Tag Archives: fraud

Day 132

I don’t have a degree. Most of my contemporaries do, and I have always felt disadvantaged by the lack. There are several ways this blog post could now go, including a discussion of my troubled youth, ramblings about my wasted life or my thoughts on our educational system. I could even have a rant about how poetry seems riddled with people who want to list their academic credentials when discussing poetry. I read an article last night that spent a lot of time telling me about the author’s educational qualifications and am feeling in the mood for a rant.

But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to tell you about a business idea I had, and how the government ensured it was stillborn. And how your cat can get a degree . . .

When I was 29, I decided to make a determined effort to improve myself and show ambition. It wasn’t, to be honest, the natural me and it didn’t last. However, I did manage to talk my way onto a post-graduate course (a Diploma in Management Studies) and I did manage to finish it.

Whilst I was on the course I learnt several things. One was that British Universities, whilst insisting that I had proper qualifications, were not quite so strict with overseas students. Overseas students didn’t even need a particularly good command of English – just the necessary funding to pay through the nose.

The second thing was that there were such things as fraudulent  business colleges which provided spurious qualifications, and that people seemed to think they were worth buying.

A couple of months after finishing the course I was just in the process of setting up the Carlton Business School when the government stepped in and banned this sort of thing with the Education Reform Act (1988) – I still wake up dreaming about it.

I did a bit of research last night and it seems I should have been more persistent. Thirty five years later I see that 85 fake universities were closed down in the last five years, so maybe I should have carried on.

I’ve never had such a good idea since. Meanwhile the “real” Universities carried on taking money from overseas students who paid a lot of money but didn’t gain much from their studies due to an inadequate grasp of English.

The moral, never give up and remember that posh people, and Universities, are above the law.

Look at what I could have done if I’d just been a bit more persistent. I particularly like this one.


Bears and Butterflies

I have just turned, or am about to become, 62. I can’t tell you exactly, because according to those adverts which are designed to worry us about cyber crime, information like that can help professional criminals steal my identity.

I’m not sure what sort of self-respecting professional fraudster wakes up in the morning with the desire to become a fat elderly man with creaky joints and a job as a shop assistant but you can’t be too careful these days. I would hate to get a letter from the bank telling me that I owed them money because someone has booked a holiday in the Maldives using a fraudulently obtained credit card in my name.


A Bear in an Apple Tree

They always seem to want a holiday. Whenever Julia has trouble with her card (the details of which, as far as we can tell, were hijacked from a supposedly secure retail site) the culprits always try to book themselves two weeks abroad. And the bank always declines the transaction because it’s so far away from our normal spending pattern. She has the minor inconvenience of being without a card for a few days after they cancel it, but that’s not a problem compared to the alternative.

I’ve done a few new pictures of the bear after the last lot didn’t want to show on the relevant post, photographed some blossom and watched a blue butterfly flit around the garden. It didn’t stay still long enough for a photograph. I assume it was a Holly Blue because it flew round the holly tree, and because they always seem to be Holly Blues in gardens.

Anyway, can’t stay long today because I’ve just had a badly-spelt email from the widow of an African politician. It seems that when he left office he inadvertently retained a bank account containing $15,000,000. She’s a generous lady and would like me to have half of it in return for allowing her to put the money in my account for a while. I’m not quite clear why this is necessary but I never was much good at high finance.

Sounds almost too good to be true…



Plenty of Time to Think

First, an apology. Last night I seem to have sent some comments to trash by accident. I managed to track them down and think I have replied to all of them, but I can’t get them back onto the main site. I hope you have all had replies, but if you haven’t let me know. If you have been ignored it’s down to stupidity rather than bad manners.

Earlier today I was watching Walker, Texas Ranger. It comes on after Perry Mason, which follows Matlock. With the best will in the world, it isn’t a particularly demanding schedule. However, whilst watching Walker, I did pay some attention to the plot, if you can call it that.

The villain was a violent criminal and fraudster who had started his own church after purchasing his ordination certificate online, or possibly some sort of forerunner of the internet.

