Con artist tried to strike

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

I had intended to use a different subject this week, but I had an experience last week that needs to be used as a subject. After sharing my experience with a loyal reader, he suggested that needed to be the subject this week.

Last week, we received a call asking to talk to the owner of the phone. The co-owner, instead of screening the call as a receptionist should do, referred the call to me with a big smile. This is one of the games we sometimes play. The person on the other end was difficult to understand, as if she is not an American. I finally asked her where she was and she said New York -- she may have been, or she may have been somewhere else in the world.

One of the games I sometimes play is to string a caller along and I was playing that game. All of the time, I was having difficulty in understanding her and what she was trying to say.

She was trying to tell me that, with their program, I would not have to pay premiums on my health insurance anymore; their program would take care of my health costs. Now that did not sound right. The old saying is, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is not true.

Somewhere in my conversation, I asked, why are you calling this number, we are on the no call list. Of course it came in on the caller ID as an unknown caller and unknown number. Her reply was that the federal government supports what they are doing.

The temptation was to ask her to speak English. It was difficult to know what she was trying to say. Finally, I thought she was selling a discount card of some kind for health care. Such cards do exist, but it is only a discount. For some people without insurance, such cards might be beneficial. Still, she was trying to tell me there were no deductibles and as I understood her, no payments for health care, out of my pocket. Now, that sounded good, I could sign up and not have to pay insurance premiums nor any co-pays. Wow. What a deal!

Several times I told her I am from Missouri. That did not mean anything to her. I had to explain to her that this is a Show-Me state. You have to show me before I will believe it. All during this time, she kept saying that I would not have to pay premiums or would ask me if I wanted to not have to pay premiums.

She was not too happy with me for not accepting her proposal, because it is good, she said. Some time during the conversation, I asked what is this going to cost me. I do not know the exact figure, but the figure was more than $300 and it was going to be only one time. Still, it sounded too good to be true.

Many times when I receive a call of this type, I ask for information to be sent in writing. Being on the no-call list has helped in not getting the calls like we did previously. They continue to call on the business phone at the office. By getting it in writing, I can just throw it away. She said that she could send me the information, and it would not be any cost at the present time.

The next thing this difficult-to-understand woman said is that she needed to get some verification. That would not be any problem, I thought, giving her my address or some information like that.

With the next thing she mentioned, I understood her very well. She had the bold guts to ask me for numbers off of my check. Now that is when I became irate. She was told in some strong terms that she was not going to get that information from me and I hung up on her. That is what should have been done at the beginning, as many people, wisely, make a practice of doing.

After it was over, I wished that I had made up some figures to give her, but at the time, I realized that it was a scam and really was not true, even if she tried to make it sound good. It really was a scam call.

It is easy to understand that they prey upon senior citizens and with the difficulty many have of paying their premiums, a possible alternative might sound good to them. Often they are already confused and a vulture of this type comes in for the picking.

On the front page the next day of the Nevada Daily Mail was an article, "Officials warn residents to beware of scams." According to the article, I was not the only one to receive a call of this type last week.

As has been mentioned several times by law enforcement people and many others, never give out any information to someone contacting you, especially giving out your checking account numbers and your Social Security numbers. I can imagine they wanted to clean out my bank account.

It is hard to believe that this world has that type of persons in it, but it does exist. Watch out for scammers, who have many ways of scamming people -- especially older people.

The experience last week was with a con artist that was trying to strike. That was a little nerve-wracking.