Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Scamming Pays Off

A few weeks ago a guy called the Tassanoxie Sentinel to whine to one of the reporters that he done wired about $15,000 to some scam artist. This guy actually believed someone from the IRS would just up and call and tell him he owed a pot of money and that he better wire it to this address pronto.

Well, this guy wired the money and being he was easy pickings, the scam artist called again for more money. Fortunately, a friend warned the guy he better check with the IRS before he sent more money.

Now he was calling the paper, wanting them to warn other folks about the scam.

First of all, who in their right mind would wire money to the IRS without first calling them to check it out? Or maybe driving about 30 miles to the local IRS office and talking with someone in person? How many times do our city, state, and federal government officials have to tell folks they will not be contacted by phone and asked to wire money anywhere?

A few months ago, I blogged about how easy it was to get a fake diploma online. Being a naturally curious person and a reporter by trade for years, this guy’s situation got me to researching the whole scam situation. The FBI tries to stay on top of this and their website is plum full information on frauds like telemarketing, identity theft, romance fraud, Ponzi schemes, and Internet scams. They even have a Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3–you can thank the federal acronym office for that one!) for gathering data on Internet crime and catching the bad guys who do it.

The job of all these FBI crime fighting units is to reduce the amount of economic loss folks experience. Although if we continue to be dumb enough to just send money to people who call or email us, I think it’s a losing proposition for the FBI.

And we’re talking millions, probably billions of dollars, worldwide each year. In 2014, over 260,000 folks complained to the IC3 with a total of $800 million lost. And here’s the best part of the statistics: only an estimated 15% of the nation’s fraud victims report their crimes.

It was interesting to see which age groups and sexes fell for the different types of scams. More men over 30 went the auto fraud route, trying to buy a car for way below market value. But more women 30 and older fell for the emails impersonating an important government official. (Like the director of the FBI would email me!) These women ended up losing about $1,450.00 a complaint. Men and women over the age of 50 went for the online rental or sale of real estate.

The confidence or romance scam affected four times as many women as men. Women over the age of 40 got burned by the online scam of scammers pretending to be military members. These guys use sob stories to pry money from their victims, whose softhearted response lost them over $71 million in 2014.

The money lost everyday to various scam artists boggles the mind, but also explains those relentless phone calls and emails. Scamming is a huge money maker. 

I reckon those of us who haven’t yet fallen for a scam shouldn’t be too hard on those who have. There may be a convincing scammer in our future.

Fact is, the reasons people fall for scams are as varied as the scams. Loneliness, mental deficiency, desire to make a quick buck, altruism–you get the idea. And becoming a victim is easier than you think whatever the reason. What with the Internet, social media, cell phones, and apps for everything scamming gets easier by the minute.

So when that fake IRS agent calls, don‘t panic and start sending money. Do somer homework. Find out who they are and make an informed decision before sharing your bank account.

It might be as easy as hanging up the phone or trashing the email.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Tippy Toe High Heels A Podiatrist’s Delight

I’m gonna to start with a disclaimer right off the bat–my feet have never worn a shoe that had a heel over 2” high. I was lucky enough to marry a man about my height and strutting around 4-6” taller than him seemed downright rude. Plus, I’m afraid of heights. Being that far off the ground gives me vertigo.

I started working as a newspaper reporter while in college and running hither, thither, and yon getting interviews is not something to be done in high high heels. Most of my reporter days were at the Tassanoxie Sentinel and those days were too dang long and too dang busy to spend them teetering around in high high heels.

Now that I’ve established I’m not an expert in wearing high high heels, I’m gonna go right ahead and have an opinion about them. Sure, it’s based on observation, not experience, but who hasn’t watched a woman teeter past in a pair of high high heels? I’m sure all the men are thinking, whoa, what a hottie! while I’m thinking, is she nuts?

Moment of truth, here. I don’t really see that many women in skyscraper heels in my neck of the woods because Tassanoxie isn’t exactly the fashion hub of the USA. No, I’m much more likely to see women in sweatpants and running shoes than women in swirly short skirts and high high heels. 

