One of the things I have missed during my stay in Germany is the telephone scammers. I don’t know if it is because Germans are too smart to be taken in, or the crooks don’t speak the language, but in four years I haven’t received one call from a dubious person trying to separate me from mty money.
In Canda thousands of people get duped every year by fraudulent phone calls. Some of them sound very convincing, others less so. Police have difficulty bringing these criminals to justice, as they seem usually to be located in India.
I received a call in March 2016 that was of the “”less so” variety, and thought we might revisit it today.
“Mr. Anderson, this is the Traffic Department calling. We are calling about a claim regarding an accident involving a vehicle registered to your address.”
The caller had a thick accent. Indian or Pakistani I would say. A little difficult to understand, but I know a scam when I see one. But I had a few spare minutes and these calls can be amusing.
“Do you remember having an accident last year sir? There is still an outstanding amount owing”
Nobody in the family had an accident last year. I should have asked whether it was with the BMW or the Lexus (we own neither) and had fun with that, but I went a different direction.
“I didn’t have an accident last year,” but I think Willow did.” it was obviously an unfamiliar name, I had to repeat it several times. The caller kept referring to “he” and “him” and I had to correct that.
Mind you, calling Willow “she” is stretching it a bit also. Willow was spayed a couple of years ago. Willow is a cat, one that I would just as soon be rid of. I saw an opportunity.
“Did Willow tell you the details of the accident?”
“No, Willow doesn’t talk to me. But I know she is accident-prone. She is always having accidents. If someone had an accident with the car it must have been her. I’m sure it was her fault.”
The scammer can smell the money at this point. Apparently there was an accident and I am not doubting the legitimacy of his “Traffic Department.” Time to move in for the kill.
“The amount owing is $600 and you can pay by phone right now, all I need is your VISA card number.”
If I had been really paying attention I would have given him my VISA card number. I was preparing dinner and not really concentrating on the call. I only have one VISA number memorized, the number of my very first credit card issued in 1973. I’ve switched financial institutions since then, haven’t had that card for twenty years – it probably would have been safe to give him the number. But I didn’t think of that until after the call.
It was by that point time to concentrate on preparing the food for dinner.
I asked what would happen if I didn’t pay. Turns out that would be very bad. Could Willow go to jail, I asked. Yes.
I’ve been trying to get rid of that cat for a year. Jail seemed like a nice spot for her. But I doubted the scammer was able to deliver on that threat. Too bad really.
So I went on the offensive.
“First I will need your VISA number.” He was confused. Certainly he couldn’t have heard me correctly. I was supposed to be giving him a number, not asking for one. He asked again.
“No,” I said, “You need to give me your VISA number first.” Silence. If confusion had a sound that would be it.
“Sir, Willow had an accident and you must pay $600. You must give me your VISA number. You need to pay me. Why would I give you my VISA number?”
It was time to concentrate on dinner, time to end the call, as amusing as I was finding it. “You need to give me your VISA number because you are a scammer and I want to get some money from your card.”
There was silence again, then he hung up. I guess he didn’t have much of a sense of humour.