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Pumping out the scams

The local news here in Lombardy has just reported that the Guardia di Finanza, the Financial police, have uncovered a large scale scam involving quite a few service stations, 24 in all. This was a high-tech attempt at fiddling. What the unscrupulous were doing was hacking in to the software on the computers that ran the pumps and ‘adjusting’ them so that hapless customers got less then they were paying for. Nice. In the past, similar fiddles were reported but none were as sophisticated as this one.

I wonder how long it will take these people to work out a way of quickly adjusting their pumps so that they can get by the checks, which are low tech and involve measuring the output of a pump and comparing it with the price and quantity displayed.

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On the subject of scams, Italians have always, by and large, been good at managing their cash, so much so that things like bank loans, mortgages and overdrafts were almost unheard of. Not any more. Lending companies are springing up all the time and many advertise on the telly. The situation here is still very different from the situation which existed in the UK ten years ago, when I was able on one occasion to organise a loan in about one and a half hours flat. Try doing this in Italy now and getting a reasonable rate of interest. However, as I said before the plethora of new companies offering quick loans is a sign that things are changing. This causes me to ask the following question. Are the rich and powerful here trying to send Italians down the easily available credit road which has already been occupied by some time by the USA and UK? I think, yes. Why?

Well, if you are rich, very rich, like the Italian prime minister, for example, what is one of the easiest ways of making even more cash? The answer is lending it to others, of course. Mortgages, so much a part of life in the UK, are a great way of earning an enormous amount of interest and the whole thing is secured on that most secure of investments, bricks and mortar. So, imagine, you are rich and powerful and you just happen to end up being prime minister. Now, how could you reduce the population’s disposable incomes enough to ensure that they need more credit? Easy! You increase taxes and work to ensure that the cost of living starts growing out of all proportion to the growth in pay. As a strategy it’s a winner. It can’t lose, especially when you have the power to make laws to keep yourself on the right side of legality. Indirectly, of course, the blathering fools which go to make up the opposition will help you keep power, because they have no way of matching the swarve and sophisticated marketing of you and your ‘political’ company, sorry, party.

Is this happening in the living museum? Well, I’m not sure, but I have my suspicions. I will restrain myself from mentioning the ‘N’ word, again.

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