But I do see them sometimes. There are those who live here who like to keep up with the latest fashions.

Silly as those fashions may be.

High high heels are not only silly, they’re a downright health hazard. First of all, there’s the whole issue of landing from a great height when you fall. Then there’s the broken ankles, the nerve damage, the inflammation and swelling, and fact that your calf muscles may permanently contract so your leg plum forgets how to stretch out straight.

Many of us are already hardwired by genetics to develop weird foot problems as we age. Why ensure even more foot, knee, and hip problems by wearing high high heels? I know, I know. When you’re young and foolish the last thing on your mind is worrying that your shoes are encouraging osteoarthritis to develop in your knee or toe joints. Looking sexy is much more important.

There are folks who are happy to see women teeter around in high high heels. The folks that design them. The folks that make them. And of course, all the podiatrists are in seventh heaven. If you’ve never heard of that speciality, podiatrists are foot doctors. With all these women wearing ridiculously high heels, they must see a longterm gold mine.

I flat cannot figure out the allure of these shoes? Think about it. You can’t run away from an attacker if you’re wearing them. You can hardly walk up and down stairs without problems. One tiny miscalculation and you’ve fallen from a great height onto your butt and probably broke something. And for some reason there are women who think carrying a newborn infant while in these shoes is wise.

Give me a good pair of running shoes anytime. 

One last thought. I can guarantee you the guy who designed the shoes will never ever wear them, not even on the walk to the bank to cash in all the money he’s made off them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

5 Random Thoughts for the New Year

Once again, it’s the beginning of a new year, a cold beginning here in Tassanoxie after quite a wet ending. Which leads me to my first random thought in a blog of random thoughts that have hit me as I mosey through life.   

What about Water Pipelines?
With all the rain the southeastern USA has been getting during the past few years and the extensive drought suffered in the western states, I’ve been thinking that this oil pipeline idea should be shelved for a pipeline that moves water from the wet side to the dry side of the continent. Truth is, you can’t drink oil and you can’t grow anything in oil. Face it, humans lived millions of years without oil, but without water, our bodies dry out, shut down, and die.

Seems to me it’s about time we put on our thinking caps and figured out a way to move water.

Wealth Management Advisor
I haven’t the faintest idea how long this job description has been around but it finally caught my eye. I like the way it assumes a regular ole bank customer like me has wealth that needs managing. Then again, I also keep wondering if a person who is really good at managing wealth would need a job in the first place. Wouldn’t she be rich enough not to work?

Kids Dressing for Outdoors
I’m not sure if this is endemic to the South or if today’s youngsters have no idea how to dress for cold weather. I realize Tassanoxie winters can be mild with sunshine and  sometimes hit 75ยบ F in December which makes it hard to know when to drag out the heavier clothes. But the South does get cold weather.

Just last Thanksgiving I was in North Carolina in a city located a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean. A cold front came through one night and the next morning there was a 12° F windchill factor. Here I am, bundled up like Charlie Brown in a Christmas special taking Jocko for his morning walk. And yes, Jocko had on his cute little doggie coat. 
Sure enough, we walk past a a teenager wearing shorts and a tee shirt waiting for the bus. 

It must have something to do with the “cool” factor and nothing to do with common sense.

Sudden Stops
The other day I was following a pick up truck owned by one of the local pest control companies. There was a big sign on the back that said: Sudden Stops Do Not Follow Closely

Hmmmm. Why would a pest control truck have to make sudden stops? So the driver can jump out and kill large cockroaches? Douse fire ant hills? Chase runaway rats?

Just wondering…

TV Prescription Drug Ads
I am not a fan of televised ads for prescription drugs because they show a smiling person who is taking the drug while a voice softly explains how many ways you can die while taking said drug. I think the Federal Communications Commission should tell the drug companies not only to list all the possible side effects of their drugs, but also show these side effects.

How many people would ask their doctor for the the drug if they saw footage of the guy who took the drug and ended up on dialysis? Or the woman whose hair fell out? Or the guy who had to go to the emergency room because something lasted longer than 4 hours?

Since I did five random thoughts and that’s what I named this blog, I’m done for now.