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The Scoop - I didn't fall for this one
James 2.jpg

I’ve gotten the shaft from car mechanics and I've been swindled by home repairmen. Who hasn’t?

It explains why I try to do everything myself now and why my cars run so badly.

I’m proud to say that over the years I’ve been able to withstand the challenges of phone scams, with my latest triumph coming on Tuesday afternoon.

That was when I was informed by phone, at 3:28 p.m., that I had won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and was a millionaire! My prize, I was told in choppy English, was $2.8 million in cash along with a 2022 Mercedes. 

So of course this is a scam, but I was curious how much I could learn by playing along. I usually just hang up.

It turns out the phone call was a textbook example of what law enforcement officials have been saying all these year. I was told my new Mercedes was already on the way to my house and it would be there soon. 

I was even given a claim number for my Mercedes, which I was told to write down. All I needed to do to claim the car and the cash was to provide Publishers Clearing House with a “registration card.”

So what’s this registration card, I asked? The caller told me the registration card was actually a OneVanilla card, which is a prepaid credit card. I was told to put $499.99 on the card. Turns out, when I looked up the OneVanilla card online, it has a limit of $500 so they were just 1 cent away from trying to get every penny from me they possibly could.

The caller kept asking if I was on my way to the store. He insisted he would stay on the line for the entire process, all the way up to my new car rolling in the driveway. 

Was I dressed? Could I drive to the store right now? These are questions the caller kept asking.

Under pressure, I lied. I told him I had just gotten in my car.

Well guess what. He didn’t believe me. The guy calling to steal my money didn’t believe me. I'm offended.

Honk three times, he told me. If you’re in the car then honk.

OK, I’m not really in the car, I admitted.

This put our conversation on a downward spiral. I guess I could have walked to the car and started driving, but I was growing tired of this game and knew where it was headed so I just hung up. 

He called back three times before I finally told him I knew he was trying to scam me and I wasn’t getting in my car.

In an unrelated, very unsettling note, I heard on NewsChannel 5 on Wednesday night that an alarming text message scam has been going around Middle Tennessee. The station reported that text messages are threatening to kill you and your family members if a ransom is not paid.

This is just a scam, NewsChannel 5 said. Please don’t worry.

It’s a very disturbing scam if you ask me. That’s taking it a bit far.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.