The ad looked so legitimate: an apartment in New York City, not too far under the average price of the area. Two small bedrooms, furnished, near Strand Book Store in Union Square.

The “landlord” was a woman. She lived in Spain and had purchased the apartment for her two daughters to live in while attending university in New York City, but now their studies were complete. She would love to have three young, responsible women rent the place. Once they saw it they could decide if they wanted to keep all the furniture or remove some.

All they had to do was……and here’s where it gets fuzzy, where in retrospect we should have picked up on the illegitimacy of said apartment.

But arrangements were made, a legitimate realty company was referenced and the money was wired. The promised key and lease never came.

Scam. A fraudulent business scheme. To be swindled. To cheat. To deceive.

So unfair and angering. All evening we plotted how we could get back at these frauds who had, without conscience, taken the money of students and left them with nothing. Nothing but anger and head shaking, feeling foolish and in despair of lost money and lost time. We plotted how we would try to trace their computers, how we would tell them they messed with the wrong person, how we were Important People and they would Pay. We discarded the one suggestion of praying for their salvation fairly quickly.

It is far more fun to plot revenge then pray for salvation.

And of course, there is no recourse. That’s what makes the scam so brilliant.

I’ve been thinking about being scammed since last week. How sometimes I think God has scammed me, not giving me what I think I’ve paid for, what I deserve. The “I didn’t sign up for this!” yelled up to Heaven with a fist shaken for emphasis. The emphasis always on me and what I think my happiness should entail — whether it be jobs or travel, money or relationships.

Do I really think that God scams me? Do I really think I can do it better? Do I really want to write the story myself, Marilyn as main character and saviour?

My response is a resounding ‘NO’! But sometimes I live like the above is true, like I can do a better job of running the universe, especially my little corner of the universe.

Years ago the author Shel Silverstein wrote a children’s poem called “God’s Wheel”.

GOD says to me with a kind
of smile, “Hey how would you like
to be God awhile And steer the world?”
“Okay,” says I, “I’ll give it a try.

Where do I set?
How much do I get?
What time is lunch?
When can I quit?”

“Gimme back that wheel,” says GOD.
“I don’t think you’re quite ready YET.”

I remember the poem and read it with a half-smile.

Who’s really scamming who? If I look at both sides God didn’t quite get what he bargained for when he decided he’d give humans a try.

The students will heal from the scam and learn from it. That’s the silver lining. But what about me and my heart? Do I see my thoughts for what they are? As twisted thinking orchestrated by the ultimate scammer? The one who came to “kill, steal and destroy?”*

I’m sobered as I pray to the one who is always there with open arms when I fall for fraudulent and distorted thinking, a God of truth and love.

How about you? Have you ever been scammed or felt like God was scamming you? How did you react? 

*John 10:10

2 thoughts on “Scammed

  1. What timing! My dad and sister fell prey to a scammer just yesterday! A male voice calling out in “desparate” need (greed) to a lonely, housebound 89 year old grandfather. “Do you know who this is? It’s your grandson.” Out of 7 to choose from, my dad picked one who’d been on his mind lately since he lives so far away and is due to come home for a visit soon. “I’m in trouble in a holding cell, don’t tell anyone especially not my parents…..can you wire money to my friend for my lawyer”….preying on a heart full of love. Thankfully the substantial sum of money was not sent because the company doing the wiring suspected a scam and called me to track down my son. My dad was angry, my sister feels incredibly stupid, my son feels hurt that the two of them would think he is 17 again, and capable of falling into that kind of trouble or that he would ask his grandfather for anything! Hurt all the way around. I am so very sorry for the girls. What a hard lesson to learn. I love your thought provoking take-away. How easily we fall prey to the scammer who fools us into thinking living should be easy and all for us.


  2. This is terrible! I’m so sorry. Sadly the scammers get more and more clever. And we rage and fume when we get taken in, but to what purpose? This is the world we live in. I think if we could all think of all we are and all we have as belonging to God, we might handle it better. Perhaps asking God what He wants to do with the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Russ Irwin’s emphasis on “giving thanks always FOR all things” really turns our minds around to see God’s hand in everything that happens. Not that I’ve arrived at that place yet….


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