Another Scammer Messed With

If you recall my post Messing with a Scammer, you’ll know that I take great delight in acting stupid and gullible in order to waste the time of a con artist. I look at it as a civic duty. The more time they spend with me, the less time they’ll spend bilking little old ladies out of their life savings.

It seems I’m not alone in this pastime, because a loved one of mine recently shared this exchange that he had with your basic scumbag. He was doing an honest day’s work when his phone beeped, and he came across a text from a coworker. But red flags went up because the text was coming from a strange number, and his language and syntax seemed a little off. I’m sure it wasn’t hard for the scammer to find out that they were coworkers on line, and then search for his phone number. Then they were off to the races, as the saying goes.

Scam1

Knowing his coworker would never make such a request, he decided to play along.

Scam2

Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen, buddy. So now he started acting like he wasn’t very clever about these complicated tech thingies.

Scam3

Scam4

Ooh, the genious scammer sent a photo! Just trying to be helpful. Which made my friend look on line for some photos of his own to send back.

Scam5

Now the scammer is convinced he is dealing with a fool. But he’s the fool. He sent his e-mail. Wanna mess with him too? Please, please do! Sign him up for as much spam e-mail as you can possibly think of.

Scam6.jpg

Scam7

Hee hee.

Scam8

Now Mr. Scammer starts getting testy.

Scam9

Scam10

I’d include more screen shots, but it’s just another 50 or so idiot-related images that my friend sent to tie up scammer’s phone. But hey, if the phone number or the e-mail are still active, I strongly encourage you to mess with this dimwit. It’s a dirty job, but in the end, it’s quite satisfying, and a lot more fun than waiting for karma to bite him in the butt.

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Chinese Robocalls Indignantly Revisited

Recently I wrote this post about my frustrations about not only getting robocalls on my phone, but getting them in Mandarin, a language I do not speak. Beyond irritating. After that post, though, a friend sent me this article from NPR that addresses these calls specifically.

Whereas I was irritated before, now I’m outraged. Nothing has changed for me personally. I’m still getting the stupid calls. I’m still blocking them. But now I know the heinous purpose behind those calls, and it has triggered my Capricornian desire to protect others from all things unjust in this world.

These Chinese scammers are not simply trying to sell me something. No. They’re hoping I’m a Chinese immigrant who is understandably nervous about the human rights violations that China is so well known for. These robocalls tell them that this call is from their embassy, and that they’re suspected of committing some crime or other, and that the way to resolve this issue is by sending money to this bank in Hong Kong.

It’s amazing that people still fall for this stuff in this day and age, but imagine what it must be like for these immigrants, who most likely still have family back in China. They don’t want trouble for anyone. According to this article, immigrants have paid out at least 2.5 million dollars since December.

That’s a highly lucrative scam, so rest assured, it’s not going to go away any time soon. It breaks my heart that so many people who have struggled to come to America are now losing their life savings in an effort to stay here. Con artists tend to prey on the most vulnerable among us.

I really don’t understand psychopaths. They are completely devoid of empathy, so do they have any problem at all looking in the mirror after devastating others? Nope. They’re just fine. It makes me sick. (If you are one of these people and you’re reading this, you are twisted and evil and I hope that karma rolls over you like a crosstown bus.)

All I can do is shake my head and do my best to spread the word. I hope you will, too. Meanwhile, here are some things you should do to avoid scammers in general.

  • If you don’t recognize a phone number, don’t answer your phone. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message.

  • If you do answer the phone and hear an automated voice, hang up immediately. If a company or individual really needs to speak to you, they won’t use a recording. If they do, whatever they have to say isn’t that important.

  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, especially your bank account number, your credit card number, or your social security number.

  • I have just downloaded an app to my phone called YouMail. It’s free, unless you upgrade for even more awesome features. It blocks many robocalls, and will even make them think your number is out of service so they don’t sell it on to the next scammer. It also provides you with personalized voice mail, auto-reply when you’re out of town or unavailable, conference calling, and reverse phone lookup. All for free. That seems like a pretty good deal to me. If it turns out to not work, I’ll be sure and let you know right here.

I hope you’ll all take a moment to have a conversation about scammers with the more vulnerable among us: the less tech-savvy, the very old, the very young, or the easily manipulated. This evil must end.

Robocalls

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On Being Catfished

I’ve been binge watching MTV’s “Catfish: The TV Show” for a few weeks now. (Yeah. I have no life.) It’s a reality show about online relationships.

To “Catfish” someone is to lure him or her into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.

What fascinates me about this program is the level of suspension of disbelief that people are willing to engage in when looking for love. They can be bobbing in a virtual sea of red flags, but prefer that state of denial to being all alone in the world. I kind of get that, actually, but it still makes me sad.

This show allows these couples to meet for the first time, and the results are usually heartbreaking. Almost always, at least one of the people is not who they claim to be. People often steal photos of younger or more attractive people off the internet, and use them to create fake profiles. The real person will often be older or fatter or even a different gender. And of course, a lot of married people use cyber relationships as a way to cheat without “really” cheating.

Also, people tend to make themselves appear much more successful in life than they actually turn out to be. It’s amazing how many people actually believe that professional models have to resort to cyberspace to find a mate. I mean, come on, now. Seriously?

Of all the episodes I’ve seen so far, though, the one that made the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up was Season 2, Episode 9: Artis & Jess. (Spoiler alert!) “Jess”, who appears to be a sexy young lady, turns out to be a really scary, mentally ill, and very angry man with no moral compass whatsoever. I thought that episode was going to end in violence, to be honest. I mean, this is a very, very bad dude. And he played with this guy’s emotions for 5 months.

That’s the tragic thing about catfishing. The sociopaths who engage in this practice do not seem to grasp that there are real people with real feelings involved. Usually these people are very lonely and very much in need of companionship and compassion. They are the most vulnerable among us, and the most susceptible to victimization. The most outrageous catfishers are the ones who reel people in and then extract money from them. That’s just wrong on so many levels.

So, imagine my horror when I was casually looking at the search terms that people have recently used to come across my blog, and one of the ones I found was, “image of a nice girl for Facebook”. That made my blood run cold, because I have, indeed, posted a few images of myself on this blog. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to use a photo of an overweight 52 year old woman to create a fake persona, even if I am quite a catch, but there you have it. Someone out there is looking to deceive. I just hope they didn’t settle on my image to do so. I’d hate to think that somewhere in this world there’s a lonely person gazing at my picture while having their heart broken.

Rule number one if you really want to make sure people are who they say they are: Video chat. Or, barring that, at least have them send you a photo of themselves holding a sign with your name on it, along with the front page of today’s newspaper. There are just too many sharks swimming amongst the good fish of this world.

Guard your heart. It’s a precious thing. And once it’s broken, it’s never the same.

catfish

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