Now, what you may not know about me was that I once planned a career as a fraudster, having formed the idea for a postal business college. In those days it was legal to offer meaningless qualifications through the post and you could get £1,000 for a PhD – all the candidate needed to was send a cheque and write an essay, which was a lot easier than taking a proper PhD. I had it all ready to launch, including the name Carlton Business College, when the government changed the law and out a stop to it. Fortunately I had not incurred any financial costs so all I lost was my time and my dreams.

Before you ask, no, I didn’t have any qualms about it. I had just done a post-graduate diploma course as a mature student, and had learned several interesting things about “proper” academic institutions. One was that several of the overseas students on the course were intending to sell copies of their certificates on completion of the course. The second was that not everyone on the course had to go through the same selection process.

row of books in shelf

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I, having applied for the course without having a degree, had to undergo a stringent interview and written test. Some of the overseas students, who paid many times the fees we were paying, had managed to get on the course without qualifications, without a written test and without the ability to write intelligible English.

Julia, who is much more intellectually accomplished than I am, noted the same when she did her Master’s degree.

So there you are, even today “proper” universities are allowed to peddle substandard qualifications to overseas students in return for cash, but I am not.

Anyway, enough of my lack of morals, and back to today. It seems, when I checked up, that you can become an ordained minister for $29. It is priced in dollars, because the “church” is American. I’m fascinated by the American marriage laws, where a$29 dollar minister is allowed to conduct legally binding marriages in 48 states.

Then I wandered onto this site, and wasted more of my day.

By the time I write my next post I may well be the Reverend Quercus. Julia says we have enough trouble without me attracting any Divine Wrath, but I’m seriously thinking of it. Well, it’s not like I’m doing anything else for the next three weeks, is it?

cute little dog wearing red sweater

Photo by Vlad Chețan on Pexels.com

When I searched the free photo library for “dog collar” this wasn’t actually what I was hoping for.

Auctioneers, Bureaucracy and Modern Life

I’m gearing up for some serious collecting, and part of his involves getting ready to bid at auction.

Last week I registered with one I’ve never dealt with before, sent in a couple of bids and am now waiting to see if I’ve been successful. If I am the winning bidder I will pay by debit card and they will send me the goods. It’s old-fashioned. It’s simple. And it’s easy to stay calm during the process, apart from a low level of excitement about the hunt.

This week I sent off a so-called registration form for another auction. I’ve dealt with them before so I listed them as a reference. I also listed one of their trade customers as a reference. You’d have thought that would be sufficient, but it seems not. That’s why I’m in low-level rant mode.

To safeguard them from fraud, and because they say I’m a new customer, I have to provide a copy of my photo ID.

That’s a National ID card (which I don’t have), a passport (which I don’t have) or a photo driving licence. Now, I do have one of those, though in theory there’s no reason why I should have one. Julia still has her green non-photo licence, and somewhere in a drawer, so do I. We moved here 30 years ago when they were the only licences available and we’ve had no legal reason to change them.

I had to change mine simply because it’s impossible to live without photo ID these days. I even needed photo ID to prove my mother’s will.

No, I don’t know why either.

We’ve dealt with the same solicitor for years, they have had, and used, my home address for years, and they have met me face to face. Suddenly we can’t do anything without me showing photo ID.

Anyway, back to auctions. I’m not a new customer. I’ve told them I’m not a new customer. I provided a reference, and I won’t be able to defraud them because they won’t part with the goods until they have payment and…

Somehow I can’t do anything without providing photo ID.

I can’t help feeling that it’s just another example of the stupidity of modern life. My photo ID doesn’t reduce the chance of fraud to the auctioneer. But it does make life more annoying for me, and, by having a photo of my driving licence floating around, it does increase my risk of being the victim of fraud.

I know this because when Cotton Traders had their system hacked we had several attempts at fraudulent transactions made on our cards.



The Story of My Life

I was searching through old files in the Documents File and found one I’d started about a year ago – “Life Story”. I’d started it, inspired by various blogs, but had let it drop and forgotten all about it.

I will quote it.

Chapter One

That was all there was. I can’t tell you if there was ever more than that as I just don’t remember.

