Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘scams

Swimming Against the Tide . . .

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. . . or running in sand is wearying at the best of

But it gets painful when Kismet, the stars, fate and its fickle finger, aura, vibes, luck, serendipity, the crumbling cookie, circumstance, fortune, karma and the gods line up against you.

They all turned on us recently when hackers smacked everybody in my email address book with a request for $2,000 to bail me out of a jam in the Philippines. It happened the morning we motored over the mountains into the desert enroute to visit the grandkids. Bev checked her phone messages during our gas stop in Yuma and had a text message from son Michael informing us of the breach. On arrival in Phoenix, I immediately changed my email password but was unable to notify everybody of the scam because I couldn’t access my address book from our kids’ computer.

Upon returning home Monday afternoon, I learned I no longer had an address book. There were about a dozen addresses left, including my wife’s. She did not receive the fraudulent Philippines plea. So we surmised that the address for each person contacted was chewed up and spat into cyberspace.

I’m rebuilding my address list and copying it onto a thumb drive as redundancy dictates.

At the same time, the rotted floor of our outdoor wooden paint-and-gardening-stuff storage cabinet beside the garage finally gave way and tumbled against a wooden fence dividing our yard from our neighbor’s. We trundled off to Home Depot to pick up a plastic replacement that required assembly.

While I was trying to catch-up on some writing chores, our printer pooped out so it was it was off to Staples. We found the latest version of our four-in-one that just died. The rest of the day was eaten up getting it installed and running on all three desktops and then catching up our print chores.

The next day was devoted to putting together the plastic storage shed like a big Lego puzzle and tucking it tightly against a concrete-block wall at the rear of the property between the garage and lot-line fence.

Since mishaps and miracles seem to run in threes, it appeared we had traversed the hump.

Until Saturday morning. The sewer backed up. Despite the threat and trauma, we were fortunate on a few counts. One, only the toilet and drain in my shower at the rear of the house was backing up. Two, the back-up was mainly water from the washer and Bev’s shower – she was taking a shower while doing the laundry. Three, I happened to be in the bathroom in time to see the water pouring over the shower-floor ledge so I hollered at Bev to stop her shower and turn off the washer. We grabbed all the towels within reach to soak up the water at my bathroom door so it wouldn’t cascade out onto the carpet in our back bedroom, which would have magnified a calamity into a catastrophe requiring knocking heads with insurance adjusters.

I pounded the plunger on the shower drain for five or 10 minutes. Nothing happened. So we called our friendly drain service. Less than five minutes later, we heard a series of loud pops and gurgles as the water plopped down the drain. When the drain cleaners arrived, he did a quick survey and we all agreed where the problem was. He and his helper screwed out the driveway plug on the line draining into the city sewer line in the alley and screwed out the plug in the side of the house that accesses the shower line. Extracting the plugs took some sweat and swearing because both had been wrenched tightly into place since we remodeled the house in 1987. Anyhow, the drain was cleaned and cleared and has been working magnificently.

After writing out the check to the plumbers, I figured that was it.

Until I got back to putting stuff back into the storage shed and reinforcing the concrete-block wall supporting it. The six-foot shed was about a foot taller than the existing wall so I gathered up a half-dozen spare concrete blocks hanging around the yard under potted plants and things like that to shove them atop the fence to hide the shed. It was during one of these shoves that I tweaked me back. It was just a tick at the time but that was Saturday. On Monday, I couldn’t even climb into my car. If I had got in, I would never have got out unless someone called 911 and they came with the Jaws of Life.

Just recounting all this is painful but, at the same time, it’s a bit cathartic.




Written by Cecil Scaglione

July 22, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Con Artists As Dangerous as Mugger with a Gun

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By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

Con artists feed on the greedy and the careless. And also on the polite. Folks continue to give out numbers for their bank accounts, credit cards, and Social Security just because a caller has requested them.
The unseen solicitor poses as a fraud investigator looking into charges have been made against your credit card and offers to repair your account. He or she will ask to verify your numbers and address and other such information.

Ask for a phone number so you can call them back. Then hang up, whether they give you a number or not. Don’t be polite. They’re crooks trying to steal your money. Call the local Better Business Bureau and tell them about the call.

If you’re concerned about your credit-card account,  call the phone number on the back of the card to discuss the
matter with a company representative.

The ubiquitous cell phone with a camera has become a weapon these thieves are using more and more. They use telephone camera to take photos of credit cards. That gives them your name,account number and expiration date — enough to run out and clean out your account. So don’t leave your card laying on a counter at the store or table at a restaurant.

Never let the card out of your sight. Crooked employees can swipe your card through a scanner to
copy the magnetic strip.

The expanding use of the Internet has widened the horizon for these crooks exponentially. Never
send any information over the ‘Net, unless you’ve initiated the contact with a reputable mail-order house you’ve dealt with regularly, such as Land’s End, or if you’re ordering something from an e-mail house, such as e-Bay or Amazon.

Don’t be fooled by an Internet website that looks official. Scammers can set up an official looking page and have your responses diverted to their own e-mailbox and merrily milk your funds. The Web also is a great marketplace for crooks selling bogus products described as healthful supplements and medical devices.

The old standby scams are still around, like the lottery and Nigerian schemes. The first involves a contact that says you’ve won money in a lottery and all you have to do to get your money is wire funds to cover tariffs and attorney fees because the money is originating from abroad. One Southern California resident was bilked out of more than $250,000 by these schemers not too long ago. The Nigerian plotters have a variety of stories that are all designed to break your bank. there for a bit and they’ll give you a handsome fee.

Then there’s this tried-and-true con. You receive a gaudy piece of mail or an “invitation” that says you’ve won a rather hefty gift or a tempting vacation trip, for example. All you have to do is send a few hundred dollars to expedite the paper work.
Chuck it in the paper shredder. If you don’t have one, get one. They’re inexpensive and can be used to shred all paper that carries sensitive and financial information: statements from your bank, credit-card companies, brokerage firm, and mortgage company.

Watch out for gift checks you receive in the mail. A neighbor cashed in small such check — it was for less than $10 — from a company she had dealt with and learned in her next statement that, by cashing the check, she signed on to pay a monthly fee for a travel service the company provided. She didn’t need any such service since she works for an airline but the firm said by cashing the check, she was automatically signed on, and that was that.
Remember the gilded rule: if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

May 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Posted in Finance

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