0719 PV Headshot Jean Shriver.JPG

I received one of those letters the other day. You know the type: the old-school kind, sent in an envelope with a foreign stamp.

The letter informed me somebody with my last name had died in Portugal and left millions of bucks which I could claim if I….etc, etc. etc. You know the drill.

Just reading that oily and deceptive come-on brought back uncomfortable memories. I once almost fell for a persuasive foreign voice telling me I needed to pay to protect my computer. Only when I realized they were pushing an expensive monthly bill for an inexpensive laptop, did I hang up. Another time my credit card company saved me from falling for a different and more ingenious phone scam.

Like many older couples, my husband and I have been targeted by the grandparent scam.

That’s the call that purports to be from your beloved grandchild who claims to be in jail and desperately waiting for you to bail him or her out. My soft-hearted husband was getting ready to pay big bucks, when I pointed out the call came from a boy who addressed him as ”Grandpa” when our grands have always called him “Gummiss.”

It’s disturbing to realize an army of hungry grifters are out there in the ether spending their nights and days scheming how to part you from your money.

Up until now I have enjoyed not being suspicious of strangers, and I dislike having to assume a new and wary stance on just about everything. My inclination is to trust people, but that seems to get more dangerous by the day.

Because I live in a nice area, and have family nearby, I am not as vulnerable as some older people. But the next scam is always lurking at the other end of the phone line or ready to pop up in a big red box on my computer.

The other day I got a robocall from someone speaking Chinese. Needless to say, I was in no danger of doing what that caller asked.

Even more upsetting than these personal attacks, is reading about armies of scammers ready and eager to do mischief to our voting results. This is cheating on a larger scale, and, if it is successful, is a threat to the bedrock of our democracy. It definitely undermines my sense of national security. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I sometimes feel that not only am I not in Kansas any more, I’m not even in the same United States I’ve known all my life.

As an antidote to this unwelcome paranoia, there are examples of goodness around. Mary Jo Hazard writes weekly in this newspaper about Peninsula residents who spend hours and hours of their time volunteering for a variety of good causes.

I’ve also enjoyed accounts on my Nextdoor website of neighbors helping neighbors. For instance, one woman wrote that two strangers carried her ailing sixty pound dog to her car after the dog collapsed in a park.

Clearly, there are a ton of good people living near me. So I guess all is not lost. I won’t despair, but I doubt I’ll be as trusting as I used to be.

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