettes or pipes by this point.
I pulled out the brace of beers I brought along and set the liter of vodka to the right-hand side of my plate.
A most Russian maneuver.
I looked down the table. Not a single one of us failed to bring along something high-powered to drink. It was unanimous. Not a single geologist there, save for young Myung, failed to bring along a Safety Blitz.
It proved unnecessary, as the shiny suit squad shuffled in, sat down, and barked orders to the rarified air.
Bottles of local beer, nicely chilled, appeared for everyone. Bottles of local hooch also appeared and were distributed around the table at strategic intervals. Our unopened personal drinks were set aside for later. We wouldn’t want to seem ungallant now, would we?
It was all very proper, that first set of table toasts.
The shiny suit squad was wound pretty tightly that night. What with a bunch of self-thinking and operating western geoscientists doing whatever the hell they saw fit, the young Hero of Best Korea, a stowaway, but finder of new dinosaurs. I think we just overloaded them with new, unmanageable, voluminous, and contradictory information.
They were used to servile, subservient sheep; not crotchety old knurled rams like us.
Of course, we had two Russians in attendance, plus an American who spent many years in Russia and thus considered a naturalized, though still rough-around-the-edges, Russian.
It’s didn’t take long, but after the first wan and halfhearted toast to the east and the west and various other sundry semi-pleasantries, one or more Russians would take over the chore of Tamandar, or toastmaster.
Professor Dr. Academician Ivan leads off between the first round of drinks and the limp, grisly-looking semi-green salad course.
Dr. Ivan: “Давайте выпьем за успех нашего дела!”[Let us drink to the success of our project!]
There were the appropriate responses and “Here, here's!”
Then, Dr. Ivan noticed our hosts in the shiny suits were solely social sippers.
Toasting is a seriously big deal. Once a toast has been voiced in someone’s honor, drinkers who participated in the toast are expected to drink their glass dry as a show of respect to the toastee.
Only a sip? This will not do…
“Пусть мы будем страдать так же печально, как капли водки, которые мы собираемся оставить в наших очках! [May we suffer as much sorrow as drops of vodka we are about to leave in our glasses!] Dr. Morse commands.
In other words: “Bottoms Up!”
However, the glasses are always topped up after every toast – this is called “osvezhit” [refresh] in Russia.
And so, not with a whimper, but with a bang, the evening began…
There were bottles of Korean Soju, of course, in many different flavors and strengths. We left the lighter stuff for the guys in the shiny suits. We were soon inadvertently and unknowingly publicly shaming them by only opting for refills with the highest octane of the brands available.
They took that as sort of an affront; perhaps not intentional, but damned if they’d let a mob of western geologists get the better of them
You can see where this is headed, can’t you?
Along with the Soju, there was Hongju
, a red-colored and oddly-tasting liquor of local origin. There was Okroju
, a millet, rice or sorghum-sourced distillate of around 90 proof. Also present was Munbae-ju
, a pear-flavored drink with a mild, 80 proof kick.
Aside from distilled spirits, several types of wine, such as maesil-ju
(plum wine), and bokbunja-ju
made their appearance, as well as the ubiquitous beer. Apart from the offerings of the Taedonggang Brewing Company, there were Chinese beers like Tsingtao and Harbin, along with some, surprisingly, European beers like Erdinger, Tiger, Bavarian Pils, and Heineken.
The non-Korean beers were not included in the cost of the meal, so I slid the head waiter some 75,000 won, or about USD$60.00.
“Is that going to be enough to cover the drinks tonight?” I asked Myung to translate.
“Tonight. Tomorrow. Next week. Yes!” He laughed. He was finally getting into the spirit and spirits of the evening.
OK, drinks were handled. We also had our own supplies with us and larger larders back in our cabanas; just in case.
The fuse was well and properly lit.
After the salad; a soup course of thin, some sort of edible, we hoped, animal broth was served. We scrupulously knew to say nothing but high praise about the food we were being offered, even though it was others (the UN Discretionary Forces) that were paying for this ‘feast’.
The toasts ran from the light: “Good to be in good country with good friends”. Thanks, Dax.
To the ridiculous: “May the fate of our countries aspire as high as the esteem we have for this banquet.”
