Writing Prompts: Scammers

Drawing inspiration from a post by Beetley Pete on this very subject, I thought I’d talk a little bit about scammers, and my own experiences with them.

The idea of a scam or ‘con’ is nothing new. Hustles, swindles, and the all the rest have been a part of human history since the very start. The snake oil salesmen were apt at exploiting people’s desires, and a lot of modern-day scammers prey upon people likely to be easily confused or scared, especially in regards to technology, but some still play upon our wants and needs. Pete’s post serves up an example that resonates; when I was self-published and looking for marketing/publishing options, I was in conversation with a few businesses, and in truth, I have no idea if they were setting me up for a fall. Due to the costs, I never went through with any of them, so I might have dodged a bullet or two there.

Virtually since the Internet Era, the email scam has been in full swing. I regularly receive emails from some random person, wanting to transfer the sum of several million dollars to me, for whatever nonsensical reason they’ve conjured up. Recently, I shared a post from Knotty, on the topic of PayPal con artists. A few weeks back, I had an email from someone claiming to have slipped malware onto my laptop, which they allegedly used to record me watching porn. They wanted £500 (in bitcoin) to keep quiet. Oddly enough, nothing ever came of that…

On occasion, I’ve had phone calls (which tend to come in on the mobile and landline in more or less equal measure) from ‘Windows’, talking about how they’ve detected a major fault with my PC. They wish you to go to a website, and download specific software to grant them access to the PC. DO NOT DO THIS! I haven’t fallen for this, but people sadly do, and this is how these scammers fleece you. They’ll effectively control your computer, and have access to your information.

Sometimes I’ll have fun with them, and string them along. Sometimes I’ll ask them awkward questions (what version of Windows am I running, which of my two PCs is at risk, I actually have iMacs, which don’t use Windows), and sometimes I’ll just hang up. I have little tolerance for scammers, who know they are taking advantage of others. I am not inclined to fall for their tricks, but I do try to keep abreast of how they evolve their tactics. Scammers are often quite clever, and they will never stop conjuring up new ways to steal, so we need to be vigilant.

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