The History of Scams

The History of Scams

How old are scams, and how have they affected their victims? Some older folks believe that we live in a unique age of scams, but the truth is they have existed throughout human history. The history of scams began when Eve was scammed by the serpent. The Bible describes the consequences of many cases in which someone was lied to, scammed, or misled.

Scams offer to make the victims more intelligent or attractive or benefit them financially. The line the serpent gave to Eve was, “In the day that you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you shall be like gods.” The Bible says, “The woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Genesis 3:4-6). The history of scams shows the same approach used up until modern times.

In the 1860s, the vibrating exercise belt was advertised as a way to shake away fat and tone muscles (it does neither). In the 1920s and for several decades after, the Charles Atlas fitness regimen urged people to drink up to five quarts of milk a day to be fit. Today, there are many claims of ointments, devices, and programs designed to improve people’s looks or offset typical afflictions of old age. Today’s scams have popular names attached to them and make ridiculous claims of what they will do.

The tragedy of modern scams is that people spend money trying to look better when they could use that money to feed hungry people or relieve pain and suffering in the world. If their belief system is “survival of the fittest,” they might even lose their life savings trying to be “fit.” Falling for a scam is an exercise in futility that wastes time, money, and energy while producing disappointment, anger, and frustration.

God calls us to be more concerned with our inner beauty than our exterior beauty. Each stage of life is an experience, and we can enjoy the journey from birth to death if we rely on God’s plan for our lives. Just as Satan scammed Eve in the Garden of Eden, he is after each of us today. We must learn from the history of scams and avoid the forbidden fruit the scammers offer. We can use our time and money to obey God’s teaching to make this world a better place.

— John N. Clayton © 2024