Sunday, September 27, 2015

Don’t Fall into the Modus Operandi of Opportunists and Rogues

Dr Abe V Rotor
Beware. Don’t fall victim to impostors, opportunists and rogues. These are ten tips to protect yourself and other people.

1.     Have presence of mind always.
2.     Don’t be too confident and trusting.
3.     Avoid unlikely places and hour of the day.
4.     It is good to be with somebody or group you know.
5.     Distance yourself from suspecting characters.
6.     Dress simply and leave your valuables at home.  
7.     Screen and limit access of personal information about you.
8.     Be prepared for contingencies.  Be security-conscious always.  
9.     Keep emergency phone numbers and addresses ready at fingertips.
10.   Attend seminars and workshops on safety and security.

I am writing this article from fresh memory of an incident in which I am a victim.  I must admit I violated Rules 1, 2, 3 and 7 in the above list. 

First I was too trusting and confident in welcoming a “new found relative” – one Mario B. Rotor, incoming president of “The Leagues of Young Educators of  Regions I and II.” (See hand written note of the impostor.) Through  phone call, my wife endorsed this person to see me at UST where I was holding classes. (He had introduced himself on the phone, first to my daughter, then to my wife, picking up information in the process.)

Second, with this added information beefing up his readings and researches  about me, he was ready to meet me finally – “his successful ‘uncle’ whom he had been longing to meet personally.”  When I met him he practically knew me from head to foot, giving me a genuine impression about him as a new found nephew. I remember Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn”.  Quite similar to the story of the swindlers in these novels, he started greeting me “uncle”, with music in his voice and familiarity in ambiance.

The third rule I broke is that I was totally unsuspecting.  And this is when opportunists strike.  He came on a Saturday, just after noon time, met me at the entrance of the graduate school,  greeted the security guard and everyone else, with profuse courtesy. I led him to my classroom where I was going to give final examination.  He waited until I finished giving the instruction and questionnaire. I entertained him at the corridor. 

“Thank you for accepting our invitation to be our inducting officer and guest of honor,” he said, handing me the invitation, which has yet to be printed. “I’ll come back to give you the final copy, with your permission to print your name.” He told me how happy our relatives in the province are about me, that he is thankful to auntie (my wife) for arranging for this meeting.

“Why it’s an honor!”  I answered.  Who would not like to meet friends from both the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley where I was assigned for many years when I was regional director of then National Grains Authority. “I am sorry for the short notice,” he said.  It will be at the National Defense College Auditorium, Camp Aguinaldo, at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, which means the following day.

Now here is the climax of the modus operandi.  I offered him even only the cost of my food in the affair.  He refused.  “You are my guest,” he insisted. “Just donate a trophy,” he said. “Or the cost of it,” which I gave.  He told me he had to rush to Manila Bulletin. “I’ll see you there, uncle,” he said and  left.   

There was no induction ceremony, and the phone number he left is the operator’s at Camp Aguinaldo.  I came to know it only after he had left. When I reached home my wife and daughter exclaimed, “We thought he is the son of Vicente, your cousin.  His name is Mario B. Rotor, a teacher.”

Except for his extreme feminine nature – bodily and by his voice – he could pass for a polished conversationalist, quick in wit and in scribbling notes. He spoke Ilocano perfectly with proper intonation.  We talked in pure Ilocano throughout. He is around 5’ 4”, slim, kayumanggi, stoops a little, shoulders are rather high, and has rather sharp eyes, bony checks and prominent jaw, nose and ears (typical features of Rotors and Valdezes, so I thought).  I was looking at my uncle Manuel and Ismael in their younger days, except that he could be mistaken for a woman by his voice, even on the phone. (He called up UST twice, I received the second.)

I am relating this story to warn potential victims of this impostor.  What if the victim is not in his home ground?  Or a neophyte in the city?  His original plan according to my wife was to invite me outside.  He suggested a fast food store near Dapitan, or anywhere outside UST.

Reading the Person through Handwriting Analysis

As I went over the notes this impostor wrote, I wondered if handwriting analysis or graphology can really tell the true character of a person, and thus
tell us whether to avoid or welcome him, more so to be properly warned.  I know that graphology is among the tools used in the recruitment process administered by certain companies in the US and Europe, but is it sufficient to give us a keyhole view of hidden motives, other general personality characteristics?    

