I've been reading a lot in the news lately about swindlers like Bernie Madoff, and I feel sorry for the people and charities who were duped. There, but for the money, go I.

I have a friend who says she wouldn't have fallen for Madoff because she has an excellent you-know-what detector.

I don't. I would have given Madoff everything I had. My you-know-what detector doesn't detect you-know-what.

Come to think of it, after two divorces, my you-know-what detector might be on the fritz. I'm starting to wonder if it ever worked at all. Honestly, I don't think I even got one in the first place. Maybe I was behind the door when they gave out the you-know-what detectors. Or my you-know-what detector was doing God-knows-what at the time.

Like that new TV show, about a guy who can tell you're lying by your facial expressions. That's impossible. I couldn't tell if someone was lying by their face unless they were flipping me the bird in front of it.

I guess the only protection against people like Madoff is to rely on your senses, but for me, that's like bringing a knife to a nuclear war. If my senses were my guide, I'd be up the creek without a bank account.

Let's review. There are five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch, plus a sixth sense only I have, namely, the knack for arriving at the store just after the sale is over.

We begin with sight.

I couldn't tell just by looking that Madoff was dishonest. On the contrary, the first time I saw his picture on the news, with his silvery hair and shy smile, his cute baseball cap and black quilted jacket, I thought to myself:

That guy is hot.

Then I checked his left hand, and of course, he was married. Even the cheaters are married. By all accounts, his wife is his adorable college sweetheart and they're very happy together, which means that she might be the only person on the planet he didn't cheat. So he stole from the poor, but he's a great husband.

You have to compromise in marriage.

So I hear.

I couldn't smell Madoff coming, even though I have the biggest nose in the universe, because my sense of smell is wacky. I love the scent of fresh basil, and I buy only orange-scented detergent because it's green, if you follow. I own 15 different perfumes for my multiple personalities, and I'm in a bad mood if I'm wearing Creed when I should be wearing Shalimar.

That said, horse manure sits in piles around the back of my house, and I don't mind it at all. It's not that I don't smell it, it's that I like the smell. The same goes for wet dogs, and if you could put that smell in a fancy bottle, I'd probably wear it instead of Shalimar.

Mine is not a nose that could detect a Bernie Madoff. For that, you might need a crime-stopping bloodhound like McGruff.

My sense of hearing is equally unreliable. For example, some evil person gave my old computer a virus, so I got a new one, which I hate. The new computer is so loud I can't even think. It has a fan in the back that whirs like a wind tunnel, and whenever I try to write, all I hear is the stupid fan. I won't even work in my office anymore because I hate the fan so much.

But, at the same time, I work with the TV or the satellite radio on, and sometimes with both. I also live with four dogs, three of which are barking at any given time, and the fourth is always growling at a cell phone, which is ringing.

None of these sounds bothers me. The computer, I want to throw out the window. So I would've been a sucker for Madoff's sweet, sweet words, especially the part where he was going to make me rich.

My sense of taste would be useless, because that's good only for detecting chocolate cake, and my sense of touch is notoriously out of touch.

What sense is left?

Common sense.

And nobody has that, where money is concerned.

Lisa Scottoline is a best-selling author of 15 novels, most recently "Lady Killer," now in paperback. Contact her at www.scottoline.com.