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

Ahimsa (or, Elbowing My Way Toward Enlightenment)

Experiencing dry spells in this blog is nothing new. Most of my recent posts have been reruns of old stuff. I’ve been busy with other things, but I sometimes wonder if I’m just out of things to say. Time will tell. In the meantime, here is something I wrote about 2 years ago. I’m posting it in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt: Enlighten. We could all use a reminder to be kind to others – and to ourselves.


Originally posted October 11, 2015 

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I didn’t want to go to my yoga class last week. I usually look forward to the hour and a half of time spent on me and me alone, but this time I just wasn’t in the mood. This time of year I usually work three days a week, but I was working a full, 40 hour week. The change in my routine had made me crabby, and a night vegging on the couch sounded much more appealing. My right elbow was crabby and sore as well. The idea of doing poses that would challenge its comfort seemed like torture.

“You should go,” said Mr. Maid. “You know you’ll feel better if you do.” Continue reading

Serendipity-Do

WordPress’ Daily Prompt today is Coincidence. Here is a re-post of a piece I wrote EXACTLY one year ago today! How weird is that?!

My stepdaughter is a wedding photographer and shot a wedding in New York City over the weekend. Her husband tagged along and they made a mini vacation out of it. We got to dog-sit our “granddog,” Jubilee. When they came over Sunday for dinner and to pick up the dog, we started talking about coincidences. While doing some site-seeing on the Brooklyn Bridge they heard someone call out my son-in-law’s name. Lo and behold, friends from their college here in Illinois were also there on vacation. At the same time. In New York. On the Brooklyn Bridge. Nearly 1000 miles away.

There have been volumes written about the topic of coincidences. Chance? Fate? Luck? Or merely mathematical probability? Theories abound from people much smarter than I. All I know is that I am fascinated by them. I also feel like I’ve had more than my share of them in my life. Continue reading

Totality Was Totally Worth It

I’ve been wanting to post about the total eclipse, but I’ve been stuck. It happened a week ago, and although I’ve started writing about it a few times, the post just hasn’t been coming together to convey what I wanted to say. After some reflection, here are my thoughts on the experience…

A few weeks before the event, I wrote a somewhat sarcastic account of the anticipation and preparation surrounding it.

Don’t get me wrong – I was excited to experience the phenomenon first hand. Since we live so close to the path of totality, it was a no brainer that we’d take a drive to see it.

Now, after it’s all over, I’ve had some time to think about what it meant to me.

Just as every Tom, Dick, and Harry added to the hype, they have also put their two cents in with follow ups. You’ve no doubt seen the news coverage, heard the accounts, and seen the photos. I don’t feel I can add much to that aspect of the event.

What I can tell you though, is how it felt. It felt like seeing the Grand Canyon the first time, when I couldn’t stop saying “WOW!” over and over. (I really wax poetic sometimes, don’t I?!)

In short, it was something I will never forget. Continue reading

Gateway to the West

In response to the WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge:

Perhaps it’s because I’m not a native of St. Louis, but whenever I’m on the grounds of the Gateway Arch Monument, I have the urge to act like a tourist and take a picture. Especially when it’s gleaming on a bright, sunny day, it makes me proud of my adopted city. These were taken a few years ago, from the approximate spot where my husband proposed.

Not only does it give me an “ooh shiny!” kind of distraction, but it is also, indeed a giant, shiny, hunk of steel.

You can read all about the Gateway to the West here.

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photo my own