Charlevoix County: beware telephone scams in East Jordan and beyond

GUEST COMMENTARY BY MITCHELL JON MCKAY

They hit East Jordan and vicinity recently.

This is a telephone scam.

Someone calls says s/he’s from Microsoft upgrading a technical glitch in your system.

Now, in the annals of criminology it’s known that urgency is a major component of the scam.

These shysters will and do try to get someone rattled and confused so some will even pretend to be angry at anyone who stalls or questions too much.

One episode had an Oriental male yelling at the recipient of his call as if to inculcate the urgency of his compliance in saving his computer or internet.

The clarion call is always designed to get your credit card number, your bank account access code, namely your money.

They’re quite persuasive.  In the one case alluded, a man gave the caller a little-used minor card number and before the call ended it was found later that the card had been activated while they were speaking, meaning of course that an accomplice awaited the number so s/he could quickly extract some money.

Even as they spoke!

This fellow got nervous and finally provoked and hung up, went to his bank, found the card had been activated but that the bank had rejected the charge.

Going to the computer center where the computer had been purchased he was advised that, yes, he had been scammed but fortunately no irreparable harm done, yet it was advised he not go online for a couple weeks, that there indeed were scammers combing the area.

This is a wide-open territory, not unlike a Wild West of highwaymen lurking around every arroyo, cliff and water hole.  The internet is a coach road.  The bandits know you’re coming.

The rule of “thumb” states that no one legitimate will ever call by phone to report that something needs fixing.

Nor will anyone email you—ever.

That’s why there are upgrades that automatically elevate your programs if you accept that or if it’s automated, usually an early morning app which needs to shut down your computer to finalize, so if you’re an early morning writer you might find that “Ctrl S” is a good idea after each few lines.

As far as is known there is no way to hack into your system without some action on your part.

But these people are clever, disguising their semantics to look like something normal, some name you recognize, anything innocuous at first glance.

It might look like part of your natural program with all those words we try to keep up with but can’t.

“Symform” is a recurrent word in my inbox, for instance, a viral infection that likely will result in a computer repairman’s time.

Symform could be some part of Microsoft Word for all most of us know.

But it’s not.

They want to get in there to find pertinent information they can ultimately use to clean out your bank account.

Why do they do it, we might well ask, when many of us don’t have enough in our accounts after paying bills to be of interest to con men.

Well, if they get there before the bills are due, the bills might not get paid that month.

Other scams are accomplished via internet.

One example was a benevolent organization in Michigan.

An urgent email came from a group member writing from England needing money to get home via plane because someone had stolen her purse.

The scammer knew the woman’s name and her affiliation with the organization, somehow could mimic the American manner of writing even though as it turned out in retrospect used some British spellings.

When once the $2,000 was collected to help their friend in need, the e-mailer then asked for a thousand more for retrieval of some baggage, at which the e-mail recipient grew suspicious and while online dialed the woman’s home number nearby.

The woman answered—at home, not in England.

Two thousand dollars later.

You get the gist.

They’re out there, all day, all night, all year ‘round.  Again, it’s unlikely they’ll get you if you stay cynically suspicious.  It can and will happen to you.

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