Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thieves and Scams

Scams are a way of life on the Beautiful Isle. Yesterday my neighbor stopped by and she and my wife fell to discussing some that had happened to her. An old woman who collects recycling stuff and sells it to get by, she hardly has a cent, but nevertheless, thieves have ransacked her house twice.

She also got a phone call from a scammer a while back. The scammer called her son and told him he was massively in debt and that it had to be paid at once and in full. They got all panicky -- one trick the scammers use is to get you all panicky -- and rushed out the door. But there was more! Incredibly, the scammers had told them that they had to take a backpack of a certain color, and that they had to keep the line open all the way to the bank. Despite discussion of such scams every day in the papers, they fell for it.

They drove to the bank, the mother holding the cellphone and keeping the line open. When they got there, another Hero Teller immediately identified this tale as a scam. In another interesting psychological twist, they started to argue with the Teller. She argued back, and called for a policeman who happened to be making his rounds and had stopped by the bank. When the policeman came over, the scammer on the line hung up instantly.

Not only did they have someone on the phone, they also had someone in the bank. An acquaintance of mine used to actually do scams of this nature, and he said that they operate in gangs of 50-60. The gang as a whole made money, but being on the bottom, he only got a tiny taste each time. So he left the gang...


Battlepanda said...

LOL I almost fell for a scam when I first came back from the states. I got a very realistic phonecall from "the Taipei district attorney's office" who left a message saying that I have missed two court meetings and that I have to call the police. I called the number and a "detective" answered telling me that I've been implicated in a money laundering scam and that they will need my id number etc etc. Like an idiot, I gave it to them. But that's not enough to cause mischief nowdays. "What's your bank account number." "Um. I don't have one." "What about postal office accounts." "nope." "Where do you keep your money?" "Um. I just came back from abroad."

I can imagine how exasperated he must have been to have found a mark dumb enough to give her details but no account! After I hung up I called my local police station to double-check. No sooner have the words "Taipei district attorney's office" left my lips than the police started saying "scam! it's a scam! Don't tell them anything!"

Michael Turton said...

LOL. That's pretty funny. But then it's not, really.


Anonymous said...

Although a safe place to live, Taiwan has a significant criminal class.

In the time that I have lived here, I've had my apartment(s) broken into 3 times and my office once. Last years, my girlfriend's apartment was broken into and her brand new laptop was stolen. Worst, is that it took here a year to pay off afterwards since she just bought it on her credit card.

To top it off, about 3 months ago, I gave her a brand new laptop, and wouldn't you know, her office was broken into a few weeks ago and it was stolen.

Taiwan is full of thieves. (both ends of the financial spectrum)

Her friend's father was also just taken by a telephone scammer and lost over $600K. It would have been more, but a bank clerk saved the day. (I heard this particular scam originated with phone calls from China)

Anyone that moves here probably wonders why there are prison like cages over ever single window of every single building here, even 12+ floors up. It's really sicking this element prevails so much and the laws are so lax that people get away with it over and over again.

I recommend sending thieves be sent to Lanyu and work in the nuke dump. This way, their pathetic lives will end quicker and they will do something to benefit society for once. This is one part of Taiwan life that absolutely sucks.

Unknown said...

LOL. Check out the June issue (already out - p.s. by the way, I am totally addicted to the magazine, which I buy every month here) of Atlantic Monthly about scamming the scammmers, "How To Trick An Online Scammer Into Carving a Computer Out of Wood and Other Ingenious Acts of Cyber-Vengeance." I haven't laughed so hard in this three-and-a-half decades of my life. But as Michael says, some of the things about such matters are not so funny. I might be blogging about the above article this week, if not later tonight.