Thursday, December 11, 2014

You Poor Gullible Suckers!

Being a good skeptic requires that constantly remind myself that "There, but for the grace of God, go I."  If I’m not careful, I can allow myself to look down my large-ish nose at those of you who fall victim to scams. Every time I allow that, Karma delivers unto me a large slice of humble pie. Here are the details of that witches latest visit.

I received a call from an “investigator” for the Federal District Court Warrant Division. I immediately suspected a scam because, thanks to the statute of limitations, there was no reason the Feds would need to talk to me for any reason. But if I was wrong the ramifications were quite severe. Besides, assuming it was a scam, I wanted to know how it worked so I could write about it. So I let him reel me in.

This guy was professional yet assertive when he accused me of ignoring a Federal jury summons. He knew my wife’s name, my street address and some other personal details that  anyone could find about me but his preparation was impressive. At no point did he attempt to extort money from me. That omission caused me to further question my surety that he was a scammer. He knew exactly how to get me to overcome my suspicions. I told him I would research this and call him back.  

When I got home that evening, I thought it would be fun to have my wife call this guy and get to the bottom of the scam. I didn’t let on to her how scared I was. He told her that Federal Law would not allow him to reveal my information to her. Tammy told them I was mentally unstable, didn't think clearly, and was "freaking out" over this (all of which are partially true). She informed the investigator that she had Power of Attorney over me and demanded they tell her what she needed to to get this behind us. They finally “set the hook” by asking her to go to a CVS pharmacy, purchase a MoneyPak card for $350 then call them back with the card number. After blessing his heart for being so patient with us, she hung up and we had a laugh. I was far more relieved than I let on.
Don't EVER send a stranger a Moneypak. EVER! 

Afterwards I pondered all the poor souls out there that must be getting scammed at that very moment. If these guys could make me, an expert, sweat a little, they certainly could motivate someone less knowledgeable about this stuff. In fact, the very next day, I watched a local news report of a woman who had a similar scare from “the IRS.” There’s a similar scam floating around concerning Florence Utilities. There will be others and you or someone you know will get one of these calls.

The moral of the story: The moment you think you are smarter than someone else, Karma will invariably bring you down a notch.

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