Let’s be clear – I always have trouble starting things, and the style of a chapter heading takes thought. I’m never sure whether to go for Chapter One, Chapter 1 or simply 1. It all depends on the measure of gravitas you are aiming for. What works for a modern novel isn’t necessarily going to convey the full depth of dignity required for the autobiography of a middle-aged man with a beard and a fountain pen. However, even by my standards, writing a chapter heading and calling it a day is very lazy.

I mention the fountain pen because writing, in my imagination, always features a fountain pen. It also features a big desk in a library, a summer’s day and open French windows. There would be fruit trees in the garden and pen stand on the desk.

A book I once read told me that if I really wanted something I should visualise it in minute detail. It doesn’t seem to be working. I can imagine it, but apart from the fountain pen I’m having trouble putting the rest together. We do have a temperamental plum tree and a few small trees in pots (apple, damson and fig) but I can’t actually see them when I sit down to write.

Anyway, the story of my life. I think I’ve already summed it up – good intentions, unfinished projects and poor visualisation skills.

One of the reasons, apart from idleness, I didn’t go any further is that I haven’t really done anything interesting enough to merit a book. To make it more interesting I would have to delve into my subconscious and try to make it into the misery memoir section. Unfortunately my parents, by failing to either beat or abandon me, didn’t do me any favours there.

If I had my time again I’d be much more irritating as a child and see if I could build up some misery for future use. Failing that I’d have to do something notable and become a celebrity.

In 1968 I won a prize in the Brooke Bond essay writing competition, but I’m not sure it’s enough of an achievement to hang a set of memoirs on. I noticed from a quick search of the internet that Janet Street-Porter won an earlier Brooke Bond competition. She gets 50 words out of it. Even if I pad it out that would leave me around 79,900 words short. She, however, has done quite a lot more than me, so has plenty to fill her book.

The obvious answer is to make something up, but even the fraudulent memoir market seems to be overcrowded. As they seem to have missed Grey Owl out, it could be even more congested than the link suggests.

I’m faced with two possibilities here – one being to do something energetic and outlandish like cycling from Land’s End to John o’ Groats on a Penny Farthing with a fridge strapped to my back. That’s entry level for a memoir by a non-celebrity these days.

Another is to do something famous. I see that I am, for instance, more likely to win an Olympic Gold Medal than win the lottery. Even so, the chances are 1 in 662,000 so this could be tricky.

The article actually says “The chances of the average person winning an Olympic gold medal in their lifetime are 1 in 662,000.”

Am I the only one wondering what the chances of someone winning one not in their lifetime?

That really would make me a celebrity.




10 Bad Things to Buy on Ebay

I covered this briefly a few days ago, when suggesting Ebay was a bad place to buy a diamond. John Knifton followed up by suggesting it was also a bad place to buy a horse. That immediately took over as Number One on the list. Diamonds, for the moment, are Number Nine on the list. I’m going to put “Things with blurred photos” at Number Ten. I haven’t been on Ebay for a while and the standard of photography seems to have gone down so that many slapdash postings seem to be accompanied by pitifully blurred photographs.

I’ve just bought something with a blurred photograph. I can’t escape the idea that the blur was deliberate.

Here’s an initial plan – let me know if you have any ideas that should be Top Ten.

Horses. Always a tricky thing to buy at the best of time, but with the added problems of internet anonymity and sloppy standards this could be a real problem. Blurred pictures of teeth are a further complication. Anyway, have you really got a big enough garden?

Bomb making manuals. Buying one of these could see you booked into prison for a spot of waterboarding. This sounds like it fits in nicely with surfboarding and snowboarding but don’t be fooled. It doesn’t, despite all you may have heard about prisons getting soft, and it can really make for a bad holiday.

Large amounts of chemical fertiliser. Unless you are a farmer. See above.


  1. Horses
  2. Bomb-making manuals
  3. Chemical fertiliser (large amounts)
  4. TBA
  5. TBA
  6. TBA
  7. TBA
  8. TBA
  9. Diamonds
  10. Things with blurred photographs


That leaves five slots, and if your suggestions are good enough they could easily displace some of the others.

What are your nominations, or horror stories?