Scammer calls. Does anyone actually fall for them?

This is my kind of Trabant.

I actually used the “1972 Trabant” line on an Extended Warranty scammer yesterday. Immediate disconnect.

I’ve gotten the calls from the ‘federal Department of Education’ about getting my student loan up to date for a small extra fee.

I’m smart enough to know that there is no federal Department of Education in Canada; education is handled provincially. There are federal student loans, but they are handled by the National Student Loan Service Centre, whose website I check every month so I can see my payments register and my amount owing going down.

I get a lot of short silent voicemail messages. I also get a lot of spam calls in Chinese; my number is a Toronto number, so I guess they think there’s a good chance I speak Chinese.

Lately, I’ve gotten spam text messages. They are usually of the type saying that I have a refund available from Interac or a cellphone company I no longer have an account with. There’s always a link in the message that I will never click on. I think that they mention that specific cellphone company because my number was originally with it.

Lately, just in the past couple of days, I’ve gotten several scammer Facebook friend requests. They have all had the same form: improbably young and sexy person wants friendship, and is starting some sort of a sexual service to help the lonely.

I never read the blurb beyond that point because my scammer alarm was going off deafeningly. Checking the ‘about’ info was interesting: very few details, but always exactly three friend contacts.

Now, I know that real young people would never be interested in me because I am an ugly middle-aged man. Even when I was young, attractive people (and my definition of ‘attractive’ has gotten a lot wider as I have gotten older) never exactly threw themselves at my feet. Some years ago, though, i did get pulled into a chat situation with a younger and allegedly-gorgeous French speaker, but bailed after a few days when it began to seem suspicious.

So I can really see how anyone could be captured if they have an off-day…

Last Friday my dad and I were returning from doing some business (he was driving). My cellphone rang - it was an unknown local number - and I answered because I was expecting a call from a business. It was the car warranty scam and I laughed and laughed before hanging up on them.

Why? Because we were returning from car shopping for me as my car got totalled in an accident - t-boned. I was waiting for a call from the local insurance appraiser.

Talk about your bad timing!

I almost never use Skype anymore, but I have a bunch of missed calls from young and sexy sounding female names. I don’t know if it is a scam or just a sex line, I’ve never investigated.

I was visiting my mom at her old folks residence today, and noticed that they had a sign up in the elevator warning about phone scams and reminding people not to give out any information over the phone.

So it’s enough of a problem for that to be needed.

I haven’t read through the entire thread so this one may have already been discussed. My cellphone rang about 12:30 am last night, waking me up. I didn’t recognize the number so I hit Ignore and let it go to voicemail, and I went back to sleep. I checked my vm this morning, it was an automated call asking me to accept a collect call from “Jeff” at the Lansing (KS) Correctional Facility. My wife did some googling and discovered a number of possible scams related to this - either an actual inmate trying to pull a scam, or just a scammer who wants to make you think someone you know is in prison.

Or a legitimate wrong number.

Or “oh, that Jeff”.

I was visiting my parents and my father answered the phone. He’s 80 and still mentally sound. Someone was asking to talk to Grandpa. He played along for a minute until they asked for money. Then he hung up.

My dad, of course, knew that he doesn’t have a grandson. But I could definitely see that working if he was older, in a diminished mental state and had a grandson.

Well… Kinda real. :grin:

Bumping this because I got a new one.

On Sunday I got a WhatsApp message from Penelope Jones saying “Long time no see - are you still in the UK?

Who the hell is Penelope Jones? Now, when I worked I used to be fairly familiar with many people located all over the world. It was plausible that this was someone I had known slightly but could no longer quite place. But that question - “are you still in the UK?” - sounded wrong. I searched my emails and didn’t find the name. So I left the message unopened.

Today Sheree (forgot the last name and I’m not clicking on the message to check it) messaged me saying “Long time no see - are you still in the UK?

Ah I see. It turns out that WhatsApp scams are pretty common.


I don’t know what the stats are, but as many of the replies here indicate, the yield of victims from all scams (not just phone scams, but emails and texts) is clearly non-zero. The despicable thing about these scams is that a high percentage of the victims are elderly, because they may not be familiar with modern technology and methods and may even not be thinking clearly. And these are the people often least able to afford the losses.

I’ve received a number of these scams myself – not many, but enough to get a sense of the commonality. And the common factor in all of them is that they’re all implausible, often wildly so. The scammers, basically, are not very bright, or are just limited in what they can do.

