As I’m sure some of you have experienced, I’ve been hit by scammers during the pandemic, which is a form of insult to injury. They are skilled at manipulation and subterfuge. They know how to impersonate, to deceive, to falsify. They know how to get you to believe in what they are saying. They know all the keywords and trigger points and, like good salesmen, all the rebuttals to victim objections. They’ve been trained well to mine as much personal data as possible in a potentially short period of time. And even if they often don’t succeed, they know they’ll eventually find a person who takes the bait and swallows the hook. I was such a person, and I’m here to warn you so you will not be a victim to these predators.
The first example was an email from Amazon stating that an iPhone I’d ordered for almost $1000 was on the way and had been paid for. Only problem was the name of the customer was not mine. I ignored the email but the same one came again the next day, so I figured I’d better pursue this possible expensive error. I should have checked the address of the email, but foolishly didn’t. Instead, I went for the bait, and called the phone number on the email in case of questions or problems with the invoice. That’s when the skilled scammer entered my personal space.
To make a proverbial long story short, he proceeded to bilk me out of personal information that caused me to cancel my debit card, along with automatic payment information according to the new card, an inconvenience I truly could have done without. Even worse, I lost some precious hours of sleep, worrying over the implications of this breech of my personal identity. All I had to do to prevent this was to check the email source of the original email to find out it wasn’t from Amazon at all but some foreign source.
When I discovered the scam, and called the man with the foreign accent on it, and cursed him, he cursed me back, and I knew instantly that I was right. I hung up, relieved it had not gone beyond a point where it could not be rectified.
And then just a few days ago, another scammer attacked my defenses. This time it was someone who called himself The Crowdsourcing Ninja, promising to assist me in meeting my Kickstarter goal for a project related to my last book, Into the Woods…and Beyond. He claimed to have extensive online social media contacts, and for a $250 fee to work daily for two weeks in putting the word out to those thousands of contacts promoting my project. Every day, I’d get an email progress report of what he did that day–the same wording each day–with a caveat that it took time for people to get the message and donate to such a project. He guaranteed his work saying that if my goal was not met, he would refund my fee.
Well, my goal was met but only from donors whom I knew and contacted myself. There were none as a result of the Crowdfunding Ninja’s (aka Ryan West) efforts. When I questioned him about this, he admitted that he hadn’t done everything he said he’d done, only spending two days of the two weeks he’d promised contacting people. I asked for a refund, to which he agreed, but have never seen that refund, to date. I’ve sent three emails about this with no response, and so I am exposing this charlatan to you, my dear readers, and warning you to avoid this “Ninja”.
Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the most toxic scammer of all: Donald J. Trump (and his enablers), milking as much money as he can from his cult followers who believe his Big Lie that the election was fraudulent and really won by him. He scammed all of us, too, on the pandemic, actions that led to the deaths of over half a million Americans. He will go down as the absolute most notorious political scammer in American history. If you are presently allowing Trump to continue scamming you, please, give it up.
I’m sure some of you have your own stories to tell. I hope the above helps in avoiding future scams through a higher sense of awareness and good, healthy skepticism.
Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!