I got scammed yesterday. And I’m miserable about it.
Wasn’t I the first to spot a scam when someone called my husband a few years back, claiming to be our youngest grandchild stuck in a Florida jail after a driving accident?
“Did he call you Grandpa?,” I demanded and my husband nodded. I went on: ”But he never calls you that. He calls you Gummiss.” (Ridiculous I know, but somehow it started with the first grand).
My kindhearted husband kept worrying about this mythical eighteen-year-old who said he had left his first week at a California college and flown to Florida to be part of a friend’s wedding.
Charlie wanted to send the money and told me he was instructed not to contact the boy’s father who lives across our courtyard, but I dashed right to my son’s door and confirmed the call was a scam.
However, that was then, and this is now.
Two days ago, I got an email from a friend who is kindhearted and generous, saying a childhood friend needed someone to wire her money right away and my friend would pay me back on the weekend.
I wondered why she’d have the money in three days, if she didn’t have now. However, trusting in her charitable ways, I asked my daughter-in-law to help me use Zelle, a banking system that makes it really easy to send money anywhere. She asked me if I was sure this was a legitimate request and I said, “Absolutely. I trust this friend entirely.”
Here I must confess that I sent money not only once, but twice.
Yes, I know, the height of stupidity.
But my email “friend” said there were reasons why the family needed more money after someone got COVID-19 and there were hospital bills, and it’s the Christmas season and I didn’t want to be Scrooge.
The third “ask” however, was not the magic charm.
My “friend” said she’d pay me back when she got back to town on Monday. Back to town? Red light there. She’s in my age bracket and none of us are going anywhere. A trip to the market is a big deal.
Out of town? No way.
I called the friend who had supposedly sent me the email, but there was no answer. I was jittering around the house worrying when another friend called to say she’d been asked to send money as well.
Right then all the bells and sirens went off.
This friend doesn’t know the person who supposedly sent the email as well as I do. “Don’t do anything until you hear from me,” I advised.
I called and finally reached the woman whom I thought had asked me to help. She said her enormous email list had been hacked and people from Maine to Montana were being implored to help this lying family. The word “scam” reverberated in my head like a tolling bell.
“You big dope,” I said out loud. "You should have known she’d never start a message with Seasons Greetings,” an imprecise term I detest.
Well done's done. The money’s gone. Hope the scammers enjoy it.
The only good news is it didn’t bankrupt me, but I sure would rather that money had gone to help Heifer or a food bank or PBS.
And I’m putting my mistake out here in print for all to see in the hopes that you’ll be wiser than I was if somebody asks you for money.