For instance once or twice I got phone messages about overdue income tax, and that if payment was not received in a matter of some hours, police would be on their way to arrest me. As most of us also know, if one does respond to this, it turns out that, remarkably, the government authorities not only accept all the common gift cards as payment, they seem to actually require them! There are so many things so profoundly stupid and non-credible about this scam that it’s amazing that anybody ever falls for it, yet some elderly people have lost thousands of dollars to it.

The key to avoiding all such scams is to give it a moment’s thought and understand that the world just doesn’t work the way that is being represented. Sometimes it’s ridiculous, like the Nigerian prince scam (and yes, people have fallen for that, too). Sometimes it’s more subtle. But it’s almost always laughably inept.

The only scam I’ve ever received that might have even remotely been considered by the scammer to be credible is an email from a good friend’s email account saying that he was overseas in Europe, his wallet had been stolen, and he was desperate for cash to get back home, and indicating how I could send it and of course he would pay me back as soon as he returned.

This is a common type of scam, and a common variant is a son who needs money for bail or some other urgent thing. The hilarious thing about the friend-stranded-overseas scam is that (a) this particular individual is quite wealthy and would have access to funds in many different ways, (b) is thrifty and conservative and would surely have purchased a round-trip ticket, which would not have been in his wallet, and (c) is basically a homebody who hates travelling, and is the last person on earth to suddenly (and without even telling me) take off on a trip to Europe.

I responded to my friend over this same email account telling him that his account had been hacked, but even then the scammer was persistent, insisting that no, no, this is really me! What a jerk! I got in touch with my friend over the phone (he was, of course, home) and he was incredibly pissed off that someone had been using his account for this scam.

Sorry for ranting in Factual Questions, but if people would just stop and think – and, if really necessary, verify – then scammers would get nowhere.

The same thing happened to me a few days ago. I got a couple of WhatsApp messages from two women asking me “are you still in the US?”. The dead giveaways were that:

  1. Based on my foreign-sounding name, they composed the rest of their messages in the language they presumed I could speak, whereas anyone who actually knew me would know that I grew up practically my whole life in the U.S. and have poor fluency in the language of my native country

  2. Their profile pictures were of attractive females, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my life, no real attractive women would reach out to me willingly unless there is some nefarious ulterior motive. So there’s a 99% chance that they are just men using fake pictures

Naturally, I deleted the messages without a second thought. I can see how other desperate, less rationally-inclined men might fall for their bait though.

Not according to this.

I’m surprised that a younger demographic is being victimized to that extent, and thanks for the information. More ignorance fought! Yet the fact remains that seniors are, indeed, a vulnerable demographic, too, and I’ve seen many sad horror stories about fraud against seniors. A few items here …

LOL! There was a period of a few months where I was apparently the object of email-based lust from dozens of young women, none of whom I had ever heard of, but all of whom apparently either remembered me from the distant past or, I assume, had just discovered me and couldn’t contain their lust. All of them wanted nothing more than to rekindle the old flame, or start a new inferno, or at least set fire to the sofa or something, from what I gathered.

It was quite satisfying to be sought after by so many attractive young women, but sadly, it all tapered off quite suddenly, presumably after a raft of account terminations and perhaps legal actions against scammers in places like Guangdong and Punjab. I am, in any event, no longer the object of lust. :frowning_face:

I mainly get these in the form of Facebook friend requests, which are tamer than wolfpup’s experience but no more believable. I told my daughter that in more innocent times these would have been referred to as gold-diggers; she corrected me that the current term is catfishing, which is if anything even more bizarre.

In any event, even I am not stupid enough to believe the pictures are real. And my reaction remains the same, which is similar to one attributed to Groucho Marx: that he wouldn’t want to belong to any club desperate enough have him as a member.

ETA: In any transaction I didn’t initiate, I try to be guided by something I was told long ago by someone far wiser than I will ever be: that if you can’t spot the sucker in the deal, it’s most likely you.

I almost never use Skype any more, but when I do I see missed calls from women who just want to chat.
Pull the other one, it has bells on.

I suspect that one of the factors in the vulnerability of young people is that they have somewhat of a tendency to regard scams as a thing that happens to older people. In a more general sense, people seem to think scams happen to [not me] - they happen to greedy people, or stupid people, or gullible people or stupid old gullible greedy people, and believing themselves to be none of the above, they feel safe, and when they feel safe, their guard is down.