OK, I laid it on a bit thick with that one. Every Westerner snickered; they saw right through my verbal façade. The shiny suit squad was definitely getting slightly swozzled, as I saw one surreptitiously swipe away a tear in appreciation of such high homage.
Over the meat course, which bets are still out pending results of the DNA tests Erle will run once back in Calgary as to species; we had time to sit, reflect, have a smoke, and relax a while.
Of course, Dr. Morse chose this time to take his Tamandar duties out for a little exercise.
More toasts. More bottoms up! incitements. More beer! More wine! Don’t let your glass go dry. Try this! Try that! What the fuck is this other thing?
“Up your bottoms!” one of the shiny suits said in a fit of shaky oriental reverie.
The empties pile grew at a prodigious rate. One box was for liquor bottles, deader than Julius Caesar. Another for wine bottles. Yet another for cans, bottles, and bags of beer; which we thought most amusing.
The dinner wore on, all 7 courses of gustatory delight. In between each, a round of toasts which, by now, had orbited the table once and was attempting re-entry.
The geoscientists by this point were just getting started. After the mystery meat, sweet puddings, cakes, and pie for afters, and a cheese board with wine course; our hosts thought we’d all be either so exhausted or shitfaced that we’d have to be dragged to our cabanas via forklift. Or ox-cart, whichever was most convenient.
Sorry, nae chingu
[my friend], not this crowd. There was a fire pit outside, a lake that needed investigating, swan boats that needed to be tested for seaworthiness, and loads and loads of beer, wine, and booze that required drinking.
Besides, we needed to curate our hand samples. We still had some real work to do.
After the final toast; Pak, the head of the shiny suits stood, wobbly, and bade us good night.
We all replied ‘good night’ to him, and as a man, stood up, grabbed all the liquor we could carry, and headed to the firepit and chairs outside by the lake.
The absolute, abject appearance of alcohol-tainted alarm on their faces was one I wish I could have captured on film.
Dax was there first and began building a council fire in the firepit. Have to hand it to the crazy Canuck, he knew his campfires. He had a roaring blaze going within the space of 10 minutes.
We all re-adjusted our chairs around the campfire and attended to our samples. The larger portion of the hand sample would go into the bigger bag for testing and identification. A small piece representative of the whole would go into the smaller bag. All field tags would be filled out with proper identification numbers. The smaller bags were tossed into a common pile for future laboratory investigation; the larger bags, by dint of their mass, would go into the cargo hold of the bus. No matter how you sliced it, there would always be samples for analysis; one size or the other.
That took about a half an hour and during that magical time, little was said, although vast amounts of beer and liquor, as well as cigars and cigarettes, disappeared. This was a solemn field-time tradition. It was the traditional cap to the day in the field.
After that, the really serious drinking and relaxation set in.
We all sat around the fire, and in the spirit of the Four Yorkshiremen
, spontaneous field stories broke out.
Pak, Tak, Jak, and Mak joined us; but at a bit of a refined distance. They really, really wanted to go to bed, or call their superiors and report what they were being forced to go through, or be just about anywhere else on the planet rather than here.
Now the drinking began to get serious.
“Rock”, Dax said, “You old duffer. Regale us with the tale of your finely fuckered fingers.”
There were a few audible gasps around the fire at that time. Everyone knew of my physical deformity but scrupulously avoided mentioning it out of fear of breaching propriety.
“Why, Dax!”, I said loudly, superficially fighting back real pain, “God damn. You know how sensitive I am about my hand! Fuck! How can you ask? Such unmitigated gall! Such hubris! I am appalled and aghast!” I whiled down to a sullen silence…
Even the guys in the shiny suit squad looked horror-struck. How could one callout an obvious bodily deformity much less make light of it?
“Oh, sorry, Rock”, Dax quietly replied, “Is there anything I can do to recompense?”
The entire crew went silent while they waited for my reply.
“Um….yeah…well,” I said quietly.
Then I said very loudly: “Get off yer dead ass and make me a stiff fucking drink while I tell everyone here of my Siberian close-shave, ya’ hoser!”
I was able to dodge most of the empties thrown my way, but I did catch a couple right in my gaudy new Hawaiian shirt.
