Remember something called a ‘land line’? In the days before cellular telephone machines, a land line was simply called a telephone, because there was no other option.
Today, none of my three grown (chronologically, anyway) sons have a land line. To millennials, using a land line is roughly the equivalent of listening to music on a gramophone. But me? As one of the last remaining people in North America who doesn’t own a cellphone (well, I have one, but it is so primitive it might as well be a tin can with a string attached), I am perfectly content with my old school land line. It’s dirt cheap, the batteries never run out, and I don’t have to worry about stuff like minutes or plans.
But for the first time, I’m considering getting rid of my land line. Or any kind of communication device. And it’s all because of would-be scam artists.
At least once a day, and generally twice or more, we get calls from numbers we do not know. It’s gotten to the point where if it’s not a number we recognize, we just don’t answer. I figure if it’s someone who really wants to talk to us, they’ll leave a message.
They never do.
For some reason, the wide world of telephone scams have our number in their electronic Rolodex. (Anybody remember a Rolodex? No?)
The last 30 calls on our phone, eight were from numbers we don’t know (I had one the other day from a phone number 780-100-3419). None of them left a message.
What are these calls? For some reason, we get almost weekly calls from the ‘Canada Revenue Agency’, which, if you listen to the calls, seem to be employing relatives of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. This scam, which shockingly seems to lure a lot of seniors, involves a recording of a heavily accented guy named “Sgt. Tom Smith” or something similar, telling me that the Canada Revenue Service is so angry at me that they are about to arrest me if I don’t all them. (The CBC show Marketplace tracked down where many of these calls are coming from, a call centre in India. The CBC asked the local cops why they didn’t do anything about it, and the top cop there said the RCMP in Canada never asked for their help.
Apparently, the Mounties only get their man if he’s living in Canada. An update on this story can be found here.)
The other common call, one I heard just yesterday when I violated my own ‘don’t answer numbers you don’t know’ rule, is a little more believable. It’s a recording, again, but this time a more upbeat, unaccented female voice. It’s from a credit card security service, warning me that my account might have been compromised. It sounds almost convincing, except the caller says she’s from “Visa Mastercard” services. Two different cards. Nice try.
I am tempted to let these calls go through, and once I get one a scumbag on the other line, to tear him a new one. I understand that this is not wise (who knows what kind of unholy telephone hell they might unleash on you), but boy, and I tempted.
I get a lot of more benign, and much funnier, scammers trying to contact me via email. Check out your spam folder; I’m sure you got lots of these, too. And they are hilarious. Consider this one, which I have copied exactly as it appeared in my spam folder.
Attention Dear Beneficiary:
How are you?well i have to inform you that your payment has been
approve,through Atm Card which will be send to you.I will meet the
minister of finance by Tomorrow to discuss on how i can obtain your
Atm Card,kindly provide me your mobile phone and your home address. i
will call you as soon as i finalize with them in this regard as soon
it given to me i will attach you the the copy so that you can view it
before going to Dhl to Register your parcel to you.
I want you to make sure your address you are sending to me is
correct because that is what i will submit to Dhl .You should keep fee
of your Atm Card delivery which i know that is around $245,00 for Dhl
delivery of your parcel to your door step.I too will update you by
tomorrow as soon as i finalize with the Cbn Governor and With the
Minister of Finance .
Thank you and i wait for your response now.
Here’s another one, that comes complete with a link to open.
We have just started our first quarterpromotion for 2018!
We have several packages for our selectedcustomers. Youve received this emailbecause you have been selected as one ofthem.Open your package now and see what we havefor you.
This one nicely comes with an unsubscribe link, which no doubt would take me directly to their scam headquarters. The return email address, by the way, is Josna Technologies. H. No 16-54/2, Postbox no-1, Ibrahimpatnam, Krishna AP 521456 – India.
Then there’s this one:
No tricksjust treats mauricetougas! Youve been selected to participate in a chanceto win a *Walmart Gift Card this Halloween! Just take our 30 second survey about your WalmartShopping Experience and youll get morechances.
Where’s it from? Yep, Josna Technologies. H. No 16-54/2, Postbox no-1, Ibrahimpatnam, Krishna AP 521456 – India.
Pathetic. While I find these spam emails quite hilarious in their brazen, blatant fraudulence, the phone calls are an irritating nuisance. And I know that they work on gullible seniors, which enrages me. I’m not an advocate of capital punishment, but I would make an exception in the case of scumbags who rip off seniors. But the emails? Keep ’em coming, Josna Technologies. Theyare hilarius.