Monday, 25 November 2013

‘Riding the Scam’ – My Fun, New Pastime.

I answered the phone one afternoon last week to a man’s voice on the other end saying:
“Hello ma’am” followed by unintelligible mumbling that ended with “you today?”
“Who is this?” I ask spidey senses tingling. 

The voice repeats itself:
“Hello ma’am” unintelligible mumbling “you today?”  I’m pretty sure I’m being scammed.  For some reason though, I keep going instead of slamming the phone down.
“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.  Who is this?” I ask again.
 Hubby, pouring tea, is looking very puzzled.

“Hello.  Ma’am.  This.  Is.  James.  S______.  How.  Are.  You.  Today?” 
He enunciates every syllable, as he clearly thinks he has a mental midget on the line. 
Oh, I’m being scammed and I’m getting attitude?  OK Buddy, game on!!
“James, okay.  I’m fine, how are you?”

“Good Ma’am.” (He’s really not doing himself any favours by calling me this!)  “I’m calling you today from Mega Millions lottery, to let you know you’ve won a prize.”
“I have?  Oooh!  How exciting!”  If I’m laying it on a bit thick, he either doesn’t get it, or is ignoring it.
“Yes ma’am.  You’ve won two million dollars and a …” I don’t hear what else I’ve won, because he’s mumbling again.

(As an aside here, to all the scammers who may be reading this, if you want to get through these calls as quickly as possible – and I assume you do; the faster you go, the more innocents you can scam, right? – good diction should be a must.  Not enunciating is slowing you down, boys; and it’s frustrating as hell for your scammees.  But, I digress…!)

“Hey dear, we’ve won $2M” I yell at the Hubster.
“That’s nice.”  He’s clearly underwhelmed.  Well maybe I won’t share!  Plus now, James is ticked because he’s been trying to give me important information while I was relaying the good news and I’ve missed it all.

 “Wait, how did this happen?  How come I won?”  I ask, not wanting to seem a total pushover.
“You were entered when you were shopping at a place like Wal-Mart or Target.”
Slick.  The answer rolls off his tongue, and he keeps right on trucking
 “Now ma’am, we have a lawyer on their way over to your house within the hour with the money and your card.”  Card?  I’m confused, but whatever.

“Now ma’am, what colour card would you like?  We have pearl white, black, red or blue?”
Again with the card?  And why do I care what colour FFS?  Still, I want to see where this ends up, so I say anything:
“Pearly white sounds good.  But what is this for again?  What is the colour for?”

“For your car, ma’am.”  Oh yeah, he definitely thinks I’m an idiot now.  “Your Mercedes.”
My car!  My Mercedes!  Shit, if I’d know that, I would’ve said red!  The desire to laugh is so hard, that I may have to shove my fingers in my mouth.
“I’ve won a car too?  A Mercedes?”  I manage to squeak.
Hubby, now sitting in a chair opposite, almost spits his tea with laughter.  I can’t look at him.

“Now ma’am, there’s just one thing I need you to do, before we can hand over the cheque and the car.”
OK.  Here comes the other shoe.
“I need you to pay the state taxes of $299 in order to receive your winnings.”

“So, I have to pay money before I can get money?” I ask.  James mumbles a lot; I want to make sure I’m clear on this.
“No, no ma’am.  We just need you to pay the state taxes.  That will be a total of $299 on this amount.”
(Jeez, I should find out which state that is, maybe move there.)  So, even though he’s just said ‘no’, the answer actually is, apparently, ‘yes’!

“But I don’t live in the States.” I tell him.  “I live in Canada, so I shouldn’t have to pay anything.”
He wasn’t buying it, but we did go through these arguments a couple more times, before he transferred me to his ‘boss’ Rick J______;  a gentleman who spoke more distinctly, but said exactly the same thing.

Long story short, because the rest of it, frankly, isn’t that funny (maybe the first bit was only funny to me!), I did finally hang up on them when they asked me to go to the nearest Western Union office to wire them the $299.

They were persistent little buggers though.  They tried calling me back two or three times more, before they finally gave up (I’m sure James really did think I was gonna fall for it).  But by that time I was on the phone with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

For me, this was twenty minutes of pure fun, all for free.  I encourage everyone to try it.  It’s intoxicating to be told that you’ve won that amount of money, even if you know they’re lying through their teeth.  I felt giddy, although some of that may also have come from the pleasure of knowing that I was ‘scamming’ the scammers.

What’s more, I’m starting to see this as a public service.  While I was having fun tying them up on the phone, I was stopping them from scamming somebody else.  Someone who might not have realized what was happening; someone who could ill afford $299 but might be tempted to try and get the bigger payoff.

Now I’m hooked!  I want more!  I want the scammers to phone! 

I doubt that James will be calling back anytime soon; if he’s smart (!) he’ll be on to me.  But maybe I can have a nice chat with one of those guys from ‘Microsoft’…!



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