Whatever one’s views on the afterworld, one suspects a special hell exists for those who prey on the elderly, such as in this sad story in The State.
Dick and Lillie Long, both in their 80s, have been swindled out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by hucksters promising lottery and sweepstakes riches.
Reading the article, it’s evident that the Longs present a perfect storm of opportunity for scammers: they have no children, nearby relatives visit just occasionally and Dick says he has an onset of dementia that can make him a little confused at times.
The Long’s phone rings practically non-stop from those with deals “too good to pass up,” and their mailbox is full of official-looking offers.
Since the people who have fleeced this couple and thousands of others like them apparently have little remorse, and this type of crime unfortunately is well down on the pecking order in terms of priority, one can only help that Dante’s vision of what happens to these swindlers in the afterlife bears some semblance to reality.
Cheats are assigned to the seventh bolgia, where they’re pursued and bitten by reptiles such as snakes and lizards. The full horror of the thieves’ punishment is revealed only gradually: just as they stole other people’s substance in life, their very identity becomes subject to theft here and the reptile bites force them to undergo various transformations.
Seems entirely fitting for those who wantonly rip off the infirm, sickly ailing or otherwise incapacitated.
(Above: The Flaming Spirits of the Evil Counsellors, “Gustave Doré, 1865)