Here a Scam, There a Scam

Do you think the US prison system will allow me to continue posting on WordPress while I’m in the slammer? I sure hope so. My posting frequency is spotty enough without having to go on hiatus while I do my time. That’s right folks. I’m going to jail. The pokey. The hoosegow. I knew it was just a matter of time until the long arm of the law caught up with me.

Her is the voice message I received today, which I’ve transcribed verbatim:

“This is the IRS. We have just received a notification regarding your tax filings from the headquarters which will get expired in next 24 working hours. And once it get expired after that you will be taken under custody by the local cops as there are 4 serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment. We would request you to get back to us so that we can discuss about this case before taking any legal action against you. The number to reach us is XXX-XXX-XXXX.”

Oh good! I could use a change of scenery. I’ve always thought a prison sentence would be a good opportunity to catch up on my reading. Or work out enough to finally get those six-pack abs.

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Don’t worry; I’m joking. I don’t look good in orange. And if I’m going down, I’ll make sure it’s for something that makes for a better story than tax evasion.

I worked as an accountant for 30 years, the last 13 at a CPA’s office. I know that the IRS never, ever, ever, calls or emails about your tax filings. You will get a letter via snail mail. They will only call or email if you have a current inquiry open with them. If that’s the case, you will know the IRS agent in charge of your case.

As scams go, this call was a sloppy example. The language alone gives it away. “Taken under custody by the local cops…?” Whoever wrote this script should have watched a few more episodes of Law and Order. But not every attempt is so lame. While working at the CPA firm, we would get calls from distraught clients all the time. Scammers have gotten very good at sounding legit. Emails, in particular, get noticed. They often include realistic logos and enough personal information to get your attention.

Whenever I get these calls, my first reaction is to laugh.

My second reaction is anger and sadness because I know there are people out there who will take the bait. Vulnerable people who are afraid of the authorities – especially the IRS. Even to many law-abiding citizens, the IRS is the big bad wolf. They are the monster under the bed and the boogie man, all rolled into one, coming to take your hard-earned savings.

Wherever there is a fear, there is a scammer ready to capitalize on it.

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A few years before he died, my Dad got a call from a scammer posing as my nephew. He said he was in Florida for a bachelor party, got in a fight and was in jail. His friends had pooled their money to get another friend out but had left him high and dry. He begged my Dad not tell my brother (his own Dad.) He even explained his altered voice by claiming he had a broken nose and busted lip from the fight.

He had just enough personal data to make his story sound realistic. He obviously didn’t realize he’d contacted one of the world’s biggest skeptics. My Dad may have been old, but he was not stupid. He noted inconsistencies in the story and uncharacteristic behavior of his grandson but listened patiently. When asked if he would send money, my Dad said “Well of course! I’d love to help you out. Just tell me one thing. What was the place that your Dad and I took you and your brother camping when you turned 13.”

Click.

Way to go, Dad!

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Scammers have made untold millions from the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, even the savviest among us can fall victim to these creeps. Keep your wits about you. Warn elderly relatives about placing their trust in strangers on the phone or online.

Scams and cons have been around since the serpent offered some really juicy produce to Eve. It pays to be a skeptic.

Have you had a similar experience? Leave a comment. If the “local cops” don’t show up to throw me in the clink, I’ll respond.

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So Many Blogs. So Little Time.

In my last post, I talked about distractions that keep me from blogging.

I follow a bunch of other bloggers. It takes up a good chunk of time to catch every post which keeps me from posting on my own blog. Also, the sheer talent out there gives my Inner Critic plenty of ammunition.

But I’ll continue to read them. When you read, comment, and engage with your fellow bloggers, you become part of a wonderful community. I think of them as pen pals for the modern age.

Here list of some of my favorites. Those of you lucky enough to be listed will reap the benefits of being read by my entire list of followers. That’s right – you could reach tens of readers! Congratulations! Continue reading

My Underdog Blog – or How to be Bad at Blogging

Ah, a new year. There’s nothing like it for charting progress and tallying up successes. In the blogging world, it’s the time many bloggers examine their stats and reflect upon how well they stuck to their publishing schedules.

Unless, of course, you are me. It’s no wonder my favorite childhood cartoon was Underdog.

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a blog! A BLOG??? (Only those of you of a certain age will get this reference!)

 

Oh, I looked at my stats all right. When it comes to posting on this blog, on a scale of “comatose” to “killing it,” I fall somewhere between “sloth” and “distracted toddler.” The most baffling thing to me is that I’ve actually gained some followers. And some of them aren’t bots, but actual real live humans! Crazy! Continue reading

Sorry. Not sorry.

Well, this is a sorry state of affairs. I am in an all too familiar spot. It’s been ages since I published a post. Do I have excuses? Yes. Are they good ones? Some. Does anyone really care? Probably not.

I’m not just being self-deprecating here. I don’t have many followers. A handful of people read my stuff, and some of them are kind enough to hit like or leave a comment. If I were to go away for good, something might someday jog your memory and bring to mind one of my posts, but would you miss me? Hardly.

