Today’s special guest poster is Thomas White, author of a fantastic sounding novel Justice Rules. I’d like to offer a warm welcome to him, and pass the “blog” over to him! Welcome, Thomas!
By Thomas White Author of “Justice Rules”
The phone rang this morning at 6:00am. My daughter calling from college. My first thought was, “This can’t be good.” I answered. In a calm and very resourceful voice she said, “Aunt Brigid is in trouble. She is in London and was mugged at gunpoint. They took her phone, her credit cards and everything but their passports.” She needs a thousand dollars to get home.”
Groggy as I was my first response was, “Have her call Mary, they have more money than we do.” In a moment I realized what I had said and immediately began asking questions. Brigid is one of the best people I know. If she needed $1000 I know she is good for it. I quickly found out that my daughter was communicating with her aunt via Facebook. I logged on and started a conversation with her myself. I gave her my Amex card number and told her that I would send whatever she needed. She told me she was at a library and to wire the money to a Western Union address in London.
All I can say is THANK GOD FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS! I called the platinum emergency line and a very nice gal helped me out. When she heard that my sister-in-law was in London a red flag went up. She told me there was a lot of fraud coming from the London area. CRAP! I fell for it!. I quickly sat back down at the computer and asked Brigid if Greg and Julie were with her when she was mugged and are they okay. She replied that they were fine, which was great except that Greg and Julie do not exist.
I typed, “Nice try” and logged off. I had AMEX cancel my card and a new one will arrive tomorrow. I love AMEX.
What is significant about this is that it is the fourth time I have been hit by scammers in the last ten weeks or so. I wrote an earlier blog about it as a matter of fact. I can’t believe that I have been tagged so many times. I have yet to lose money but I came close this time. The perp had simply hacked into Brigid’s Facebook account and trolled around until he could IM someone. He happened to get my daughter. My daughter should have known immediately that something was up because no one in their right mind would have asked her for money. She is a college student with no available assets. But this guy struck the mother lode in that one contact. Brigid is from a family of 12 and several of us were ready to do whatever she needed done. Had it gone further they would have hit a big jackpot.
Some of the signs that I have noticed are rather consistent. The circumstance is extreme, either in a good way or a bad way. In this instance, a relative in trouble overseas. In prior instances a promise of a sale of goods or services. My wife’s catering company received an order for 300 sandwiches to be picked up. Just before paying via paypal the customer told us of a circumstance where the person picking up the sandwiches had lost his merchant account and could not process a credit card. Consequently, the customer was going to add an additional $600 to her invoice and she was to get the cash and pay the delivery person for him. She didn’t.
I was selling a piano via Craig’s List and the same thing happened. A person offered to buy the piano and have it picked up. Same thing, a problem with the delivery person’s merchant account. And just last week, an order to cater a wedding reception but there was a problem with the delivery of the chairs.
I am noticing that in each of these circumstances the language they used was out of place, such as calling a delivery person a shipper, or misuse of the language. These are both tell-tale signs. Many of these scams originate overseas and English may not be their first language. When the person ordering is in an extreme circumstance it is also a tell. The woman who wanted to buy my piano was an oceanographer and at sea, only capable of internet communication a few hours a day. The fellow who ordered the sandwiches was deaf. These things are concocted to make their story sound feasible but are becoming alerts for a scam in progress.
Be careful out there. “There are more ways in Heaven and Earth Horatio than are dreamt of in our philosophy.” The scams become more bold and more glaring. Remember, never give out any info over the internet, even if you know the person. Never exchange money for services that you do not provide and always allow for verification of any transaction.