Scams R Us
Two Fridays ago, I was driving home from dropping my wife at the hospital to get her retinas photographed to deal with cataracts, when my cell phone rang through the car's communication system, and I punched the button on the dashboard to answer the call. A voice mispronounced my name and proceeded to recite my street address and then ask if I lived there. I grunted an affirmative and the voice went on to inform me that the electric power at my residence would be cut off in the next 45 minutes. He then asked if there was anybody on a respirator or other necessary health apparatus. No.
So the technician would be there shortly to cut off power. He then gave me a name and phone number of a guy who could help me correct whatever the problem might be that necessitated the impending cut off.
As I was driving at the time, I could not write it down and told him so. He said that he could notify the guy and ask him to call me. I asked him to do so. Before I heard from this personage, I got another call from the "technician" who was on the way to turn off my juice. I told him I was standing by for that other call. He said that he hoped we could resolve this soon as he was on his way.
Of course, this all had a funky smell to it, as I knew that I had paid the most recent bill from my checking account. But how implausible is the idea that the LA Department of Water and Power might get my account fucked up? So I decided to talk with the Helping Hand Guy who called me shortly after I got home. Since it was Friday, he could not stop the cutoff with a debit or credit card payment, which would not be processed until after the weekend. This was a major tell of the scam, and of course he had an alternative. I could go to a payment center and pay for a payment card to cover my $498 delinquent bill. He gave me the street address of the nearest payment center. I was very suspicious, but I reasoned that I could apply the absurd amount to future bills, assuming the drug store he referred me to actually would have a light bill payment system.
To make this tedious story move along, the drug store help told me it sounded like a scam, and I agreed. I called the Helping Hand at the number on caller ID and heard the generic Cell phone message, with no name or company identified. I then looked up the Area Code and found out the call came from Spokane, Washington. Shortly thereafter, he called me back and we had a pissy conversation in which he berated me for my ignorance. He sent me a picture via text of the kind of pre-paid debit card he needed to keep my power on. I told him to forget about me sending him any such card and he replied that he would cut me off.
I said, "Do your best." And then hung up
Shortly thereafter, I thought of the line I should have kissed him off with. "The moral of this story is Never snark off at the mark."
This past Friday I got a text from my "bank." it said, "We have just de-activated the debit card with the starting four numbers 4079." To reactivate your card, click on this link. The link was labeled "Reactivation." All you had to do was enter all the numbers from the card including the security code and expiration date. They didn't even snark off at me, but I did not bite.
Then this morning as part of my continuing recovery from a stroke, I took a mile and a half walk around West Hollywood on residential streets with stretches on Santa Monica Blvd. and Fairfax Ave.
I saw four different guys sleeping on the sidewalk as a drizzling rain was cranking up. I also saw a For Rent sign, 1 bedroom 1 bath, $2500.
This shit can't last.