As the holiday shopping season arrives, criminal masterminds are hatching brilliant schemes to separate the good citizens of North Texas from their hard-earned cash. One ingenious ploy that was apparently popular last year in Grand Prairie has come to Arlington: Selling iPads in gas station parking lots for enticingly low prices. When the money is exchanged and the scammers are gone, the merchandise turns out to be –– hang on to your hats –– fake!

I’m struggling to feel sympathy for the parties who’ve been fleeced. Instead, I’m going to make a request: If anyone is preparing to buy a $200 gadget normally priced at $800 from a total stranger parked at a Chevron, please send the cash to Jimmy Fowler care of the Fort Worth Weekly instead. Unlike those phony iPads, my gratitude will be 100% authentic.

People, please! The police should be charging an idiot tax to anyone who files a criminal report about something like this. Here’s another piece of advice: If you are approached by a man in a giant dog costume carrying a handwritten sign that reads “Puppies with Kanser,” your cash donation may not be helping sick animals. You have to stay two or three mental steps ahead of these crafty con artists.