We have all received those silly e-mails and phone calls trying to con us out of our money. I marvel at how people could be so gullible as to fall for those scams. When someone says “This is your Captain speaking and you have won a free cruise,” I hang up. Also, when I get a call that claims, “This is Revenue Canada and you owe us money,” I put the phone down.
the Nigerian scam
My favourite was the infamous Nigerian scam about sending money to buy cleaner for a dye that was on millions of American cash dollars. Who falls for that nonsense? The news reports tell us that it is largely seniors that are taken in. Well, I’m a senior citizen but that doesn’t mean I’m clueless. You can’t fool me. Last week I received an e-mail from my friend Robert who I haven’t seen in a month or so. The e-mail said he hated to bother me, but he was travelling and needed a favour. That was it. In my reply I said I was his humble servant so … name it. He replied that he was “on the road,” which I knew Robert was. He said his niece was having a birthday party and he wanted to send iTunes gift cards to her and four friends. It was a total of $500 and I could get the cards in any electronics retail store. Robert said he tried to do it by e-mail and credit card but couldn’t. My task was to get the cards and send the numbers on to Robert by e-mail and he would pay me when he got back. Now it seems odd, but Robert is very much a free spirit. I’m not an iTunes kind of person so I mentioned to one of my boys. He said there are numbers on those cards.
‘They didn’t match!’
The next e-mail was from me to Robert asking if the job needed to be done today. The reply was that he would appreciate it right away. I started my car and was ready to get the cards except I noticed poor spelling in the e-mail. I checked the e-mail address against an e-mail I had from Robert some months ago. They didn’t match!
I picked up the phone and Robert answered in a faked foreign accent. He said he had been fielding calls because his e-mail had been hacked and he expected a call.
I told him I was just checking and didn’t tell him I was on the verge of buying $500 worth of iTunes gift cards and sending them off into cyberspace.
Humbly, the lesson is learned. Bugs Bunny used to say “What a maroon!”
I, who thought myself so sophisticated, nearly got scammed and, when I look back at the e-mails, I feel dumb. The only upside is that Robert, in our phone conversation, said he was really impressed I would have done him a $500 favour. That is not much consolation.
NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org