When boffins invent teleportation we’ll be able to travel around the world in seconds, but for now online auctions offer the next best thing: with a click of the mouse you can send all of your money or all of your possessions to Nigeria.
When you advertise your dog-eared 2006 Official Girls Aloud calendar on an online auction you’ll immediately receive seven hundred emails offering two and a half million pounds for it. You now have two choices: you can stop the auction early and get ripped off now, or you can wait until the auction ends and get ripped off then. It really doesn’t matter: whether you post it today or a week today, the calendar’s going to Nigeria – and the payment’s from a cloned credit card, so it’ll be yanked by your bank within three seconds of posting your package. That means not only will you lose your money, but you’ll no longer have a picture of Kimberley to cheer yourself up.
If you’re a buyer, things are even more fun: when you win an auction and make your payment, one of three exciting things will happen. One, the package will arrive and you’ll discover that you’ve bought a photo of the thing instead of the thing itself; two, the package will arrive and you’ll discover that you’ve bought a box for the thing instead of the thing itself; or three, no package will arrive and you’ll receive a postcard from your money instead. “Wish you were here,” it says. “In Nigeria!”
[Originally published in Official Windows Vista magazine]