I got a letter in the mail, addressed to me, from the DTOP (Departamento de Transportación y Obras Públicas, Dept of Transportation and Public Works). Weird, I thought, this is weird indeed. What could they possibly want with me? I quote (my thoughts in parenthesis)
Esteemed James, (ooo, I’m esteemed, that’s good, huh?)
I have good news for you (oh my goodness, good news, let me read more). You can save $48.00. (wow, how? more more more!) Currently, our system reflects that you have pending traffic fines totaling $120.00 (WHAT!?)
Take advantage of this offer. You have from March 3rd to May 1st to receive a 40% discount, a savings of $48.00. You can get out of all your fines by paying only $72.00. (WTF?)
This offer is for a limited time and will not be repeated. Don’t waste time or money. Visit your closest local collecting office and pay your invoice. You only have to bring this letter. (They wish)
Pay now and save. Don’t wait until it is tool late. (or WHAT?)
Gabriel D Alcaraz Emmanuelli (Crook)
Secretario de Transportación y Obras Públicas
Okay, it looks like it came from DTOP, on official stationary. They are not asking for a mailed check. They ask that you go to the official government collections office to pay. The letter is legitimately from DTOP, but it reads like a bad CompUSA rebate offer. It just sounds like fraud, fraud disguised as a great offer. Couple that with the fact that I just re-registered my car a week ago (so I was clear a week ago) and have never ever ever been pulled over let alone ticketed. This is just false. And the letter does not provide a phone number or any information to report an error. Okay, I think to myself, I’ll have to deal with this. What a pain.
I am reminded of a corollary to Arthur C. Clark’s "Any
sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" which
is "Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from
malice." I love that quote.
Then I find out that Laura’s father, mother, and brother also got the same letter.
Okay, so that’s how it going to be, huh, naked malice. There is speculation that the cover story is going to be a computer glitch, that if you drag your sorry ass into the collections office, wait all day for a useless government functionary to see you, you may have your "fines" removed. Otherwise, if your time/job is worth more than the extortion demand, then you’ll just pay it and move on with your life.
I also find it weird that amount of the "fine" is suspiciously close to
the median daily income of the average worker. It’s like the dollar
figure is perfectly calculated to match the cost of missing a day of work. It’s probably a close race for the majority of Puerto Ricans
today. It’s just too perfect an amount for my "fines." It’s too
perfectly crafted. Too high, everybody fights, Government gets no
money. Too low, and most everybody pays it resulting in an increase in
revenue, but a loss on how much they could have actually gotten. The
tone of the letter makes me believe they are doing me a favor, going
out on a limb, and the amount is just about right for the average joe.
This is just sick, sick, sick. I have never heard of such a thing, government run extortion, fraud. I mean, usually they just stick to back room graft and mismanagement. How often do governments just come right out and say, "pay us this money, and there won’t be any problems," except in Cameroon?
Any lawyers out there want to take up a case against the Department of Transportation in Puerto Rico and Gabriel D Alcaraz Emmanuelli, alleged mastermind of this fraud?