Enter the snake oil salesmen. These are the stories of days gone by, of a bad man with a nasty gift for selling nonsense products to gullible people. It may be impossible to know exactly where the stories first started, but there are at least a couple pretty good takes on where it came from. One of these is that a man named Clark Stanley who sold “Snake Oil” in the early 20th century made Snake Oil popular and then as famous as he became for the oil he sold, he became even more infamous when he was busted by the Feds for selling oil that didn’t have a drop of snake oil in it to begin with. More interestingly, Clark was able to sell Snake Oil by the crate partially because of his showmanship and partially because Chinese immigrants had inadvertently popularized an ointment high in good fatty acids that really did come from water snakes, in the 1800s. Another origin story, which I found in the Wikipedia article on the same topic, is that European settlers saw Seneca natives in the Eastern United States using petroleum on their wounds and that little native tip spread but the name “Seneca Oil” fell apart into “Sen-ake-a oil” which of course sounds like…you guessed it.
That last one sounds a little wild, but the point is, who really knows? It’s much easier to trace how the idea became so well known to us. That straightforward story is that the snake oil salesman has been used again and again in popular stories and movies so that most Americans will readily know what you mean when you say, “those people selling Jeunesse Instantly Ageless are snake oil salesmen.” Oh but I’m getting distracted here. The point is that the real losers here are us. Too harsh you say? Well it is beside the point because the relevance of the snake oil salesman is timeless.
Tainted plastic toys, fake, deadly pet food, German cars that pollute our atmosphere at rates multiple times what is legal, bankers that lie and cheat fellow Americans sometimes leaving people homeless, and myriad otherwise misleading product claims just keep showing up in our lives. The awful reality is that these scams in one form or another will always be around. Yet that isn’t even the most surprising thing. What is most surprising is just how bold the cheaters behind the scams are. In the face of all the government agencies, law enforcement, and regulations, these bad things keep happening to us and it comes down to the fact that bad people keep seeing that they can get away with it, even if they get busted eventually.
Sometimes these frauds can get downright bizarre and I’d say that is the category that Malachi A. Love-Robinson, falls into. The 18 year old Floridian, Mr. Love-Robinson, has been impersonating a doctor, taking patients, and paying for a staff and office space for at least several months since 2015. Ultimately, he was trapped by an undercover officer into breaking the law. His crime? practicing medicine without a license during an appointment with the officer. Of course, this young man was almost certainly mostly practicing medicine without a license in his small business so it’s for the best that he’s in the pickle he’s in. Just look at how far this teenager got with his ambitious ruse, considering that he may actually believe he was doing something good. Take that dedication and throw some real hard cash into the mix and things get to the point where even the authorities setup to protect us sit by meaningless as one scam or another just marches on to get bigger and more harmful to everyday people. The worst of these scams are the ones with medical claims and it’s because they hurt people not just in their wallet but also potentially with their health. Beware the scams!