I don’t mean to alarm you, but I need $10,000. Quick. Otherwise, I’m gonna get arrested.

See, I got this extortion notice with an official CIA logo pasted at the bottom. For $10,000, the technical collection officer who signed promised that he can make my name disappear from the case file of a massive international investigation.

“I read the documentation and I know you are a wealthy person who may be concerned about reputation,” he states.

I do appreciate the CIA guy’s concern, but he has my case file confused with someone else’s. Wealthy? Hardly.

If I had $10,000, I know a credit card company and a mortgage institution that would arm wrestle each other for the rights to make sure I didn’t.

I suppose I could sell my time share. But I seem to have misplaced that, too.

I keep receiving letters from various companies that say they know what a burden my time share has become. To alleviate my suffering, they will, out of the goodness of their hearts, purchase it from me at a fair but discounted rate.

One of these days, I’m going to sell my imaginary time share. I can’t find it. Maybe they can. If they do, I’ll ask them to check the bookcase to see if I left my $10,000 there.

I’ve reached the stage in life in which my chief entertainment comes from scams and sales pitches.

We’ve been offered cruises, vacations, cars, life insurance, repairs to our windows, basement, roof and floors, and offers of enhancements to my person. Years ago, after fielding a flurry of these sales calls, I suggested that society could solve pothole problems by filling them with phone solicitors.

This, of course, would be inhumane. The phone solicitors would pop up to offer deals on their potholes while explaining to motorists they are under no obligation to buy the pothole, that this is a no-risk offer and other potholes may be sampled as well. Road crews would be overtaxed running around with shovels, smacking the phone solicitors back into the holes like a giant Whac-A-Mole game.

Also, it’s an unfair thing to say about phone solicitors, most of whom are honest, hard-working people simply earning a living.

Then there are the guys like the one who said he was from the IRS. I owed $5,437 and agents were on their way at that moment to arrest me.

“What time can I expect them? Shall I put a pizza in the oven?”

“This is serious, Mr. Cole. I can clear this up now for you and stop them from throwing you in jail.”

“Is pepperoni good? Or I’ve got a sausage and onions?”

“Mr. Cole, you must remit the full amount in bitcoins. Are you near your computer?”

“Nope. I’m in the kitchen cooking pizza. Are bitcoins like pepperoni?”

“Get in your car right now and purchase iTunes cards. You can pay with those.”

“I can’t leave to buy the IRS music. Your agents are gonna be here anytime. Oops, pizza’s ready. Gotta go.”

The agents never did show up, so I ate the whole pizza myself, bit-pepperoni-coins and all.

The joke’s on him. I could have easily paid the whole IRS bill and the CIA bribe from the millions in that international lottery I won without signing up to play — except I never sent the $7,000 transfer fee. Guess I’m going to jail.


JOIN COLE in his cell at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.

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