Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Being scammed


I was scammed today, by what was apparently a well-known group. They were certainly very smooth and professional. I never thought I would be taken in like that. I feel so stupid and upset. After 'grooming' me for an hour on the phone, they ended up with access to a lot of stuff on my computer. Of course everything is changed, banks notified etc now. I am writing this on my laptop, we are going to completely wipe my PC. I don't care if I lose a few unsaved photos or a few days writing. I'll feel safer.

When I found information about this particular scam later on a government website, it talked about how they use a mixture of friendliness and bullying and that was so true. I started off very cautious and they were calm and reassuring (I talked to a couple of different people) then later when I got suspicious somehow they were able to bully me into continuing. Oh I feel like an idiot.

I was vulnerable to this particular scam because I'd been having a lot of internet troubles for the past few days, with no internet access for hours at a time, so when someone from the internet provider called to help me fix it, it seemed quite reasonable. They didn't really know I was having problems, they just call people at random on the chance that quite often they will get someone who is.

It ended like this: I was trying to make a small payment to them, using my MasterCard online, but it apparently wasn't going through. So he got me to log into my bank account to see if the payment had been made. (Yes, stupid me.) He started flipping through screens from his end! He had access to my account. I burst into tears and he shouted at me, telling me he wasn't doing anything. He was really aggressive, how dare I accuse him. I was about to pull the plug, when he apparently put $1500 into my account. What the? (Turned out he had just transferred it from another of my accounts, which I didn't realise at the time.) It was weird enough to make me pause for a moment. I asked for an explanation and I didn't get one that made sense, but what he wanted me to do was go to an ATM and withdraw $1200 of this and put into his nominated account and I could keep the other $300. What what what?? I turned off the computer and pulled all the plugs on the modem etc, and even the landline phone, then called my husband, the bank, and the police. My husband came home for a while and also called his brother, who is a bit of a computer expert, for advice. I was shaking for an hour.

As far as I know I am have not lost any money, but they have quite a few of my personal details which is scary for identity theft.

One thing that almost gives me half a smile is when he asked me when I needed to get back to work and I said I didn't work, I was a housewife. Looking back, I can see his 'oh' was of disappointment!

Really though, I am very very unsettled and distressed. My stomach is all churned up and I feel sick still, many hours later.

Just to put the crown on my afternoon, the kids were still not home half an hour after school finished. They haven't been walking home without me for long, only a couple of weeks, and it is only two blocks away. There is no reason for it to take them half an hour. I got really scared and went out to search for them. I found them dawdling home over the school oval, apparently with no idea they had been playing with friends so long.

One ray of light in the gloom, I didn't turn to food. What I really wanted to do all afternoon was write it all out on my blog! Which I have finally got access to do. Writing it out helps, even though you all know now how stupid and gullible I am.

I just realised that yesterday the section I wrote for my novel (and didn't save to a USB, so will now be lost) was an exploration of how my heroine is extremely trusting and some people saw that as a weakness but others didn't. I suddenly see it as more of a fault than when I wrote it yesterday!


  1. You're not stupid or gullible. You're trusting. I use this every time someone at work calls me gullible after trying to pull some elaborate shenanigan over me. Their efforts usually work and once again I've provided them some comic relief in their day...But I remind them, it isn't that I'm gullible, it's that I live my life expecting the same level of honesty and trustworthiness from others, as I expect from me. Me falling for their foolishness is less a reflection of me and more a reflection of their maturity level and misaligned sense of humor.
    How scary, Natalie!!! I'm so glad you bailed when you did. It's sad to think about how many feel pressured into doing exactly what these scum order them to do. I do not know how these scammers sleep at night. They're sick people.
    I love your attitude and perspective. Not turning to food was a major victory--instead, you were focused on something you're passionate about--your writing. Also, please don't feel like you've done anything wrong, because you haven't. This situation and its aftermath isn't your fault...not one tiny bit.
    I'm glad your money is safe. Great call in immediately notifying the bank and everyone else. How wonderful would it be for your experience to lead to an arrest of these incorrigible people?
    I can't wait to read your novel someday! My best to you and yours, Natalie--Sean

  2. Thanks Sean! It would be so hard going through life expecting the worst from everyone, I don't think I want to live that way.