David Beroff (d4b) wrote,
David Beroff
d4b

After over a century, people still believe that the streets here are paved with gold?

We arrived early, and by now have met everyone in our week-long Brigantine home: The owner, his brother and niece; none actually sleep here. Two long-term residents, one with a small cat and one with a small dog. Three bouncy young ladies who seem to prefer bikinis. Another guest is expected tomorrow. And of course now Cat Lady and me. There's actually plenty of space for everybody; we're very comfortable here.

The owner's in the process of shifting the home from mostly longer-term renters to guests from AirBnB. Having recently had to eject a few deadbeats, he's already digging the transition. Rents are paid in advance and held in escrow by AirBnB. Rents are higher, (but of course more seasonal). Problems can be dismissed more readily. And conversely, good tenants can be vetted; one of the long-term renters actually started as an AirBnB guest, and has since decided to stay at least through the winter.

The owner has a second property across the bridge in Atlantic City. That's where he works with eastern European victims of a long-standing scam who tend to appear on his doorstep. He says that they are generally very hard-working young adults with sincere intentions, but arrive with the deck severely stacked up against them by this con.

The way it works is that they've already paid large sums of money to a broker back home who has promised them the magical riches of a seasonal job in the States, (which often exists in some limited form, but not always), legal paperwork, and a cheap bed for the summer, (which is total fairy dust). The insane cost of living in a vacation resort town, especially compared to back home, is never discussed. What little cash they're carrying is quickly consumed by the long bus trip from the airport, one or two nights at an expensive hotel until they find the rest of their siblings-in-kind here, and if the job is in fact real, there are usually specific clothing requirements, such as non-skid soled-shoes. Invariably, training doesn't even start for about two weeks, and the first day of training is on the last day of the two-week pay period. Not everyone has a good command of English, and of course they still need to eat and sleep before their first "real" paycheck appears somewhere around Week Five, or worse.

One has to wonder how the whole mechanism is even legal, or at least how it survives in light of globalized social media; how can these stories not make their way back home to the next wave of potential victims the following year? Or is it more a matter of the young and gullible ignoring the very loud warning bells, and instead desperately wanting to Believe in the Magic Beanstalk?
Tags: cat lady, travel
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