I spent the better part of a half an hour regaling all present with my tale of finger-fuckery. The lost circulation, the spraying mud, fire on the rig, the worm, and the power tongs, all in most-detailed Technicolor and ethanol-fueled anecdotalism.
They laughed, they gasped, they got white at some junctures. I didn’t leave out anything. It was a full 10-gauge recitation. I mentioned the current tantalum implants I’m testing and told them of earlier titanium rejections and all
the pain and suffering.
Oh, the pain. Yes, Dax, I do need another. Make it a double.
“Vodka does not ease pain. But it does get your mind off it.” I was heard to utter.
Not to be outdone, Dr. Academician Ivan delighted us with his tales of being buried in an avalanche up above the Arctic Circle, high in the big-latitudes near Franz Joseph Land.
Right. Now everyone was getting in on the revelry.
We heard harrowing tales of auto accidents out in the field; errant drainage ditches and an ancient field vehicle going way too fast. Falling off outcrops or being beaned by errant gravity-induced rocks. Talus slides, rock falls, landslides, flood, storms, earthquakes, volcanos, rhyolite ash-fall tuffs…the litany went on and on.
Each got more lurid as the empties pile began to grow. Pak, Mac, Tak, and Jak were sipping their drinks but I think their growing green hue was due to our stories of near and not so near misses.
Joon, the tall Finn, stood up and in front of the whole fraternity, dropped trou and exposed the back of his right leg for all to see. A four-fold gash of scar-tissue alongside his cute little tighty-whities.
“Bear attack. In the woods searching for this lost outcrop. Taking samples for geochemical analysis for my Master’s, bear mauled me from behind!” Joon explained.
We were at that point in the revelry that someone just had to ask “Are you sure that’s all the bear had in mind?”
Even Joon thought that to be riotously funny.
The shiny suit squad, somewhere during the narrative, went from “Trying to keep up and not appear loaded” to “I don’t give a fuck. I’m going to show these guys!” drunk.
I’m sitting there, in near proximity to the roaring fire, smoking a huge cigar, three cans of beer of various fullness to my left, and a ¾ bottle of real high potency Russian vodka to my right. I’m exchanging quips, insults, and stories along with the rest of the crowd; just as time-honored traditions demand.
We’re all drinking like, well, a whole group of seasoned field geologists camping out in the field after a successful day in the field.
Mr. Myung is laughing uproariously. He was even loosening up enough to make some not terribly pleasant observations about his home country and dear AWOL
leader. He figured that as long as he was in the clan of geologists, we’d protect him.
Mr. Pak of the shiny suit squad wanders up and has a listen. After a few minutes, he wobbles over to me and tells me, nay, orders me, to stand up.
The crowd goes silent. Propriety has been breached. Not North Korean decorum, but the sanctity of the geological field campfire.
“No one gets vexed and ratty around the fire. Stow it for another time, Chuckles.”
“You. Large American. Stand up and face me.” He orders.
“Which one?” I laughed back at him.
“What?” he asked, slurring slightly.
“Well if stand up, I certainly can’t face you unless you hop up here in this chair,” I said.
“Stand Up, American!” he officiously orders.
Silence from the crowd. All that is heard is the snap and crackle of the council fire.
So, I stand up. Cigar firmly in jaw, one hand on the arm of the chair, the other tending to my can of Heineken and Russkaya yorshch.
“Yes?” I ask.
“I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, and I don’t swear. Oh shit! I do smoke and drink!” he laughs, nearly falling over at his jest, punching me lightly on the arm.
“May I please have one of your cigars?” he drunkenly asks and falls forward so that I need to react quickly and catch him before he face-plants.
“Of course!” I say. “Would any of your friends wish one as well?”
I look over and there are three heads bobbing like those little bobbly doggy statues idiot people put on the dashboards of their cars.
“Well then!”, I order, “Get your happy camper asses over here and join us!”
Everyone around the fire hoots and yells in agreement.
They slowly, sloppily, and shakily wander their chairs over and seat themselves around the fire ring.
I clip the ends of four of my ‘give away’ cigars, as I’m sure a Triple-Maduro Camacho would probably kill them in their current state. Still, they are stout Cuban seconds, and by that, still highly-potent cigars.
