I was going to show you something really funny about a dolphin that wants to fornicate with jet skis, because it’s Wednesday and we know what we do on Wednesdays, but as you can see, we’re going to talk about scams instead.
See, something happened on my commute Monday that I decided preempted dolphin sex.
Guys, I got a phone call with a message that there were “four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment.”
I mean, that sounds like some real trouble, right? The message said I needed to call one of two numbers to find out how to stay out of jail.
Now, yes, I knew this was a scam. But I’m driving, and my fancy car has all these bells and whistles, and one of them is Bluetooth. So I did what any red-blooded woman faced with a commute, mischief in her heart, and the ability to say absurd things with a straight face would do.
I called one of those numbers. Now, if you’ve been following along at home, you know that I routinely call scammers and fraudsters (or email) and pretend to be interested in whatever they’re huckstering before letting them know I’m actually a journalist and I just wanted to get their song and dance directly from the source.
But Monday was going pretty well when I got those two phone calls, and I thought, “You know, I have this time, and if I can keep them on the phone long enough, they won’t be calling someone’s granny and scaring her half to death.”
So I called.
It rang for a minute, then a female answered.
Me: “Hi, I got a phone call from you guys that I had four serious charges? I can’t go to jail man.”
The lady asked me my name.
Me: “Shirley Temple.”
Lady: “Can you spell that last name?”
Me: “No, and please make sure you get this right because I can’t go to jail. T-E-M-P-L-E.”
Now, let me tell you that I thought for sure she’d hang up on me after that. When she didn’t, I uh, kept going.
Lady: “What’s your address?”
Me: “6326 Scammer Road.”
Me: “No. SCAMMER. S-C-A-M-M-E-R.”
Lady: “Zip code?”
Lady: “I’m not finding a Scammer Road in that zip code.”
Me: “Oh, it’s a new development. The roads are new so it’s not really in anyone’s system just yet.”
Lady: “Well I can’t go forward without it.”
Once again, I thought she would’ve realized I was not being serious, but she did not. So we kept going.
Me: “But I have my credit card right here. How else can I prove that’s my address? Maybe my bank statement?”
Lady: “That would be wonderful.”
Me, thinking to self: “I bet it would be.”
OK, so anything after this is just me purely upping the ante to see if she’ll hang up on me. I mean, I am still about 15 minutes from home, and the longer I keep her on the line, the longer she’s a) not scamming someone’s grandpa and b) questioning her life choices.
Me: “OK, but you’ll have to wait a little bit because I have to get it from the emergency goat.”
Lady: “Emergency … goat?”
Me: “Yes. Emergency goat. Don’t you have one?”
Like I said, at this point, I’m just keeping her on the phone, and pulling responses out of thin air.
Lady: “I don’t have an emergency goat?”
Me: “Well of course not. You’re law enforcement. You have an emergency ferret. Everyone knows that.”
Lady: (puzzled silence)
Me: “Lucky for you, I have an emergency ferret for sale. I take credit cards.”
And still, she didn’t hang up on me. I mean, I would’ve hung up on me by this point.
Me: “You can trust me.”
Lady: “You want me to give you money?”
Me: “No, of course not. I want you to pay me for a ferret.”
Lady: “I don’t want a ferret.”
I decide to scam her back.
Me, sounding angry: “Now listen here, you said you didn’t have one and I got this one and you need it, and that’s a contract. I expect you to wire me some ferret money right now. $500 per ferret. Is your husband in the IRS, too? You’ll need two in that case. $1000.”
Lady: “BUT I DON’T WANT A FERRET.”
Me: “I DON’T WANT YOU TO SCAM GRANNIES BY SCARING THEM INTO THINKING THEY’RE GOING TO JAIL, BUT HERE WE ARE, SHEILA.”
Lady: “My name isn’t Sheila.”
Me: “It is now.”
Lady: Hangs up.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had an empty space in my day to respond to scammers. But if you have been targeted by these guys (there’s two going around right now, one where you are told there are warrants for your arrest, and another that you owe money to the IRS), please know a few things (and make sure grandma and grandpa and other folks you think might get taken in by this know these things too):
- The IRS doesn’t call you. You get a series of letters sent to your house and then maybe your employer, and while you can call them, they’re not going to call you and tell you that you owe money and the police are coming.
- The police don’t do this either. You either get the big heavy knock of doom, or a letter.
- The IRS won’t let you pay your back taxes with gift cards. So don’t fall for that.
- You absolutely should frustrate these guys. They deserve it.
- Try to get money from them. I mean, you’re not going to get any, but the sheer confusion of having the tables turned on them is hilarious and cleansing. I once tried to sell Pampered Chef to an alleged “IRS agent,” saying that if he booked a party and I sold enough, I’d be able to pay him.
And, of course, you could just block their numbers. But where’s the fun in that?
In conclusion, don’t give your money to people who call you to tell you that you’re going to jail. And I promise, next week we’ll have fornicating dolphins.