Your most interesting scam?

Reminds me of the old story about a couple who received two tickets in the mail - to the local opera. Although there was no indication of who sent the tickets, they decided to use them. When they returned home that night they found that their house had been burglarized.

I get multiple phone calls daily from people wanting to buy my house, from real estate agents to couples calling out of the blue.

As far as my most interesting scam, in October, 1978, I somehow convinced my elementary school that the world was going to end.

Being a little shit, when Pope John Paul 1 died, I made up a biblical prophecy which states the world would end if two Popes ever died in the same month, this dire event occurring the next Friday, at noon.

Problem was, I told this to Lisa Hunter (oh, her red hair was magical to my 11yo eyes) who lived in a household where The National Enquirer and The Star were subscriptions. Lisa took this story to heart, ran with it through school so that the very next day kids were telling me about it.

In what may have been the first calculated, adult decision in my life I shut up. Just let it go, didn’t want to take credit OR say ‘no, I was just teasing Lisa’ or anything.

I just wanted to see what would happen.

12pm, Eastern Time, October 6th, 1978 approaches. Lunchtime for me and the rest of my grade. In Midvale Elementary, the cafeteria doubled as the theater, so the teachers ate on the ‘stage’ and the kids ate in the ‘theater’.

11:50… nothing.

11:55… starts to get a little quieter.

11:57… quiet deepens, teachers looking up in concern, some of them whispering to others.

11:59… deadly quiet. Nobody saying a thing. One girl bursts out crying. The teachers, now caught up to speed by those who actually interacted with their students, watching…

12:00… 12:01… 12:02… sighs of release, laughter, the older boys saying ‘I didn’t believe it, you pussy! You believed it!’

Was a truly fascinating and, oddly, powerful moment in my life.

And the closest thing to ‘my most interesting scam’.

It’s a better story if their car had been stolen for a joyride, and the opera tickets left on the dashboard with a note of apology saying it was a fraternity prank or something similar.

Someone keeps emailing me offering to make my penis bigger and rock hard.

Sorry. I will take you off the list.

About fifteen years ago, I stopped at a gas station to fuel up. There was a woman on a pay phone about ten or fifteen feet away (this was back when you could occasionally find a public pay phone). She was holding an agitated conversation, and crying. This went on for a minute, and then she blurted into the receiver something like “I just have to find somewhere to live!” and then slammed it down and continued crying.

My spidey senses were tingling, so I finished fueling up and started to drive way. But I remembered I wanted a bottle of water, so I pulled into the other side of the gas station market and went in. When I came out, a new customer was now at the pump where I had been, and the same woman was on the phone on another call and she was going through the same conversation, with the same inflections.

It finally clicked - she was grifting gas station customers. I drive past that same gas station at least once a week, and noticed a few years ago that that public phone has been removed.

Awesome. I take it that the school body tended to be of the sort for whom “biblical prophecy” would gain traction.

Tows the line between “scam callers” and “scummy collection agency” but a couple of years ago I received a really official sounding prerecorded message that went “Hello this is Attorney (something) from the (something) Law Firm alerting you to the fact that a (my sister with same last name) is past due for a $200 credit card payment to Victoria’s Secret. If this person does not respond to this phone call within 24 hours WE WILL take prompt legal action against them. Call us immediately back at (number)”

Now I’m fairly sure my sister did owe VS $200 as she was the type to open a “free” credit card at every single store then forget to pay them back because she had about 15 different store credit cards, but it’s clear whatever collection agency decided to blast every single person with the same last name in an attempt to “shame” her to payment, despite the fact legally at this point they couldn’t do shit ESPECIALLY not use lawyers to collect $200.

In the very land which would become GA 6, Newt Gingrich’s district.

I was approached by a good-looking woman outside a railway station who asked if she could borrow £20 to buy a train ticket to get home, as she had just been pickpocketed.
I offered to help (which pleased her), but when I explained I was going to go into the station and buy her the ticket, she got annoyed, swore at me and walked off to find another mark.

In Cambodia: “I am poor and this baby needs milk replacement.” I offer $5. “No, no,” she says, tugging my arm and dragging me toward a store, “$20, you buy milk replacement this store.” Nope, for many reasons.

I once got a snail-mailed scam letter from Toronto. . . I have to see if I can dig it up. It was hilarious to me, in the fact that someone printed up an email-worthy message onto a nice letterhead, put a stamp on it, and mailed it to my house in New Mexico.

I scanned it and saved it somewhere around here. . .