Clever People Share Stories Of How They Outsmarted A Scammer.
Personally, when I get a scam phone call - hang up. When someone comes up to me with some bogus proposal - I politely decline. But these folks take it a step further.
This piece is based on a Quora question. Link on the last page.
1. I'm the CEO of the internet.
I was at my grandparents house one day when a man called and said I am calling from the internet. You have a virus on your computer.
It caught me off guard. Where did you say youre calling from?
Sir, I am calling from The Internet.
I was getting over laryngitis, so my voice sounded raspy. I guess he thought I was an old guy or something, and figured he could take advantage of me. I decided to play along. So, I asked, hows it going at The Internet?
We are doing fine, sir. The reason for my call is that you have a virus on your computer. Do you own a computer?
Why yes I do.
Okay, well I can help you remove the virus. First go to My Computer.
Where is YOUR computer?
No, My Computer. Its an icon.
An icon? Like Frank Sinatra?
On the screen. It says My Computer and has a picture of a computer.
My granddaughters picture is on the screen right now.
I got bored after a while, so I told him it wasnt working out over the phone. Im sorry son, Im just going to have to bring it in so you can fix it. Where is your store located?
Sir, Im calling from The Internet. We dont have a store.
Well, I bought the computer from Best Buy. Ill meet you there in about 45 minutes?
Sir, we dont have a store.
Okay, Ill see you there!
He never called back.
2. Tale as old as time.
Late afternoon, on my way back to my dorm, Pink Floyd in my ears when I saw this lady walking towards me, smiling. She was absolutely gorgeous, well dressed, and waving towards me.
Obviously I looked around, certain she couldnt be waving at me. But she approached me and said hello there. (continued...)
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Baffled, I removed my headphones and replied back.
Lady: Im in some trouble and Im really looking for some help. I need to meet my brother really soon and I dont have enough money for gas. Would you mind lending me $10?
So I handed her ten bucks. Im the type of person who usually helps others when I can. That day I had some extra cash, so I did.
A couple of months later, I was on campus chatting with my buddy and this absolutely gorgeous lady approaches us.
Lady: Sorry to disturb you guys, I see youre having a great chat. Im missing out on some gas money and I need to go see my brother. Do you have a spare $10?
Me and friend: Sorry, we dont have cash on us.
The lady looked at us weird, turned around and made some comment. Me and my friend didnt bother.
However, something struck me then. I knew that lady. But it was too late to say anything; I turned around and she was gone.
A couple of months later, I bumped into her again.
I decided to be a jerk that day and as soon as she started speaking I put on my evil grin.
Lady: Sorry sir, I nee-
Me: Ahh, you need to go meet your brother and youre wondering if I have $10 to spare. This is the third time youve asked me.
Her phony smile vanished.
Me: But here, Ill make you a deal - if you can come up with a new excuse right here on the spot, Ill give you twenty. Go ahead. You're the con artist. It's show time.
She swore at me and bolted. Never saw her around campus again.
3. Cheat better!
So Im in chemistry class during sophomore year and my friend is out sick. He and I always sat together so there was an empty seat next to me.
We had a quiz that day. The other kids considered me to be the smartest one in the class. Im sitting in my seat as my teacher is distributing the quiz and suddenly the most ignorant person in the whole class comes and sits down next to me. (continued...)
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Now the reason why I dislike this person is not because she is dumb, its because she does not try. It bothers me when people accept themselves as stupid and never actively try to improve themselves.
I knew as soon as she plopped herself down next to me that she intended to cheat off my test. So I devised a plan. I decided to write in the most nonsense answers and let her clearly see my test the whole time.
As Im circling in the wrong bubbles and answering questions with made up jargon I finish the test. I get up to hand in the test and she follows. I let her hand the test in first and she confidently does so.
Right after I scream, OMG!!
I grab an eraser and erase all the answers on my test. She stares at me. I smirk at her.
She looks at the teacher then looks at me.
And then storms out of the room.
She got a 0% on that test. Dont Cheat. Or if you do, dont accept ideas blindly.
4. Mambo number 5.
I was a teenager buying a ticket at the Cyclone, the classic wooden roller coaster at Coney Island. The ticket cost $1 (this was back in the 1960s) and I gave the man a $5 bill. He counted out my change, and handed me the ticket and dollar bills. He slowly counted, One, two, three, four. That sounds right, doesnt it? But the one was for the ticket. He paused. I waited. He paused. I looked him in the eye. Then he took one more one dollar bill, handed it to me, and said five.
Id bet that his trick worked on many teenagers.
5. You've got gas.
I was at a Walmart parking lot, and a woman came up to me asking for gas money. I asked where her car was and she indicated that it was on the side of the road about two blocks away, but if I gave her five dollars, she'd buy gas and would be able to get back to her home some miles away, get her wallet she had left behind, and pick up her child she'd left in someone else's care.
She swore it wasn't going to be used for drink or drugs. In fact, if I gave her my name and address, she would send me the five dollars back.
Then I asked her where her gas can was. (continued...)
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She said she did not have one. She asked if I could spare $3 for gas. I said you will need a gas can to carry gas to your car; filling stations don't lend them out anymore. "Come on. " I said, "Let's go inside, and I'll buy you a gas can."
