George Graham

Scams are a Major Industry

fish-comic2

 

Is it just me, or do you get those phone calls from various faraway places warning you that your computer is messed up? The person on the phone – who claims to be a “Windows Technical Department” employee – wants you to let them control your computer remotely so they can show you all the horrors in your error logs. Then they try to talk you into paying them several hundred dollars to set things right.

I’ve been getting calls like that for months – no years. And I have hung up without saying anything, yelled insults at the phone, and so on. To no avail. The calls keep coming. Now, I tell them I don’t have a computer.

But that hasn’t stopped the calls.

I wonder how many people are employed in scams like this?

It seems scamming has become a top industry in America. (In Jamaica, too. Remember the infamous lottery scam, where a Jamaican voice announces you’ve won a million dollars and a Mercedes – or something similar?)

I get all kinds of suspicious calls. Sometimes, nobody’s there when I answer. And I understand those calls are from a computer validating my number for a mailing list or collecting some other information to use in scamming me.

By phone and by email, the offers pour in.

Sometimes I’ve won a vacation for two. Or a free medical alert system. Or free home security installation. Sometimes they want to pay off my mortgage, or pay my funeral expenses.

I hang up of course. And I delete those emails I get offering me free stuff or advising me to update my information on some web site. I figure they want me to reveal my Social Security number and other information so they can steal my identity.

I used to get emails from Nigeria offering me millions to help someone get money out of that country illegally, but those seem to have ended. I never answered any of them. As President Nixon famously said, I am not a crook.

And I don’t want to earn big money at home. I don’t want to become a mystery shopper. I don’t want a government grant to remodel our house.

If I’ve earned one thing in my 82 years on earth, it’s that there’s no free lunch. Whatever it is, I’ll end up with a bill.

But, even without me, the industry seems to be thriving.

Somebody must be paying the scammers, and somebody must be falling for the scams to keep them going for so many years.

I guess P. T. Barnum was right when he observed that a sucker is born every minute.

Here’s a list of popular scams.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com