In last month’s column (January 2020), I wrote about housing concerns. At the end I said this month I would share innovative housing ideas. However, that information will need to wait until next month.
Several wise mentors convinced me of how important it is to share with you my experience in January, and how I was one of the lucky ones.
We believe this information is important enough for me to share my embarrassing vulnerability. In January I was scammed.
Here is how it happened: On a Saturday I received a Facebook request from a friend here in Sequim to join her via Facebook Messenger. I will call her Dawn. Since she is a good friend I accepted.
During our Messenger conversation she told me about receiving some government grant money for retirees, and my name was on the list for being eligible. We chatted some more then Dawn gave me the link to contact the person who helped her, Linda. Dawn said to contact Linda right then as she was not busy, trusting Dawn I did so.
Linda assured me I qualified for the grant money and on Monday I paid her the FedEx fees to deliver my grant money, the total amount required was the amount of my February living expenses.
As a side note, I did my own research, and FedEx does charge more for higher value deliveries, though I did not find an actual chart showing their fee scale.
On Tuesday, Linda informed me FedEx needed an additional $700. (No, she did not get the additional $700, and thankfully I am not out millions of dollars.)
During this process Dawn kept in touch with me via Messenger. She was truly excited for me. On Tuesday she said she was just getting out of the hospital. That freaked me out. So I called her.
Dawn had not been in the hospital – and in fact her Facebook account had been hacked. Apparently Linda’s Facebook account had also been hacked.
Here are three of the things I learned. Scamming is a gigantic international business. There are ‘call centers’ in countries such as India and Russia where 700 or more employees sit in front of computers with phones and spend their entire work shift scamming.
Another thing is retirement communities, such as Sequim, are higher target areas because we are less computer savvy, and easier to scam. If we receive a communication that is out of the normal, even from a personal friend, we should ask personal questions, which only we would know the answer to. One example would be, “Dawn, remind me, how old is Donny?” I learned many more things in talking with wise mentors, too many to share in this brief column.
Here is what I did. I filed a complaint with the local sheriff’s office. I printed out all of the Messenger communications between Dawn, Linda and myself. I inserted my personal comments into those communications.
Then I mailed copies, with cover letters, to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission, and to FedEx. My reason for including FedEx is because in a way this company is also a victim.
By the end of the year I will have a booklet written on this subject, and next month, March 2020, I will write about innovative housing options.
In the meantime, stop by Shipley Center and ask for a free copy of their January 2020 newsletter which talks about scams.
Please email and share your own scam story at email@example.com.
Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, Crystal enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family.