I skipped Smoky-Drinky. The weather is now in melt-freeze mode so the pavements get smoother and shinier every night. Last time I went out drinking on a night like this I ended up with a smashed face and a cracked rib. So I stayed home with the bottle of Ben Bracken I had planned to take along.
Sometimes scams are hard to spot. As a general rule, if you’re offered something expensive for free, there is a catch and somewhere down the line you’ll be paying for it.
Lately I have seen a lot of Emails telling me I can test something expensive and then keep it. I have never responded because nobody gives away iPhones, other than phone contract people and you only get the phone if you sign up to two or more years of paying lots of money.
I have a PAYG phone. I used to have a contract, it was only about £10 a month but I was using the phone so little that I found I could go on PAYG and run it for less than £10 every three months. I am not interested in using it for anything but talk and text, I’m too old to squint at a little screen for internet or reading and while I have been impressed by the fancy gadgetry on the ones I’ve seen (seems everyone else has one now) I wouldn’t make use of it. I use the £20 phones and buy a new one when I break it.
Anyway, I couldn’t see the scam here. Surely if they send you something, you test it, write a report and keep the thing, that’s that? How can they wring money out of you?
Aha. It’s in the small print. You put in your mobile phone number and they can charge bills to your phone. You might or might not actually get the free thing but you will definitely get the bills.
Well, the effect would be limited on my phone because there’s never more than a tenner on it. It would be a bastard though, to find my phone has no credit when I suddenly decide I must, after all, use it.
There was a series of messages on my phone in December. On three consecutive days. The first was ‘You have received a premium text but you don’t have enough credit to download. Top up to receive the text’.
No. There was just under ten quid on the phone, therefore whatever this premium text was, it was going to cost at least ten quid to see it. If I am to pay to see something, I want some idea what it is first. Also, I do not pay people to talk to me. There are some I would pay not to, but that’s a different matter.
The second was ‘You have received a premium text from Vodafone etc’. Well, obviously I didn’t fall for the first one so they bung some authority in there. Not biting. I don’t care who sent it, I don’t care if it is a matter of national importance and sent by Mrs. Queen herself, I am not paying for it.
Then ‘You have received a premium text from Vodafone and it expires in three days etc’. Oh, the old limited time offer eh? That didn’t work either. I think they’ve given up now. Still haven’t topped up the credit and still have about £8 on there. They’ll have to be very patient to get money out of me.
Boss tells me she can’t ignore a ringing phone so if I ever have to phone her, she is guaranteed to answer. I told her I am perfectly capable of ignoring a ringing phone and never answer for at least four rings anyway. That cuts out most of the automated calls because by the time I pick up, she, and those like her, have already occupied the slots on the autodialler. All I get is silence.
The scam must work or it wouldn’t be done. It’s like those 419 scams which still arrive every day. ‘I am Someone Important and have a huge box of money and I want to sneak it out of the country into your bank account, so give me all your bank details and a copy of your passport and the keys to your life’.
President Assad’s wife has emailed me, so have several members of the Gadfly’s family, most of the Hong Kong banking community and someone in Ethiopia who considers me the most devout Christian on the planet. Um… I suspect she might have me mixed up with someone entirely not like me at all.
The first time I encountered those scam emails was when I was first equipped with email at work, in about 1991. They were transparently bollocks then and yet they are still going. Someone is falling for them. Enough people are falling for them to keep several scam groups employed, right up to this very day and even though the scam has been widely revealed as a scam. People are idiots and these days, the ‘get-rich-quick’ mentality makes life easy for scammers.
I have a different mentality. I used to work on the ‘get-rich-eventually’ plan but now I’m on the ‘why-bother-getting-rich-at-all?’ plan. The government is just going to steal it if you do. It’s a lot of work for no real gain.
Now we have X-factor and similar crap which gives people the idea they can be rich and famous without bothering to put in any effort at all. Just caterwaul on the TV and people will throw money at you. If soft tomatoes are money, then they’re on to a winner.
When they are told ‘You can’t do this’ they often have a tantrum. A few take it well, some are even well aware that they are just taking the piss and are only on there for a joke. Some of those actually manage to get close to the finals, which just shows the judges to be as easily scammed as those they are trying to scam.
It’s this modern expectancy that life must be safe and gentle, everything must be handed to you on a plate and you can have the Moon on a stick if you will but ask, that makes the scammer’s job so very easy. Modern schooling produces scam victims by the score. Come on, the 419 has been around so long surely it must be worth mentioning it when teaching kids about computers? How about the Western Union scams, where the scammer buys something then says he’s sending you a cheque for thousands and you have to send the balance to his mate he owes money to? The cheque will clear in a week, you’ll send the money by an untraceable route, then perhaps weeks later the cheque will bounce and all the money goes back out of your account. Basic knowledge of how the modern shambles that is banking actually works would help here.
Why are these never mentioned in schools, nor in business training courses? Especially the latter where money-handlers are supposed to learn how not to end up bankrupt.
Sometimes I wonder how people manage to find their way out of bed in the mornings.