I don’t want to say Catherine wasn’t on the up and up, but it sure seems like she wasn’t on the up and up.

Here’s the email she sent me:

I would like to place an AD in your newspaper under HELP Wanted but I

don't know if am contacting the appropriate quarters or not. You may

kindly forward it to them so that I can send them what needs to be posted.

I patiently await your prompt response to this message. Thank you!

The wording wasn’t quite right – quarters? -- and I am always on the lookout someone trying to pull the wool over a small-town newspaper man’s eyes. So I assumed one of my many alter egos for a little fishing trip and emailed Catherine back:

By chance, you did reach the appropriate quarters! How may I oblige you?

Yours truly,


Senior Public Service Assistant Manager Trainee 

Within moments, Catherine thanked me – or Dirk -- for the prompt response and got down to business:

I would have loved to call and place this AD immediately but am unable to make or receive calls due to work. I hope we can do it here via email in a timely fashion.

Below is what I need to be posted for a week and how much will it cost me?

''Seeking experienced Caregiver for woman with dementia. Start immediately, $20 per hr, 3 hours per day, flexible schedule. Please send an email to ---.”

I will send you my credit card details upon receiving the price quote for a week.

Hope that's fine? Many thanks.

Those familiar with email cons will see the beginning of what’s known as the “nanny or caregiver scam.” It usually involves fake checks sent to someone who has responded to a bogus ad, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

“FTC staff has seen complaints about con artists cheating caregivers with a counterfeit check scheme that asks you to send payment to a third party,” Carol Kando-Pineda, counsel for the FTC's Division of Consumer & Business Education, said in a 2015 warning.

So, back to Catherine and me, er, uh, Dirk. Here is my next reply:

I am sorry to learn of this dementia you speak of for your loved one. My uncle was afflicted with gout so I understand. I am forwarding to the billing department with a notice to expedite ASAP urgently and will notify you as soon as I receive an expense quote from Kevin, who is assistant manager of that department and currently at lunch at Arby’s. I will get back to you as quick as I can. Please be patient with me because I am new at this job position. Thanks!


Catherine was fine with a little delay:


An hour or so later, I, er, uh, Dirk, emailed Catherine about the progress of her ad:

 Kevin has returned from Arby’s. He remembered my curly fries but forgot the horsey sauce. Classic Kevin. Here are the rates for a week: The regular price to place the ad is $208. If you are a senior, you qualify for the senior rate of $179 and that comes with a complimentary umbrella. If you are a nonprofit, you can get the nonprofit rate of $172 but that does not come with a complimentary umbrella. Let’s just go with $179 .


Catherine was eager to move the transaction along and sent me a name and credit card number from someone in Chicago. Ultimately, the deal fell apart when I, er, uh, Dirk, asked her to chip in $5 for Kevin’s birthday party.

Again, I’m not saying Catherine wasn’t on the up and up, but it sure seems like she wasn’t on the up and up. At least that’s what Dirk thinks.

Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com.