An almost-costly mistake


Last updated 9/28/2021 at Noon

It’s always uncomfortable admitting you’ve made a mistake — especially if you need to do it publicly. There are times, however, that it is important to do that, and this is one of those times.

I recently was scammed.

This occurred when some very convincing, sincere-sounding “gentlemen” sent an email to my computer. Their intention was to take advantage of anyone vulnerable to their message — mainly a senior with limited income.

I became a victim by responding anxiously to an inappropriate charge of a large sum of money. That, having a hearing disability and being overly trusting, contributed to my being duped.

It started when a charge for a service I didn’t recognize appeared in my emails. There was an alleged free trial for which I supposedly had signed up. It was coming to an end and all I had to do was call a number provided to cancel the charge. I had 24 hours to accomplish this, or I was giving my automatic approval.

Not recognizing the service, I called immediately and had difficulty understanding what I was supposed to do. I excused myself to get my hearing aids, thinking my lack of hearing was the problem. At this point, I was transferred to a supervisor.

My mistake was not hanging up as soon as I was transferred. I did not, because I still did not have any assurance that I wasn’t going to be charged. From that point on, with me not understanding the technology of my computer, I inadvertently gave out too much information. I’m embarrassed to say that consequently the scammers gained access to my bank account and transferred my entire savings account to my checking account.

Thank goodness I woke up to what was happening. With some quick work by the Sheriff’s Department (who encouraged me to completely shut down my computer) and Lisa at the First Interstate Bank, my account was frozen and I did not lose any money.

I did, however, have to close my account, change all of my automatic payments, and not have the use of my computer for several days until it could be scrubbed clean by the Geeks at Best Buy. That valuable service ended up costing more than half of what the original fraudulent bill would have been.

Yes, I who regard myself as an astute, thinking person, who usually displays good judgment and am very aware that there are perpetrators out there, fell for this scam, something I felt could never happen to me.

In the August/September issue of the AARP magazine, the headline “I’m Becky From Medicare and I’m a Fraud,” caught my eye. The caption that went along with the article declared that “a new, fraudulent robocall is sweeping the nation,” one that is having a huge impact even though it may not cost individuals any money. According to the article scammers and inappropriate billers cost Medicare more than $40 billion of its 2020 budget.

In sharing my story with my kids I learned that my son-in-law, a highly educated, intelligent headmaster of a private school, had also fallen for a scam. Me, maybe. Andy, never!

I am sharing all of this so others may be alerted to how easy it is to be duped. Today the only good thing that has come from this is being richer in my awareness of what can happen.

Since this experience, I’ve learned that once you are aware of what is happening it’s important to phone the Oregon State Consumer Protection Agency, which is part of the Department of Justice (1-877-877-9392 or 503-378-4320).

Yes, I was gullible and made a stupid, avoidable mistake by not following my instincts, which from the beginning told me this was a scam. How I hope that I am the last one to fall prey to their sincere, convincing, discourse. Unfortunately, according to the Sheriff, it is highly unlikely who the scammers are and where they are located will ever be discovered. Most likely they will strike again. Please, be aware.


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