So much of what we see and hear in the world today is fake! Who can you believe in this the age of phishing, scams, hoaxes and deception? When is it safe to click on a hyperlink or to open an email attachment? What happened to the world where people generally mean what they say and where you can turn on your computer without fear of ransomware or the need for antivirus software? Since the dawn of time there have been half-truths, heists and frauds but it has infiltrated modern life at every level, aided, abetted and accelerated by technology. The wise person knows all that glitters is not gold but cannot always detect the counterfeit because it looks so genuine. Back in the day, old bank notes like these shown were held up to the light to distinguish the false from the real currency. Now it is more complicated, to the point that you can’t even be sure whether media news is true let alone the notes in your wallet, that is if you still use them.
- ‘Fake news and rumours thrive online because few verify what's real and always bias towards content that reinforces their own biases’ – Ryan Higa
- ‘We live in a world with fake news being put out there. You don't really know what to trust, and it's a real danger to society’ – Austin Aries
- ‘From my hair to my toes to my nails. Everything's fake. Everything! Even my heart is fake’ – Adriana Lima
- ‘I can't stand fake people. I can feel it when someone feigns it’ – Jacqueline Fernandez
Have you suffered any kind of scam or fraud? Those who perpetrate such things often prey on those who are vulnerable in some way to their sleight of hand and the victims usually suffer financially, in loss of self-confidence and in their trust of others. Pathological lying, also known as ‘mythomania’ and ‘pseudologia fantastica’, is the chronic behaviour of compulsive or habitual lying. Unlike telling a so-called ‘white lie’ to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or getting in trouble, a pathological liar seems to lie for no apparent reason. Whilst we have all been victims of lies and may have told the odd ‘porky-pie’, few people are ‘mythomanians’! Born 27 April 1948, Frank William Abagnale is renowned as one of the most notorious impostors, claiming to have assumed no fewer than eight identities, including an airline pilot, a physician, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons agent, and a lawyer! His story inspired the film, ‘Catch Me If You Can’ (2002), starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Abagnale and Tom Hanks as the FBI agent pursuing him.
- ‘Just because something doesn't confirm your existing beliefs does not mean it's a hoax’ – Stephanie Ruhle
- ‘A successful swindler has to be a great salesman even more than a great actor’ – David Suchet
Charles Ponzi earned his reputation as one of the greatest swindlers of all time. He was born in Italy in 1882 and developed the Ponzi scheme which is a form of fraud that lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors. George Parker’s criminal career in the early 20th Century involved ‘selling’ landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, The Brooklyn Bridge and Madison Square Garden to unwary immigrants! Scottish con man Gregor MacGregor pretended to rule a non-existent country called Poyais for which he sought investment and settlers. MacGregor made over £1.3 million from various frauds (equivalent to £3.6 billion today) with his fake country con. There seems to be no limit to our vulnerability to be deceived by all kinds of ‘boiler room scams’ where we are sold worthless stocks and trust is trashed. Where does this all come from?
- ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ – Genesis 3:1
- ‘”Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!”’ – John 8:43-45
- ‘True glory takes root, and even spreads; all false pretences, like flowers, fall to the ground; nor can any counterfeit last long’ – Marcus Tullius Cicero
- ‘Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important’ – C S Lewis
Author of the famous ‘Mere Christianity’, ‘Screwtape Letters’ and the ‘Narnia Chronicles’, Lewis was an apologist who used stories to present Christian truth and to challenge lies. He picked up the ‘trilemma’ that had been postulated by Scottish theologian John Duncan in 1859, namely that:
- ‘Christ either  deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or  He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or  He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma. It is inexorable’
Watchman Nee restated this in 1936 but it was C S Lewis who popularised it as a convincing argument for Jesus, the truth-telling Christ of God. It is Jesus who has dealt with deception and epitomises truth, the Way to which all his followers are called.
- ‘Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”’ – John 14:6
- ‘Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator’ – Colossians 3:9-10
- ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things’ – Philippians 4:8
- ‘Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord’ – Psalm 31:23-24
Konrad Paul Kujau was a German illustrator and forger who became famous in 1983 as the creator of the so-called Hitler Diaries, for which he received DM 2.5 million. The self-declared world's greatest counterfeiter, Frank Bourassa, printed $250 million in fake US currency until he was caught by an undercover cop in 2012. And yet he hardly served any time behind bars.
- ‘For the Word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love’ – Psalm 33:4-5
- ‘For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account’ – Hebrews 4:12-13
The way we can tell what is real and true is to hold it up to the ‘ultraviolet’ of God’s Word. The alternative is to allow yourself to go on being deceived in all manner of ways and by all types of scams. It’s time to stop being a victim and to be sure that there is nothing counterfeit in the life you live. Better to know the real currency of life now than to have it exposed when standing before the Living Word himself. Actually the money in the picture is real! It just shows that you can’t be sure and need to hold all things up to the light, ‘for the Word’ will always show you the safest and wisest investment is truth.
TAGS – justice, honesty, genuine, exposure, revealing, pure, judgement, deceiver