Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Some Dumb, But Not Plum Dumb
Maybe they thought because I am past a certain age, I would fall for it.
Maybe they thought I would be so greedy, or so desperate, that I would go for it.
Maybe they just thought their paperwork was so genuine looking, that I would fall for it.
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They were wrong.
This week I received some paperwork in the mail, with air mail postage affixed, looking pretty "official".
Inside was a check that also looked real. I looked at both sides, I peered at it closely over a light bulb, and sure enough there was the watermark, that generally means the check is legitimate. This was not a little two-nickles-and-a-penny piece of paper, either. It was written in the amount of a few thousand dollars, to me, at my correct home address. Huh?
The *LOC and I are veteran Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy watchers, so we know about prizes and prize money. We watch folks win stuff most every evening.
Still, as I read, and re-read, the letter enclosed with the check it just didn't sit right. It purported to be a sweepstakes drawing for the customers of a group of stores at which I frequently shop, including the largest retailer in the world. It said it was limited to those who had shopped at these stores within the past six months (which I had done on any number of occasions.)
Further, it did not request any advance money to cash this check (although it mentioned taxes that would be due) and then an even larger check would be issued, as the "balance of my prize money" it said was due to be awarded to me. It did not request any personal information.
But it still did feel right. Something was just ever so slightly off about the whole deal.
What is the BBB (Better Business Bureau) for, if not for these very kinds of situations? But giving the BBB a call is not as easy as it once was. First, I had to check several phone books looking for a BBB listing. No luck.
Next, I chose the business organization that seemed to most closely align with good business practices and called their number. The lady there informed me that due to budget cuts, there was no longer any local BBB. The closest one was in Sacramento. She gave me the phone number.
A lady with a world-weary voice, name of Wynetta, answered my call. I described the material I had received, described the check and asked if they had received any reports of scams in our region resembling this?
"Oh, only about a ton.", she intoned in a bored tone.
"So it is a scam?", I asked, just to be sure I understood her laconic response.
"Yes, it is a scam."
"So the check is not real? Because it looks very real."
"Oh, it is real all right. You can deposit it in your bank and they will accept it."
I was sitting there holding the receiver with a puzzled look on my face, as she continued.
"And about thirty days from now you will get a call from your bank and you will owe them money."
"Ahhh, the check ultimately bounces, but meanwhile they have obtained my bank routing information from the back of the bad check stamped with my bank's information. Is that it?"
"Riiight" she drawled, even wearier than before.
I thanked her and hung up. As they say where I once lived for a short time, "I may be some dumb, but I'm not plum dumb."
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I just hate this sort of thing; not because I have ever fallen for one of these stupid scams, but because I am always reminded that some little old lady or man, somewhere, has opened one of the tens of thousands that they sent out, and the first thing they know, they have been cleaned out.
It always comes down to the oldest cautionary adage known, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
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Hope no one gave you any wooden nickles today. But if they tried it, I hope you gave them no satisfaction, and warned your next door neighbor. Until next time ... Marsha