“No, you knothead. Wait for the tip to glow. Then puff, you goof!” I exhort them.
I ask Dax to rustle up four of the plastic cups that have been circulating around the campfire. He finds a double brace of them, briefly washes them out, and hands them to me.
I distribute one each to Tak, Pak, Mac, and Jak.
“The only way to really enjoy a fine cigar is to enjoy it with a fine drink. Here. Hold out your cups.” I ordered.
I pour them each about 100 milliliters of Russian 100-proof vodka, and I take the time to re-freshen my Yorshch.
“Geongang-e” [To your health!], I say, as the Korean toast is easy to remember if you break it down as Geo-n-gang-E!
They smile. They laugh. The go white as I polish off my Yorshch and turn the can upside down. Not a drop spilled out, just as it should be.
Have to give them credit, they each choked down that ration of booze. However, I think they forget about the lit cigars they had in their other hands.
“YEEOUCH!” Pak cried after he jabbed the charcoal of his cigar into the back of his hand.
“That’s how it starts, Mr. Pak. Keep that up and you’ll end up like this!” I shout and wave my keloidified and scarred hand under his nose.
He almost passes out, but his chair caught him this time.
The roars of laughter around the campfire at this time is one of my best memories of the whole trip as other inveigles them to try their particular favorite booze.
The reverie’s going along at a fine clip. Small sub-groups clump together to discuss one thing or another, mostly geological minutaea about the day's happenings.
Suddenly, Grako stands up.
“What’s the story on this lake? Good fishing?” he asks the collective.
Mak looks up; really, really, drunk off his pins. “It is fake lake. Some fish have been planted. It is more for show and swim.”
Jak lolls his head around to agree with Mak.
Tak looks like he’s going to add to the conversation, but just slurps another draft of his multiple-origin drink.
Pak, on the other hand, leaps up and is running. First goes the shirt and tie. Then the shoes. Then pants. He’s down to drawers and runs at full tilt to the pier that extends some 50 meters out over the lake. He hit that pier like Evel Knievel hitting the Snake River Canyon Jump. We watch him accelerate over the wooden pier, and we’re all laughing like loons shouting “GO! GO! GO!”
He flew a good distance and hit the water with an enormous splash. He swims over to one of the untethered swan boats and hangs on for dear life.
To a man, we all stood up and applauded.
It was warm out, so I decided that a dip might just be the thing. I lose my shorts and Hawaiian shirt, but keep my lit cigar, vodka bottle, and Stetson. I slowly get up and walk toward the lake. To the edge of the water and right into the point where neutral buoyancy takes over. Dax follows, and walking out on the dock, laughs and tosses me a swim ring.
“Here, now you won’t sink and douse your cigar.” He laughs.
He strips down to skivvies and dives in as well.
I’m bobbing around just keeping my head and cigar out of the water. My cigar is lit and my vodka bottle is nestled in the crease of my Stetson. The water’s warm, suspiciously so. I don’t give it another thought as it’s actually quite pleasant and quite possibly radioactive.
Then the rest of the crowd decides that a midnight dip would be just the thing.
Mr. Pak was eventually found alive, still clinging to the swan boat. Dax and Joon dragged him over to the pier and tossed him up there so he wouldn’t drown.
He was, as we say back home, “Fully Krausened.”
The rest of the shiny suit squad were sound-out in their chairs. They were sonorously snoring along, adding an interesting one-note counterpart to the harmony of the crackling campfire.
We all out in the lake, bobbing and paddling along. Viv grabbed a cooler full of beer and we develop a fine game of keeping the cooler afloat as we withdraw full beers and invested our empties.
I toss in my vodka bottle so anyone who wants to augment his beer is free and clear to do so.
Some folks are not one with the water, so after ten or fifteen minutes, some of them ease back to the campfire. They re-stoke it to its former glory and are dry within minutes.
Old water dogs like Dax, Ivan, myself, Viv, and Erlen are floating along, smoking our cigars, drinking our drinks of choice, and scanning the skies of satellites, meteorites, and anything else that might crop up on this clear, cloudless night. Gad, it was pitch black, save for the glow of the fire, starlit, cloudless, and starlit. Beauty of a sight, the stellar backbone of the night.