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There are bloggers I’ve followed who seem to have packed up and left WordPress. Or maybe they’re out there in some new iteration that I haven’t discovered yet. If they resurface*, I’m glad to see them back, but they don’t owe me an apology. I’m not gazing at my screen, arms crossed saying “Well, well, well. Look who’s come crawling back. Just what do you have to say for yourself? This better be good!”

Most of us here on WordPress are doing it for the fun of it; for the practice of it; for the catharsis of it; for the whatever-the-hell our reason is for it. We’re not getting paid, and we’re beholden to no one.

And still, many of us feel the need to explain why we haven’t posted in a while.

Your day job has hit a rough patch (my 14 tax seasons at a CPA’s office qualify). Your three kids are in three different schools with activities out the wazoo. You’re in the middle of senior finals. You’re busy attending all the Kardashian baby showers. More than one blogger I follow is busy publishing a book. (P.S. I hate you. P.P.S. No, I don’t! I envy you! Please be my friend so some of that inspiration and creativity will rub off!) Heck, even if the biggest item on your calendar is rearranging your sock drawer and you can’t find it in yourself to post, guess what? It’s really ok.

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I myself have been a serial apologizer most of my life. I have been known to say “sorry” to people who hit me with their grocery carts, or to start out confrontations saying “I’m sorry, but you really hurt my feelings.” So, if you feel the need to apologize, go ahead. I can relate. I will listen, sympathize, and give you absolution if that’s what you want

But, of all the things we have to be sorry about, not posting on our own, unpaid, just-for-the-hell-of-it blogs should not be one of them. I’m not doing it anymore, and neither should you!

Here are some people who really should be apologizing:

  • Bullies and internet trolls.
  • Anyone who sexually harasses anyone else.
  • People who litter.
  • That client who’s been ghosting me for the last two months, after making me think I’d be getting regular writing assignments.
  • Whoever designs public restrooms without hooks for your coat and purse.
  • People who take up two parking spots.
  • The makers of the GMC commercial with the weird looking little kid and the annoying “Me and You” song.
  • Companies that make you go through four different screens just to unsubscribe from their stupid emails.
  • Whoever keeps shrinking “fun size” candy bars.
  • The guy having a loud phone conversation in this coffee shop. Scratch that – he just got up to buy 4 servicemen from the nearby air force base their coffee. Dammit, now I’m sorry for not offering to do that myself.

We’re all human. There will always be something to feel sorry for. Save your apologies for the big stuff.

Now go and write something. Or don’t. Either way, you’re forgiven.

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Yes. Yes, you will. And that’s perfectly fine.

 

*Note: I started writing this post yesterday and set it aside to edit today. Overnight, I saw that one of the first blogger/poets I followed posted after an absence of nearly years! First of all, I’m wondering “what are the odds?!”

Second, did he apologize? Hell no! A post published a few days earlier (and that I somehow missed) was a story of someone entering a bar after a long absence. Brilliant!

A Day Late and a Million Dollars Short

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In response to the Daily Prompt from the WordPress Daily Post site: “Genius”, here is something I wrote awhile back…

How many times have you seen a product and said to yourself “why didn’t I think of that?” Even more frustrating is having an idea that someone else brings to reality later on. You can tell all your friends that you thought of it first, but of course no one will believe you. Continue reading

Family Sayings, or Idioms for Idiots

 

Last week, I was reading a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Pam at Catching My Drift. Read her blog for her beautifully lyrical take on life. She wrote about the origin of phrases, and in particular, the saying “staying until the last dog dies.”

I was surprised that I had never heard that saying before. When I was growing up, expressions like this were tossed around by my parents – especially Mom – on a regular basis.

My family is a brood of goofballs, with a rich history of silliness and sarcasm. My Mom had a sharp, irreverent wit. I can picture the little smirk on her lips when she’d pull one of the saltier maxims out of her repertoire. Reflecting on her favorite sayings, she cussed more than I realized.

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There’s that mischievous look! If there was something funny to say, you could count on Mom to say it.

Thanks to Pam, I’m now curious about where some of these phrases come from. I’ve got some research to do.

Here are some of my favorites, brought to you by fond memories of my cheeky Mom: Continue reading

Hemorrhoidal Tendencies: The Laundry Edition

Welcome to Hemorrhoidal Tendencies, the occasional feature of my blog where I complain about the things in this world that are a pain in the ass. 

Don’t let the name of my blog fool you. I did not get the nickname “Maid” because of my love of housework. Like most normal humans, I would rather do just about anything else. There is one chore I don’t mind though, and that’s laundry. In fact, I kind of enjoy it.

Once I finally grew up into an actual bona fide adult and got my own washer and dryer, my relationship with the wash improved. No more creepy apartment building laundry dungeons or equally creepy laundromats. Yippee!

 

I find doing the wash soothing and satisfying. If that makes me a weirdo, so be it. I love having everything clean and fresh smelling; folded and put away. I love it when I can wash every single item of dirty clothing except the clothes on my back. If I could convince Mr. Maid that we should adopt Naked Laundry Day in our house, I could get ALL the laundry done for once. The idea of having a house completely free of any dirty clothes – well – that would be a dream come true! Continue reading