It is interesting to note the following features I observed on the impostor’s handwriting which are as follows: (See reproduction)

1.     His writing lies perfectly in between lines, the words rarely touching the lower or upper bars. (Sign of independence, cleverness, non-conformist)
2.     Heavy writing.  You can feel the back of the paper like Braille  (serious, intense, violent tendency, risk taker).
3.     Loops of letters f, g, p, y vary. A large loop is a sign of openness; while tight and sharp pointed loops show the opposite character.  Lack of “tail” after each word means an inward, silent character, but the sharp and deep downward strokes (f, p, t, l, I) show emotional intensity. 
4.     Ambivalence is also shown by the inconsistent writing pattern,  and inconsistent type and size of letters. There are letters, which cannot be immediately deciphered, or are missing.  (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome) 
5.     The dot of letter i, lies too far towards the right.  No dot is exactly above the letter i.   The letter t lacks the usual cross line at the top; instead it is cut at the middle either by a short dash or line that connects the nearby letter. Note wide spaces between words, large margins, and empty lines. (procrastination, loafer, tamad
6.     Writing has a feminist touch, which explain his personality.

I have always been fascinated by graphology since college days and through books in the library and bookstores I have learned a number of basic signs associated with talents, tendencies, etc.  I must admit that as a field in psychology, graphology faces many views and controversies (like Freudian and Jungian approaches in psychology), but with computers today, this new science can be developed into a potent tool in personality analysis.  I remember our teachers in elementary and high school who used to remind us in class that handwriting is the mirror of ourselves.

A Plea for Help as Modus Operandi

 I lived at Don Antonio Height 2 at our family residence way back in the seventies when the area was still sparsely populated.  One late evening I was awakened by a pleading sound, and when I looked from the veranda I saw a man apparently bleeding from wounds, leaning under a street lamp across  our house.  He was groaning and repeatedly pleading, “Dalhin ninyo ako sa ospital,” 

Our neighbor was also alerted.  As we had coded security communication, we cautiously observed the “victim”.  We sensed something wrong.  Apparently he was only acting. When he saw that we were armed and did not open our gates, he started walking away. There at the nearest curb he joined his companions, a  jeepload of tough guys, apparently hold uppers. 

After the incident the whole neighborhood arrived at a theory that the “wounded” person acted as a decoy.  In the process of being helped, his companions rush in, and declare a hold up.  This “pasok bahaymodus operandi is not new and has been modified into other varieties, such as  “akyat bahay”.  In this case the gang takes advantage of houses when the  residents are on vacation.

This mutual defense strategy proved to be an effective deterrent of a would-be crime. You can modify this according to your situation.  One is by having  coded night light or alarm.  The rule is that, “Do not lift the drawbridge or  open the fort gate,” so to speak, if you are living in a pioneer territory.  

Be Sure Your Car Doors are Locked

My cousin had a co-teacher at Ramon Magsaysay High School Manila who fought a hold upper.  She showed me both her hands bearing the scars of multiple wounds from knife. “My husband was also hurt,” she said.  “Thanks God we are still alive.”

This is her story.  Every morning the husband drives Remy, my cousin’s co-teacher, to Ramon Magsaysay before proceeding to his office. He would pick her up in the afternoon. For years this became a routine.

One morning while waiting for the green light at an intersection along Quezon Avenue, an unsuspecting man passing as a pedestrian suddenly opened the car’s rear door and occupied the backseat.  With a fan knife he declared a holdup. Resisting the threat, the husband fought.  The wife tried to help the husband. The struggle attracted passersby and pedestrians. The hold upper escaped, leaving the wounded couple that was immediately brought to the hospital.

Lesson:  Be sure to lock all doors of your car.  Roll up the windows to a level no one from outside can unlock and open the doors. When parking, leave the car immediately after locking the doors.  Be sure to put on the wheel or engine lock. Don’t linger around, more so stay inside and sleep while the aircon is on. You are an easy target of hold uppers.

When opening your garage when going out specially in the early morning, and upon arriving in the evening, look around first for any suspicious people around.  My friend, director Ruel Montenegro, lost his GSR Lancer this way.  His driver did not resist the hold upper who simply took the car from the garage.  It was never found. 

What rules did the couple violate?  First, they were not security-conscious. And second, they lacked the presence of mind at that time.  This is often the case  when we are preoccupied with routine activities. Again, as in my case they were too trusting and confident no one would harm them. In this civilized world we are still living in a jungle – a jungle made by man himself.

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