We’ll spare you the military references but there’s a popular series out depicting a small squad action against a larger, entrenched force where the attackers use surprise to their advantage.
“Look,” the squad leader shouts over the crescendo of a firefight. “We must be doing something right, they’re firing on each other…”
That resonated this week as we began taking calls from frustrated 24/680-ites subjected to unceasing waves of robocall scams generated by charlatans from – usually – abroad. We spoke with half a dozen locals who took calls from other angry locals who proceeded to dress them down for calling them with an obvious scam – but who didn’t realize that the scammers are succeeding in getting us angry at each other by spoofing legitimate phone numbers.
“I realized something was up when I got three calls from righteously angry dudes in three days,” one neighbor reported. “All guys, all really *issed off at me for threatening to shut off their power. I tried to explain that someone was obviously scamming them and using my phone number to do it – but they didn’t want to listen…”
Which leads us to the problem. People aren’t listening. We’ve been writing about these phone scams, some of them just warmed-up versions of old confidence schemes – for years now and people continue to fall victim to them. Sometimes, the victims send off large sums of money to get a relative out of jail in a foreign country, to lift a fraudulent arrest warrant or to prevent their power from being shut off – which, of course, was not about to happen.
Then the recrimination sets in, and the need to get some payback, so the angry calls go out to the only tangible thing the scammer leaves them with – a bogus phone number – and they lay into some poor person who has no idea what they’re talking about. And that’s when we thought about that movie scene “… they got us firing at each other” and thought about how insidious these cons really are.
Preying on people, sowing fear and anxiety… all while taking $30 billion from Americans each year.
And, judging from what we’re hearing, these scams show no sign of abating anytime soon. Think about it the next time you pick up the phone to give someone a piece of your mind.