Today I got a call from my dad. That part’s not so unusual. He calls now and then if he thinks of something to tell me. But he mentioned that my mother just got a text on her phone saying a family member had been hurt in an accident, and she should call that number. He smelled scam, but just wanted to touch base to make sure.
Imagine how many people are going to fall for that. We teach kids to avoid falling for this when a stranger says it to them, but I bet all kinds of folks are going to panic. You can’t help panicking at the idea someone you love has gotten hurt, especially if you’re a parent. Older folks are going to fall for this by the truckload.
This is why I’m totally serious when I say I want to legalize hunting spammers. Phone scammers are on that list too. There’s no excuse for this. There should be no quarter. The simple truth is that most fraudsters get away with what they do for a very long time and many are never caught at all. In today’s international climate, it’s easy to scam someone from halfway around the world where the scammer is totally untouchable. It’s bad enough to get defrauded when you seek someone out, but when they reach you via mass e-mail or push calling, they’re doing this as a massive operation.
Hence the need for legally sanctioned bounties. Carrying out this kind of garbage ought to be the equivalent of playing Russian roulette. But wait, some will say, isn’t fear of death for a nonviolent crime pretty harsh?
Yes. Yes it is.
For a short time today, my mother was concerned that there was a possibility the text message she got might be true. It’s a possibility no one wants to ignore outright, which is what makes the scam so effective. So in at least part of her mind, she had to run through scenarios of me or my sister, or my wife or brother-in-law, getting badly hurt in a car accident or worse. Or if not one of us, maybe her sister or one of her nieces or nephews. She couldn’t just brush aside the idea that someone might have been really hurt. You can’t put away thoughts like that very easily; the part of your brain that worries about the people you care about takes a long time to put back to sleep after it wakes up in a panic.
Ask me again if I think the scumbags responsible for that text should die.