Ask Dr. Eldritch

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Don't fall victim to vampires! Don't get slashed by a psycho! Don't get stuck, ASK DR. ELDRITCH!

Dear Dr. Eldritch,
The other night, my friend "Rachel" (not her real name, for reasons that will become obvious) invited a small group of friends over with a "business proposition." It seems she has a plan involving a wealthy entrepreneur that went missing and will soon be ruled dead, access to his will, and a huge insurance policy. She needs us to make it work, and we'll all split the inheritance and insurance if we help her. It's hardly a crime, the entrepreneur has no heirs, and it's a valid insurance policy. We'd get millions, and nobody gets hurt. We've already picked out a tropical paradise where we'll all live like kings for the rest of our lives. None of us have any criminal history, so we should be under the radar, so to speak. I can't see any downside to this, but I've been reading your column regularly and I figured you'd know how to keep things from going sour. What should I do?

-- Nigel, from the East Coast

Dear Nigel,

You don't see any downside? Try these:

  1. It's illegal! Seriously, pseudonyms and a hasty tropical-island retirement are rarely necessary for legitimate ventures.

  2. It's dangerous! Money changes everybody. How do you know one or more of your friends aren't thinking that their share of the pie could be just a bit larger if you also went missing after you played your part?

  3. You don't know what you're doing! You may think that being non-criminals is to your advantage, but it's not. Crime Investigation has risen to a noble science. The tiniest misstep will trip you up. Without years of study, how are you going to know what to do and what not to do? Your inexperience means that instead of slipping through the net, you'll probably be caught due to a rookie mistake.

  4. Something will go wrong! If I had a nickel for every "foolproof" plan that unravels faster than a coed's mummy costume at a Halloween party, I'd have a whole lot of nickels. Most career criminals can't create a foolproof plan, what makes you think a bunch of amateurs can?
If you're still considering doing this, here's the price you'll have to pay: You'll walk away from everything you've ever known, break contact with your family, friends, and partners in crime forever, and leave the country, never to return. You'd be surprised at how many people get caught when they make "just one" phone call or a single clandestine trip back home for a loved one's wedding or funeral. You might be thinking "That won't happen to me!" Yeah, right.

And another thing: Are you prepared to spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder? Even a career criminal can break under the stress of waiting to get caught. Do you think you can live with the constant possibility of being found and captured? In the calm light of day it may seem fine, but how about when you're woken up at 2:00 a.m. by a strange sound, and you wonder if it's a SWAT team about to burst in to take you down, so you lie in bed, not daring to move? How many nights of that can you stand?

If you've read this far and STILL want to go ahead with it, make travel plans that your gang doesn't know about. Have your bags packed and hidden near the airport. Insist that you get your share of the loot as a wire transfer to an off-shore account as soon as the money's available. Once the transfer is confirmed, tell your cohorts that you're going to buy champagne or doughnuts, and leave. Don't hang around for that celebratory drink or fall for the "let's rendezvous at a remote cabin" trick.

Once out of sight, ditch your car, take a taxi to the airport and catch the next flight to a tropical island that has no extradition agreements with the US (you'll have your passport and your ticket ready, of course). Travel by boat for a while, paying with cash until you find a place to settle under a new name. Never contact any of your old friends, even if you're madly in love with one or more of them. When you're wealthy in the tropics, you'll find lots of people to love.

Does this seem needlessly paranoid? Nobody wants to think that their buddies would do them in for money. Yet, when they've successfully committed one crime, and all that stands between them and getting your share of those millions is just another crime, it's only a tiny step on that slippery slope.

Wouldn't you rather play the lottery instead? You're not likely to win, but losing doesn't mean ending up in jail or in a shallow grave by the remote cabin. And you'll still have your friends!

Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!

-- Dr. Eldritch

(DISCLAIMER: Anyone intelligent enough to be reading this should understand 1) Satire, and 2) That following the advice given may result in physical, mental, or spiritual harm to beings living, dead, or undead. The author does not suggest that anyone other that the originator of any given letter follow his advice, and cannot be held liable if anyone else does.
If you need more, read this Advanced Disclaimer!) All content © 2006 Evan M. Nichols