" But-but... I need money for gas."
"Money for gas isn't going to do you any good without a container to put it in; I will buy one."
"But...but you don't understand. I need money for gas."
"I understand perfectly. Goodbye."
6. A shell-tered life.
Years ago I was going downtown with a couple friends to watch a baseball game. We parked pretty far away in a slightly sketchy area, but in a secure garage. Walking to the stadium, a crowd of maybe 1012 people were gathered around 3 guys running a shell game - the kind where they put a pea or colored ball under one of the three shells and move them around quickly, then the player has to guess which one its under.
These games are usually rigged with the shuffler palming the ball quickly so its impossible for the player to win, and I knew that. I watched carefully and thought I saw him doing that. I told my friends, one of whom was a pretty big guy, to back me up.
I waited a minute or two for my turn as player, and when the shuffler stopped moving the shells around and asked me to make my pick, I said middle at the same time as I grabbed the two outside shells and raised them to show nothing was under them. Since his only options were to either pay me the $20 I bet, or lift the middle one and show he was cheating, he paid me and quickly said, Next player, No touching the shells!
A few of the people in the crowd figured out something was going on and as we walked away, about half his crowd followed. The two other guys were staring daggers at me, but didnt do anything else. I used the $20 to buy the first round of beers.
7. Dude... I know who my own family is.
Recently, I was staying at my parents house and the phone rang. A guy with a strong Mexican accent asked for my grandma (who passed away a few years ago, but the phone is in her name) and I said it was me. I thought it might be an extortion call. (continued...)
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Man: It is me, auntie!
Me: Who is it?
Man: Me! Your beloved nephew! Don't you remember me anymore?
Me: Quique! So nice to hear from you! How are you? How are your wife and kids?
Man: Look auntie, Im on my way home but I got stuck at the airport! Please, help me! I need money to buy a ticked. Can you send me $1000 through Western Union today? I Will pay you back tomorrow as soon as I get home!
Me: Are you sure you can fix it with only $1000? I can send you more just in case.
Man: Thanks auntie! Let's make it $3000?
Me: I will send you $5000. Call me in a bit to give you the transfer number.
Me: Hi! Could you do it?
Me: I just remembered that Quique is not my nephew, he is my grandson.
And I hung up.
8. Jeez, I'm not trying to buy the place.
I was out for a bicycle ride with my girlfriend, and I stopped to take a photo of a picturesque house on a pond. Before Id even gotten the shot lined up, I heard an annoyed voice behind me. Excuse me, what are you doing?
I turned around to find an annoyed, snotty little man in an expensive little convertible. His girlfriend looked embarrassed.
Being quite aware of my rights as a photographer, I simply said, Taking a picture of this landscape and house.
Well, thats MY house. And theres a $25 fee to take a picture of it.
I gave him a concerned, pitying look. You dont know who I am, do you?
Half a dozen expressions crossed his face in a second. Was I some famous photographer? Crap, I dont know. I should knowhe thinks I should know. Apprehensively, he says, No... (continued...)
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I smile. Wait a beat. Alright then, send me the bill.
A few seconds of agonized expressions crossed his face, and he drove off in a huff. His girlfriend was trying to hide her laughter.
9. Phoney baloney.
My wife and I went to get phone updates this weekend. Got new phones and a new plan. The plan included emergency phone coverage, which involved an extra phone and an extra phone line. Total cost $25/month. We challenged this saying that we didnt need another phone nor did we need another line. Store manager explains that this is part of the plan and we will be charged, even if we dont take the phone.
We pay up and leave. I then call the customer help line and ask about this coverage. They havent heard about this. On Monday, I call the companys fraud office and they havent heard of this BUT they are very interested in hearing more, so I provide employee names and store address.
Tuesday, I go into the store and say I want to return the phone and cancel the line. The store manager is adamant that it is required and that I would have to change to a more expensive plan. I then say, Thats strange. I was talking to your fraud department yesterday and they were completely unaware of this but I was able to fill them in on it. I then looked down slightly, looked up again and say, Oh good. I did get your name right.
Im not 100% sure but I think I smelled just a hint of urine. Needless to say, I got everything refunded and the store is now under investigation to see how many other people they scammed.
10. A gift for the haters.
A few years ago, I traveled throughout Europe with my parents. We spent about a week in Bulgaria. In addition to the scam artists, Bulgaria is notorious for its pickpockets. Thankfully, my wallet was a cheap fabric wallet with less than $20 USD worth of stuff in it.
So, on the last day I was there, I decided to play a little prank on the pickpockets and thieves. I went down to the computer station in the hotel lobby and used the printer to print a few hundred LEV (Bulgarian currency). I bought a cheaper wallet at a corner store, packed the fake currency into it, and in the ID slot I put a slip of paper with *ahem* the male anatomy drawn on it.
I wore the loosest pants I had, and placed the wallet in my back pocket. And, at night, went into the most crowded area nearby that I could find. I spent a few hours wandering around, and when I returned to my hotel, the wallet was missing.
I think the pickpocket got my message.
Social thumb credit: Shutterstock.com | Ronald Summers
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