After an hour or so, we decide it’s time to get back to shore. Back we go and around the campfire, the shiny suit squad are snoring soundly and one or more of our team decides it’s time for some kip.
The old-timers, Ivan, my own self, Dax, and Viv all hang around the fire for a while longer.
“It’s so nice out here tonight”, I comment, “Who would have thought this is the way things would work out when we were contacted for this project?”
Several comments of agreement are heard. Then we hear a wan, squeaky voice from behind us.
“Ah! Yes, Mr. Pak”, I ask. “Grab you a beer?”
“Oh, no…I now remember…must tell you, gentlemen…tomorrow morning…local school children will be coming. Perform Korean dance and songs for your pleasure. 1000 hours. Good night.”, as he drags himself soggily and overwhelmed to his cabana.
“1000? Holy Wow. Pass me a beer. It’s still early then.” I laugh, as I retrieve the vodka from Ivan and Morse.
We all cratered abound an hour or hour and a half later. The room was most comfortable and seemingly secure. Since our handlers, er…guides were nowhere to be seen that evening, and the shiny suit squad got a little lubricated, well, we were certainly on our own.
One sleep later, and after a brisk morning shower with a brace of breakfast beers, I was over at the restaurant scanning the breakfast menu. Damn, I was downright peckish.
Most everyone was there. Young Myung, although looking a bit frazzled around the edges. Most all the Westerners, except Dax. He was down at the lake, trying his luck at fishing.
After eggs, toast, sausage, and coffee; we wandered with a CARE package for Dax. He had landed some very nice trout-looking sort of fish and was planning on presenting them to Pak and his crowd.
“Dax”, I said, “After last night’s festivities, that’s just pure evil”, and smiled.
“Just trying to b neighborly”, he explains.
It’s about 0930 and Pak and his crew are in the restaurant. They are looking very, very haggard. Very rough around the edges, right through to the core. We thought it would be too nasty to send them a round of breakfast drinks, but Viv had to talk me out of a round of Bloody Marys.
Dax took care of that and presented them three of the fish he had just caught.
Olive-green isn’t a usual Oriental color, now is it? Pak, Mac, Tak, and Jak all corroborated that conclusion.
They accepted the fish gratefully and had the head waiter whisk them away as quickly as possible.
We all sit down for coffee and pastries while we wait for the kids to show up.
I fire up a cigar. Others are smoking cigarettes or pipes, and talking excitedly about getting back into the field.
“How? How? How is it possible?” Pak asks.
“Who what, Mr. Pak?” I ask.
“How can you be so…undamaged by last night?” he asks.
“What? That little campfire meeting? Genetics, I guess. Wait. I’ll ask around.” I stand up and ask for attention.
“Gentlemen, Mr. Pak here wants to know how we feel after last night,” I say.
“How should we feel? It was a field night. I feel fine.” Gracko says.
Dax agrees, “Fine fettle. Never felt fettler.”
Dr. Academician Ivan replies, “Must be superiority of Russian upbringing and culture. You should see real Russian party!”
One after the other relate how they feel just fine and are looking forward to another full field day.
The waiter arrives with dry toast and tea for the shiny suit squad. We order beers to go with our smokes.
“You people are inhuman.” Mr. Pak moans.
“Nah. Just geologists. The only ethanol-fueled organisms in existence!” We laugh. “Vodka is just kind of a hobby.”
The local elementary school arrives at 1000 hours and for the next hour, regales us with Korean dance and song about how wonderful it is to be Korean, live in such a wonderful country, and other fundamental tales of twaddle and balderdash.
We applaud nicely as they did a good job and we’re not entirely heartless.
After this, I hunt down Mr. Pak.
“Well, that’s over. When are we headed back to the field? Soon?” I ask.
“Yes. Very soon”, Mr. Pak growls. “Tell your team to pack everything. We are leaving in 30 minutes.”
“Far out”, I reply and head off to tell the others of the good news.
The large sample bags are in the cargo hold of the bus. The smaller samples are all curated within my luggage.
Back on the bus, all our gear stowed in the cargo holds below, we’re smoking our smokeables and drinking our drinkables.
