Friday, January 06, 2006


My day (and sometime night and sometime all-day-and-night) job is the general manager of a little coffee house. It is part of a California-based chain that is expanding into other states. Most of the time I enjoy the job and, hey, it pays the bills.

The other day I answer the phone. The woman identifies herself as a representative of our credit card supply company. She asks if all our credit card machines are working properly. Yes, I reply. She then informs me that our credit card supplies are increasing in price at the end of the month and would I like to order now before the increase. No, I answer. End of conversation.

Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it?

The woman was lying from the get-go. We don’t have a credit card supply company and, if we did, they’d be calling the corporate office not little ol’ me. This supposedly company calls every business they can dial and gives them the same speech. They are hoping that people won’t know who they actually deal with and order supplies from them. The order when it arrives will be the cheapest paper supplies ever seen on the planet and the price will be astronomical. They record every conversation so if they do in up in court they can prove you “ordered” the supplies.

First, I left a note in our log for my shift supervisors. I have or will talk to each of them personally. They know who our suppliers are, there aren’t that many, and if they don’t the name of the company on the line then the answer will always be the same. The person has to talk to me.

Most, but not all, of my shift leads are college students. They haven’t run into people like this before. They don’t know.

Second, I emailed my District Manager to alert her and I asked if I could be a little more blunt and forceful if they called again. I had in mind using George Carlin’s “The Seven Words You can Never Say on Television.” Okay, the word “tits” is on George’s list and I wouldn’t have used that term. If you can see laughing in an email I did when my DM replied. Basically she said to stay professional and not sink to their level. Hey, I’m not above sinking a little when it’s called for.

The shift leads I talked to today had never heard of this scam. I forget how trusting and naïve you are at that age. For the most part anyway.

I remember when I was younger and I fell for a couple of scams. I was, briefly, part of a pyramid ladder until I realized how many people have to become involved before you seen your windfall. Think about it, you only have to bring in two people. Only two. One = two = four = eight = sixteen and by the time your name moves to the top of the pyramid the entire population of the planet has to be involved. I also contributed to a group supporting the families of Highway Patrol officers killed in the line of duty. Donate and you get a supporter sticker to proudly display on your car or in your business’s window. Yeah, only the real Highway Patrol had never heard of this group. I keep reading about the Nigerian scam. In this one you’re contacted by a former general or something from Nigeria. Why they picked you is never explained. The general needs to get his funds out of Nigeria before the bad-guy rebels get them. All he needs his an American bank account to put the money into for safekeeping. He will give you a percentage for helping him. Yeah, go ahead, send some complete stranger your bank account number and see what happens. Can we all say “Bank account cleaned out”? All these scams are still being run because they get people to fall for them. Be alert.

Okay, I’m finished with the soapbox. Anybody else want to borrow it?

In closing, I have just one thing to say to these scammers and it ain’t:

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