“There’s a sucker born every minute.”

“A fool and his money are soon parted.”

These well-worn sayings are reminders of the need to be wary of “opportunities” that are more about enriching promoters than consumers.

We thought of this when viewing a full-page advertisement in a national newspaper last week. It offered “Sealed Vault Bags full of heavy silver bars.” However, the offer was available only to people who had qualifying ZIP codes in 49 states. (Hawaii was omitted … perhaps because shipping the “heavy” bags is too expensive.)

The ad said that in Nebraska, only residents with ZIP codes beginning with 68 or 69 could “cash in” on this exclusive offer. But guess what … (BEG ITAL) all (END ITAL) ZIP codes in Nebraska begin with one of these two combinations of numbers.

The ad further stated that the promoter is “struggling to keep up with all the calls” and “bracing for all the calls and doing the best we can.” Readers were then warned that bags must be ordered “immediately” because they “can’t stop dealers and collectors from hoarding all … they can get their hands on.”

The “Silver Vault Bags are loaded with a small fortune of .999 pure Silver Bars,” trumpeted the ad. Pictures of the bars were shown, with piles of bags being wheeled around on heavy-duty carts by uniformed men with weapons at the ready. Under the pictures, in very small print, is a note that the photos of the bars themselves are enlarged.

Before deciding whether to call the toll-free number, we paused to review a few facts and do a little math. First, how much do these “heavy bars” weigh? The answer: ½ ounce each. (Pardon us, but we think a half ounce “bar” more closely resembles a small domino than a heavy bar.)

Next, what is the current price of ½ ounce of silver? The answer: about $7.50.

Then, how many bars are in each “Jumbo Silver Ballistic Bag?” The answer: 10. Finally: What is the asking price for each bag? $290, which the ad describes as “a real steal.”

The summary: Each bag contains 5 ounces of silver, fashioned into 10 pieces, worth about $37.50. The promoter wants you to pay $290.

We agree that this offer is a real steal … although in a different way than intended by the promoter.

But if you like it, Hall County’s courthouse might be for sale, too!

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