Well I guess were at that time of year when loads of moneys being chucked around, much of it wasted, and no short amount being gained through deception. Throughout the year we hear the stories of one person or another having been duped by whichever latest is doing the rounds, the Spanish lottery winner scam seems to have taken quite a few in. Though in that case it appears an unfortunate mixture of greed and stupidity have conspired to bring the situation upon the hapless victims. How do you fall for the idea that youve won a lottery you didnt even enter, and then, and this is the bit that really baffles me, send these bogus lottery agents money so that you can have your winnings sent to you. In some cases these agents have their victims over and over again, coming up with ever new reasons for the winner to send on money to ensure the safe passage of their windfall. Dont get me wrong, these villains are scum, often preying on old and vulnerable people that can ill afford to lose their nest egg savings, but it is sometimes difficult to have sympathy with such blind stupidity.
I myself have a yearly letter from one such band of thieves, Domain Registry of America requesting that I fill in a form and send payment for the annual renewal of my web sites. This company have absolutely nothing to do with my web site suppliers www.2minutewebsite.com , but had I been daft enough to have filled in the form and paid up, I would also have been signing my sites over to them, so Id have lost my sites and paid for the privilege. Clearly these people have a degree of success otherwise they wouldnt bother with it, but not with this punter, this time. Ill be forwarding their letter to the appropriate authorities soon.
Then I began thinking of so many other scams Ive been hooked by, or nearly so.
The earliest proper scam for me was a transit van driven by some Irish lads, pulled up alongside me as I was walking through town, aalroyt there fella, would yez be wanten sum cheap but classy carpet there mate, and young muggings as I was, innocently never having been duped before, went along with their seemingly honest patter about the carpet being over ordered from a plush job out of town, we cant be taken it back wit us sunshine, sure n its a grand opportunity for yez so it is. They even drove me to my building society to get the money out. I remember the look of horror in my older and wiser brother, Stigs, face when he saw me returning home with these lads in their van, put them fuckin carpets back in your van, he dont want them he spat out with unveiled digust, he already knew them for what they were. But heres the bitter twist, out of sheer stupid pride, and determined that I knew better, this was elder brother younger brother stuff, he cant know better (he did and I was stung). So there you have it, they were driving off counting their takings, doubtless grinning, and on the lookout for the next dopey fool to take in. The carpet was thin, cheap, warehouse floor standard, I think it cost me a couple of hundred quid, back in about 1982, but it was the lesson I learnt which I would say made the experience worthwhile.
Not long after that, during the following Summer, I had an Italian, driving his Alpha Romeo, pull up alongside me while walking along Shoreham Beach. As he pulled over the first thought is hell be wanting directions, but no, stereotypical looking Italian, black silky long ish hair, smart appearance, he starts straight in with some spiel about coming back form an Expo somewhere or other, quickly flashes me some exhibitors badge, and explains hes been selling these fine leather jackets, but now hes returning to his native country and has these spare jackets which hell have to pay duty on if he takes them back with him. Would I be interested in taking advantage of this one off opportunity to buy one of these fine Italian leather jackets he had laying on his back seat sheathed in a plastic protective dust cover. They did indeed look fine to these untrained eyes, but I was both skint and uninterested, so I politely declined. As it turned out, I wasnt the only person he approached that day, hed clearly trawled all round Shoreham Beach in his search for victims, he also tried it on with my brother Stig, and obviously got nowhere there. But our Italian con man did trap a victim eventually, my sister, Lizbets, ex husband, (husband then) Dave proudly showing off his flash new jacket to all down at the Lady Jane pub. It looked fine, it just wasnt leather.
Now these are small time scams, the step up in my personal experience, unfortunately came at the expense of my parents, and involving Irish road workers this time.
Wed all left home by now, so were unable to do anything about the situation until it was too late. Irish fellas turn up at the parents door, hello there sor, were joost werkin along da road tarmacin, and weve some spare, wid yez be interested in us tarmacin yerz driveway sor?. Sure enough dear old Da had long wished to do just such a thing, but not got around to it, so this seemed an ideal opportunity to get it done for what he was informed would be, 'on the cheap'. I remember turning up and seeing these lads hard at it laying tarmac, and thinking, so the Old Boy finally got round to it. Well it barely took a week after hed parted with £6000 cash, and theyd long gone, that weeds started to spring up everywhere through the tarmac, they hadnt prepped anything, just threw it down over whatever the surface was. We were all seething with anger at these scumbags, but couldnt say as much in front of the Old Fella, because we knew it hurt him to have been so badly duped.
But that wasnt the end of it, this filth obviously have a well worked network, and soon enough he had another knock on the door, ah grief der Sor, dats a terrible job a yez driveway soomwuns made der so it is, wid yez like us to come in and put it right for yez?, I dont remember seeing this lot, but they fleeced another £3000 out of him, but this time the weeds took a little longer to come back through.
Another incident, Im afraid to say, involving Irish lads again, had my mate Dez, a roofer, buying what he thought was a tasty looking digital camera for £100, hed held it, tried it out, paid up, and quite happy. Until, that is, he opened the box to show off his acquisition to his lad, only to find a stone inside, probably removed earlier from the beach.
I guess there must be some trustworthy people that go knocking on doors to drum up business, but if they come to you, just be extra wary, especially if his spanking new 4 by 4, or transit van parked outside, has a motorway maintenance sticker on the back window.
Most scammers rely on a certain amount of greed from their victims, so youll always have a degree of guilt in your head that perhaps you deserved to get turned over. But remember, these people are at it 24/7, theyre masters at their trade, and most of all, they prey on decent people that dont spend every waking hour mistrusting everything theyre surrounded by. Its an unfortunate fact of life that as long as there are decent folk around, then there will always be these parasites looking to scam them. Thats one of the biggest reasons that I very rarely trust anyone with too much chat, always saying how good they are at this or that, these are the sort that make up the largest percentage of scammers. Many of this breed go on to be unscrupulous salesmen, looking for a legal way to scam, flogging whatever the latest commission based product is out there, often major utilities companies, water, gas, electricity, satellite tv, which these speed bullshit merchants get to represent. Youll often come across them stood outside your major out of town shopping centres, intimidating old people into listening to their patter. If you see them, complain to the store, if enough people do then you deprive these parasites of one of their favoured stamping grounds.
Basically, never let anyone rush you into a decision, the more pushy they are, the less you should trust them, the sooner they can blag their victim, the sooner they can move on to their next. Ive only covered the scams Ive personally come across, and not all of those, I hope this will be a wake up call for those blissfully unaware of such goings on.
If any of you would like to share your scam experiences, Id love to hear them, and if theyre worth it and you dont mind, Ill post them on this page for others to check out and be forewarned. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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