A couple of issues ago I wrote about Justin Costello, a scam artist based in Seattle. At the time of my writing, Costello has been arrested and charged with several crimes including fraud, mostly targeting people in the cannabis industry. He was apprehended in the San Diego area in early October and is being held without bail. His scams are alleged to have netted around $35 million.
What always surprised me about Costello was how easily he managed to dupe folks who should’ve known better. For example, MJBiz Daily, Leafly, High Times, The Stranger (a Seattle weekly newspaper) and others all reported on his various schemes, including his pie-in-the-sky plan to deliver cannabis by drone to Seattle-area customers. Really?? Pot delivered by drone?? Costello’s company, GRN Funds, and schemes were regularly covered by media brands hungry for attention-grabbing headlines. It seems like any basic fact-checking would have spiked these stories before they ever hit the internet.
We live in uncertain times, and Costello is just one example of how a gullible public — and media — can easily be conned. Take a look at current U.S. politics, and it’s obvious that scams and untruths are pervasive and dangerous. Examples? “Jewish space lasers” caused California forest fires; the Clintons ran a child pedophile ring out of a pizza parlor; the Sandy Hook mass shooting was a hoax; the 2020 election was stolen; COVID was a Democrat conspiracy; QAnon is real; the January 6 insurrection was actually carried out by ANTIFA members in disguise, and so on. All examples of fodder for idiots.
One thing the Trump era has brought to the forefront is something most don’t want to talk about, especially in mainstream media: An awful lot of Americans are gullible and easily duped by con artists who have no scruples and who, at the end of the day, don’t give a damn about the constitution, democracy or the truth.
Look no further than the Oath Keepers for a prime example. These dimwits claim to care about clean elections, protecting democracy and the American way. As such, their avowed enemy should be a narcissistic scam artist who regularly cheats American workers, undermines democracy, was supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin and who has repeatedly lied to Americans about an election he knew he lost (yes, Trump is on tape admitting he lost the election). Stewart Rhodes, the goofy, eye patch-wearing leader of the Oath Keepers, should be furious that a former president duped him, tried to undermine a democratic election and damaged our cherished country. And yet, ironically, like so many people who follow cult leaders, Rhodes will likely never come to terms with the fact that he’s just like the “marks” scammed by Costello or the hundreds of followers who literally “drank the Kool-Aid” in Georgetown Guyana decades ago and died a horrible death because they followed another con man, Jim Jones.
And for what it’s worth, Marijuana Venture never did a story promoting Costello or any of his allegedly fraudulent businesses.