“A toast to another field day in Best Korea”, Dax offers the bus.
Mr. Pak appears unperturbed. He announces that we will be seeing some local sights today as well.
We drive on, and all is progressing as usual.
We come up to a couple of villages. We have no idea where we are. Our maps had stopped a few miles back. In fact, we didn’t even know that we had been headed south for most of the remaining morning.
“Here is Kijŏng-dong”, Mr. Tak announces.
Kijŏng-dong is one of two villages permitted to remain in the four-kilometer-wide (2.5 mi) DMZ set up under the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War; the other is the South Korean village of Daeseong-dong
, 2.22 kilometers (1.38 mi) away.
Mr. Jak points out the reason for all the military appurtenances is that we are close to the DMZ, the border between North and South Korea.
We travel down a well-worn road. The sign points out that the village of Panmunjeom is only a few kilometers distant.
The road at Panmunjeom, which was known historically as Highway One in the South, was originally the only access point between the two countries on the Korean Peninsula. Both North and South Korea's roads end in the JSA joint security area; the highways do not quite join as there is a 20 cm (8 in) concrete line that divides the entire site.
The bus grinds to a halt. We are all invited to exit the bus and have a look around.
As we are doing so, our luggage is being taken out of the cargo area of the bus and rather unceremoniously stacked close to the border.
“Mr. Pak”, I ask, “What’s going on. What’s all this about?”
He replies, “People given the rare permission to cross this border must do so on foot before continuing their journey by road.”
We all swivel and see a flotilla of light-blue UN Humvees waiting on the other side of the border.
Mr. Pak shakes my hand, Dax’s, Ivan’s, and all one by one until we are properly thanked and asked to please get the flying fuck out of North Korea.
“The DPRK thanks you Western Scientists for your efforts over the last few weeks. We hope this project will continue to bear fruit. But now, with all that’s transpiring (assuming he was referring to the absent Supreme Leader and the ‘absent in Best Korea’ COVID-19 virus) your project is at an end. Thank you for your hard work and contributions to international science; and the progression of science from west to east. Now, we ask you to please depart.”
He bows to us slightly and says: “감사합니다.[Gamsahabnida.] Thank you and goodbye.”
“Well”, I muse, “That was rather abrupt.”
With that, we grab our gear and troop unceremoniously across the border to the waiting UN officials. It was like the end scenes of Close Encounters. There was a tote board with each of our pictures attached. One by one as we came across the border, a checkmark was made with a grease pencil over our photo.
“I guess that’s that”, I say as we are hustled aboard a waiting Humvee.
They made me put out my cigar.
“Yeah, we’re back in civilization”, I grouse.
We endure the ride for an hour and a half or so as we’re headed to Seoul, South Korea. We all have reservations at the Four Seasons Hotel there. Since our project was cut off early, and we have travel restrictions to deal with, we all have reservations for suites.
After checking in, calling Esme, and letting her know of the wicked turn of events, I call Rack and Ruin. I get to listen to their howling laughter as to how we were kicked out of the worst country in history.
Fuck. We’ll never live this down.
Later, down in the Market Kitchen restaurant, we are all assembled, probably for the last time. Certainly the last time on this project.
“Rock”, Dax asked, “What the fuck did we do to deserve this?”
“I don’t know”, I said as I lifted my huge beer mug and looked around at the splendor of this 5-star hotel in which we’ve been incarcerated, “But I plan on doing it more often.”
“Nahhh….why’d they kick us out?” Viv asks.
“They had to”, Ivan interjected. “What we did, in good fun and conviviality to those poor Korean agents. They couldn’t let that pass without a response.”
“Yeah. We damn near amused them to death,” I smiled.
It became apparent that North Korean officials were set to put with a certain amount of carryings-on and shenanigans, but never expected the level of impudence and incaution that a group of international geologists could provide.
We all smoked, we drank, we swore. We didn’t listen, we thought for ourselves and we eschewed prohibition. We did what we thought was necessary to accomplish the tasks set before us. They had no experience with audacity and impertinence on this level; they simply had no experience with this degree of effrontery, they did not know how to react.
So, we got the collective boot.
