Early one morning, I was staring blankly at my computer screen, in an utter fog, wishing I weren’t allergic to caffeine, when the following message from my friend G popped up in Facebook Messenger:
I knew right off the bat that this couldn’t be G. First of all, he would never call me Barbara. (The only person who ever used my full first name was my mother when she was pissed off.)
But the other big hint that this couldn’t be G was the fact that he passed away 3 months ago. For a split second, I wished fervently that it was really him, that his death was a huge mistake, but I knew better.
And that instantly infuriated me. This was clearly a scammer, and I bet he reached out to everyone on G’s contacts list, so that must have been a painful jolt to his wife and kids. How cruel.
So I decided to mess with this person.
Me: “Hi G! How are you?”
(As I typed that, I wished this guy was burning in hell.)
G: “Am fine, Busy online Searching on what to invest my Grant Money on and you?”
(Yep, definitely not G. G knew how to punctuate and capitalize.)
Me: “I’m good. Same old, same old.”
G: “Good. Was wondering if you’ve heard about the federal government grant?”
Me: “No I haven’t.”
G: “The Grant is placed for those who need assistance buying a home, paying for bills, starting their own business, going to school, or even helping raise their children with old and retired people .This is a new program, i got $100,000 delivered to me when i applied for the grant and you don’t have to pay it back.”
(I cannot believe anyone would fall for this scam during the Trump era. No way on earth is the government going to give us money to help ease our suffering, without some serious strings attached. This scammer must think the streets here are paved with gold.)
Me: “Wow. That’s good luck considering all you’ve been through.”
(Like, uh, dying.)
G: “Thought you might have heard about it already?”
Me: “No. We haven’t talked in months.”
(That’s putting it mildly. If only we could.)
G: “I contacted the online claiming agent through link and he checked me.”
Me: “Checked you for what?”
(Rabies? Psychopathy? A serious lack of common decency?)
“By the way, we should talk about the 900 dollars I owe you.”
(I threw that in just to see if I could get this guy spun up and excited and waste more of his time. The more of his time that I wasted, the less time he’d be spending scamming someone else. But at this point, the scammer went silent for a day. I guess it takes one to know one. So I decided to give it one last try.)
“Seriously, though, I do feel guilty for not paying you back yet.”
G: “Forget about that yet. I know when you have it you will pay up.”
(What a mensch. Especially since I never asked G for money in my life.)
“Let’s talk about the good news. If you click on this link and fill out this form, you might be able to get the grant money, too.”
That’s when I started getting bored with the game. Of course I wasn’t going to click on any link and turn over my social security number or my bank or credit card information, or open myself up to ransomware. So, for my final salvo, I decided to let him have it.
Me: “Sorry, ‘G’, I’m not going to click on your link, and here’s why. You stole the identity of one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known. He was kind and generous and supportive. He also died three months ago, leaving behind a lot of people who are heartbroken and who loved him very much. I doubt a scammer like you will ever be able to say the same thing, because you don’t build relationships, you take advantage of people. I think the real G would be highly amused by the fact that I’ve been able to waste so much of your time. I also think that since he was very protective of his loved ones, he’d be outraged to know that you probably also reached out to his wife and children, who are still grieving, and this must have given them considerable pain. Sitting in your dingy, third-world room in front of your crappy computer, you already know what I’m about to tell you: You are cursed. Maybe that’s revenge from my friend G and people like him, or bad karma from the pain you cause when you rob little old ladies of their life savings, or maybe it’s just your fate, but you wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t desperate for the one thing that will never make you happy: Money. Know this: NOTHING will ever go right for you for the rest of your life until you change your ways and try to have a positive impact on people, rather than a negative, toxic one. Right now, you are pathetic. But you don’t have to stay that way. It’s up to you.”
I doubt any of this will sink in. I’m sure it wasn’t even read. But I have to say, I feel cleansed.