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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Phone Scams & Hide-a-Beds

Skype Phone by re-ality
Under Attribution 2.5 Generic License
Another one of those calls – Because you are a valued (insert random company name here) customer you are entitled to receive (insert wildly unlikely reward here).  When I was working at a desk job, I often went along with it just to waste their time. I would ask a million questions and act excited while slowly giving out false credit card information. I figure I’m entitled to a little compensation: they are trying to rob me after all.
The last time it happened at work, I spent five minutes on the phone with the guy, trying to convince him to buy an old hide-a-bed couch that we had in our cellar. I was kind of amazed that he stayed on the line for so long. He kept telling me that he might be interested in the couch, but could he please have the information needed to sort out my credit card problem first. I finally told him that I had to go because I didn’t  think he was serious about the couch at all.
I even had someone claiming to be from the bank, except it wasn’t the bank that I dealt with. “A problem with my account?” I said, anger creeping into my voice. “The proceeds from selling the condo are in there,” I yelled, as my co-worker stuck her head over the cubicle wall with a raised eyebrow. “Are you telling me that you lost over two hundred grand of my money?” I could almost hear the heart palpitations on the other end of the line as my would-be thief imagined what he could do with all that cash. I kept him on the line for at least ten minutes while I went to look for my account information.
When I got back with a fresh mug of coffee I could hear him talking to someone in the background in hushed tones. I tapped the phone on the desk and they went silent. “OK, I have my statement here, what exactly do you need?” He was in the middle of telling me how I needed to give him the account number and online banking log-in when I cut him off. “Wait, did you say (insert random bank name here)?” When he confirmed that it was indeed that bank, I delivered the Coup de Grace. “Oh, I my account is with (insert MY bank name here). You must have the wrong number!” I sounded SO relieved. “You really scared me there!” I told him with the air of one who is re-living a frightening moment with an old companion – he hung up without another word.
It seems to me that the police don’t really seem to take this stuff seriously. They repeatedly claim that they aren’t able to do anything about it. Is it really that easy to hide from the police even when they have your phone number? Why do police shows like Law & Order – Elevator Inspection Unit always show someone sitting there with a pile of gear, tracing the bad guys call? Shouldn’t it be more realistic?
“Got the number, Captain! 555-1234.”
“Well, nothing we can do with it - our hands are tied.”
Kind of annoying really. With the money they blew on that tracing gear, they could have bought my old hide-a-bed for their break-room.
At least the Canadians have come up with a “do not call” registry. You send in your phone number and it goes on the list. Companies then have to subscribe to the list so they know who they can legally call. Even better, the scam artists subscribe to the list so they know who they can illegally call – no more random dialing for them! Personally, I can’t wait for the “Don’t mug me because I walk dark streets at night with tons of cash in my pocket registry” Should be a roaring success…
Anyway, I have to go. I’m helping the King of a small European nation move his cash out of the country. All I have to do is put enough seed money in his account here, so the Bank will give him a higher interest rate when he transfers his money.
Sounded like a really nice guy on the phone…

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