12-26-2019 Tri-City Area History Page

The Paw Paw River Journal

Scamming the scammers

You know how we get those telephone calls, usually right about dinner time, and somebody on the other end of the line has a sad story, one of our grandchildren is in jail, or we’ve got a problem with our medical insurance and need to check the pin number. Or we’re in trouble with the IRS and need to provide some more information. What this means is that somebody is trying to get either your credit card numbers or your Social Security number. It also means if you give it to them your bank account or credit card account will be sucked dry! And somewhere in Africa or some Eastern European country a con artist will be counting your money into their account! And rubbing their hands together gleefully! But Americans are most ingenious and some have found ways to combat this! I would like to tell you a few… Our cousin, Bob Spies, had a simple solution. When some scammer called him at dinner time, he would listen most sympathetically, and then he would say, “Oh, just a minute, someone is at the door. Could you hold?” What could they do but agree. He would put the phone down and go back and eat dinner. When he was through he would just hang up the phone which by then was beeping a dial tone! I have used a more direct confrontation… the phone rings, I answer and a voice tells me that I am one of the winners on a sweepstake ticket. I say, “Am I talking to a real person? If so, listen to me! God is watching you! You are doing something very bad… hurting people. Some day you will have to pay for all the wrong things you have done. Why don’t you go out and get an honest job?” I hear a soft hanging up of the phone on the other end! I was talking with one of the girls who work here, Brittany, and I told her about this story. She said she had one experience with a phone scammer. One day she got a call! The man confirmed her name and then he asked her if she had any children. She knew right away what was happening, so she decided to play along! And I must say she is excellent at playacting. Putting on her best little old lady voice, she said, “Yes, I have two boys – Elliott and Jimmy. Why?” “Well, one of them was in an accident, and he needs your credit card!” She replied, “If it’s Elliott, forget it! I cut him off, and I don’t want to hear anything about him! I’ve written him right out of my will! He’s a very bad boy!” “No, it must be the other one… Jimmy!” So she asked him what color his hair is and he hemmed and hawed around and finally she told him if it’s kind of blonde, that must be Jimmy. “Yes, yes… it’s Jimmy and he needs your credit card so he can be treated in the emergency room.” “Just a minute while I look for it! I’d do anything for Jimmy!” Then she told me she started banging drawers and rattling papers. She could just imagine the guy on the other end rubbing his hands together gleefully! “You don’t mind waiting while I find it, do you? I know its right around here someplace! After a few minutes of that, she picked up the phone again and said, “I just used it the other day and I know its right around here someplace!” “No, no… that’s all right. I’ll wait!” And she went ahead opening and closing drawers and rattling papers. After several minutes of this and checking with him, she picked up the phone and there was only a dial tone. So he had finally given up. And she wondered if he turned to the other people working phones and said, “I just got a little old lady who was absolutely nuts… or I wonder. Could she have been scamming me????” Whichever they thought it was, I hope they took her name off the list so she will not be bothered anymore. The people who do it know how we all feel about those calls. We once met a man who ran one of those “boiler rooms,” as they are named. It was a social situation, and with the guys, as it usually does, the talk turned to what we do for a living. When it came to him (a very nice-looking businessman), he told the group that he was in the telephone survey business… and it finally came out! He was one of those scammers! We all made light of it, but I really would like to have told him what a blight it is on a day’s activity to have such a call, usually at dinner time. After that we saw him and his wife several times, usually in church. What a nice-looking couple! One would never dream he was in the business of trying to scam unsuspecting people out of their money. I think the ploy his callers used was… “Hello! You have won a great prize! A trip to the Caribbean…” and thus it went on. That seemed to be the kind of call that was going around our area at the time. I would be tempted to say, “live and let live” except for the fact that I believe a man’s home is his castle! Or hers, whichever the case may be. We have a right to privacy in our own domain. And I don’t believe those birds are weaving threads that we want to have in the Great Tapestry of Life in these storybook towns along the Paw Paw River.