They thought they kept all the rock samples, but we didn’t let on that we had a duplicate set. They thought they kept all the maps, but we didn’t let on that we had a duplicate set. They thought they kept all the seismic data, but we didn’t let on that we had a duplicate set.
They didn’t even want to see our notes, phones, or cameras. They just wanted us gone.
So, fuck it, we left.
After several of our European counterparts had departed for Scandinavia, Great Britain, and the Iberian Peninsula; Dax, Ivan, Morse, and I were left to discuss the situation.
“It’s really too bad they tossed us out”, I said, “All that work, and we never even got to the point where we could present conclusions.”
Dax agreed, “All that work, down the tubes. They don’t know what to do with the data much less interpret it. All they have to do is ask, but I guarantee that will never happen. They’re too damned ‘proud’.”
Dr. Academician Ivan replies, “Is true. However, I doubt they would like our conclusions, even with additional fieldwork. All indications are that there is virtually no recoverable hydrocarbons in either northern basin. Tectonics all wrong, structural setting the same.”
Dr. Morse adds, “Yes, it is not a good place to hunt for oil and gas. We all felt that going in, and with the work we’ve done, we were finding more negative indications. Perhaps is good thing we leave. We tell them there’s no use to bother looking for oil and gas in their country, they might be sore wrought.”
I continue with, “However, Comrades, there is great potential there for alternative energy sources. They have the perfect set-up geologically to exploit ‘hot, dry rock’. Drill a few deep water injector wells in those Late Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic massifs. Then inject water into fissures and produce live steam at 25,000 psi through producer wells. A project-site power plant at the surface uses the produced steam heat energy to drive turbines through a generator; boom, instant rural electrification It’d be a bird's nest on the ground for them. But, they didn’t want to listen, and well…”
The waiter arrives and we all order another round. Drs. Ivan and Morse tell us they must be off after this drink. They are leaving very early in the morning for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, then catch a connecting flight to Moscow. We finish the round, shake hands, exchange business cards and it just me and the goofy Canuck left in the restaurant.
“Dax, let us relocate. It’s too airish here”, I say.
Dax agrees and we retire to the Charles H. Baker bar in the hotel’s lower level.
“Ah”, I note, “This is more like it. Just like Pyongyang.” I say and fire up a newly-purchased cigar.
Dax has finally had enough and bums one off of me.
“Why, Dr. Dax, I never…” I joked.
“I gots to know”, he smiled back, “What is so fucking fascinating with these things.”
I offer him a clip and a light. After his color returns, it tell him “Puff. Don’t inhale.”
Dax will be leaving for Calgary the next night. I’m stuck until I hear from rack and Ruin, though I don’t tell Dax that. The Middle East is still under lockdown. They will try in the next couple of days to get me as far as Dubai. After that, they suggest I walk or rent a camel.
Agents Rack and Ruin are just loving this.
“So, Rock. When you headed back?” Dax asks.
“Couple-three days, I fear. I’ll be stuck here, on someone else’s nickel, in this tawdry 5-star dump until then”, I snicker.
“Then what? Dax asks, “I hear you’re between contracts.”
“Well…Doctor CanaDax. There’s going to be some changes in the Rocknocker abode and address.” I say.
“How so?” he asks.
“Well, after long deliberation and multiple conferences with my prime marital unit, we’ve decided to leave the Middle East once and for all.”
“Hell. You’ve been there…damn, forever. What is it? 15-16 years?” Dax asks.
“More like the shy side of 20,” I reply.
“Damn, that’s a near forever. Then what?” he continues.
“Sell up. Get rid of a lot of accumulated shit. We’re going to sell our place in New Mexico; in fact, that’s a done deal. Then, I’m going back to school.”
“What? For what? You’re already Dr. Rock.” Dax protests.
“Going to be Dr. of Science Rock. Going back for a DSC. Then, academia. A full tenured professorship with research at a top-notch northern university. That’s it, and a few other odds and bobs, but that’s the skinny. We’re going back to the states, I go back to school for a year or so, then it’s Professor Dr. Rocknocker BSc, MSc, Ph.D., D.Sc.
“Yes, I am.” He replied.
“Fuckin-A, Bubba. You should be…” I smile back between sips of some fine Russian vodka. “You should be…” END
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