And those stories are often filed in the 'And now...' section, with the sneering contempt of the editor practically wafting off the page. 'Ah', you can imagine them thinking, 'the lower classes are so dim!'
So, when they are the ones duped, it's time to break out that popcorn!
We feel so stupid: how could my wife and I have been conned out of more than £7,000 by one phone conversation? The answer is that the scam was brilliant in design and execution.Well, of course it must have been! It was you, after all,. And you wouldn't fall for anything other than a scam conceived and executed by a Moriarty, a Napoleon of crime, a Hannibal Lecter of scamsters. A perfect con with no flaws.
So...how'd it go down?
It began with a phone call after dinner on a Friday night. My wife answered the phone and the caller announced herself as ‘DCI Jane Seymour of the Serious Fraud Office’.The usual story - your card's been used in a scam. So...call the officer back to verify she's who she says she is? Our hero is prepared! Good lad:
Was DCI Seymour who she said she was? How could we know she was really working for the Serious Fraud Office? Her ANSWER turned us from cautious sceptics into credulous fools. ‘Call 999 and check me out,’ she urged.Whoa, Nellie! Dial 999? The emergency number? The ones the police keep haranguing us should only be used in an emergency?
So we did. I put the phone down, picked it up again and dialled 999. The dialling tone was normal, the phone rang and the response was as prompt and efficient as a law-abiding citizen could wish for.*sigh* Scammers always are. They know you catch more flies with honey than vinegar...
‘We can have your cards blocked immediately,’ said DCI Seymour to reassure us. ‘New cards can be delivered to your house in three working days, or five for the foreign cards. But first we’ll need your PIN numbers.’ That should, of course, have rung alarm bells.Well, duh!
How many times have we all been told, ‘Never, never give your PIN number to anyone. Your bank will never ask for it’?Well, quite!!
We hesitated — and this is where DCI Seymour scored again. ‘Don’t tell me the codes,’ she said. ‘Tap them into the phone and they will be sent straight to our technical team.’Because it's OK to give the codes to them. Riiiight.
DCI Seymour kept reassuring us that all would be well. ‘Are you OK? Do you have enough money for the weekend? We can get you emergency funds of £300 delivered to you by 3pm tomorrow. We’ll debit it from your HSBC account and I’ll call you again tomorrow at noon.’Because that's the sort of service you can expect from the police, right? Or rather, it's the sort of service that people like the author fondly think the police should offer.
And when she said she would send a courier round to pick up our compromised cards, it seemed so reasonable./doublefacepalm
The conclusion to this sorry tale? Well, as you can guess, the penny finally dropped. But it took a while.
The police — the real police — have been sympathetic and tell us that the con is targeted at the well-to-do and the elderly who may not be as techno-savvy as younger account holders.Apart from the 'not hanging up their end', there's nothing 'techno-savvy' needed here. Most of it's good, old fashioned suspicion. And also a bit of worldly experience - is what they are saying plausible?
And I'm afraid the answer was a big 'No!'. Unless, of course, you inhabit the quaint liberal world where everything is just supposed to work that way. The police will liaise with your bank? Why, yes. Of course they will! That's just how it works, isn't it?
So let's hope that the next time an idiot swaps his hard-earned for a laptop that turns out to be a bag of water bottles, the newspaper won't sneer.
But of course, they probably will.