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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Day 149: Another Facebook Scam




My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 149: Another Facebook Scam

Most of us pride ourselves on cleverness. When a scam is going around, we either know about it, or we think we’re smart enough not to fall for it. However, scammers came in all kinds of different forms and when one of those forms is a trusted friend, the scam is not so easy to recognize.

On Sunday morning I received a text from Steve (not his real name) starting with a simple “Hey”
Wiping sleep from my eyes I texted a “Hi” back.

“How are you?”
“Good. How are you?”
“Very good and very excited.”
“Oh?”
“I came into some money. $100,000.”
“You’re joking. Did you win that with the lotto?”
“No, through a grant program that is aimed at the unemployed, elderly, disabled, students, etc.”
“And you qualified?”
“Sure did. UPS delivered the money yesterday.”
“UPS delivered the money?”
“Yes. The online agent asked me if I wanted a cheque or cash and I said cash.”
“And UPS delivered that?”
“Yes. $100,000. I paid off my bills and took the rest to the bank.”
“That’s great. Congratulations.”

I found it a little strange that UPS delivers money but okay, if Steve said so, I wasn’t going to doubt him.

“You can get the same grant,” he went on. “I saw your name on the list. If you contact the online agent, you can get the grant too.”

It didn’t occur to me that this could be a scam. After all, this was Steve I was ‘talking’ to and why would he lie to me? The amount of money was also believable. Talk of millions of dollars would have raised a red flag, but $100,000 seemed reasonable.

“Contact the agent now,” Steve concluded. “His number is XXX-XXX-XXXX. Tell him that a friend saw your name on the list.”
“Okay, I will. Thanks.”

Moments later I fired off a text to the number provided and within minutes I received a text back.

“Your name is indeed on our list of grant receivers. Since we place high value on security, I will need your personal information so there can be no duplication of the grant.”
“Okay, I understand.”
“Are you ready to fill in the form now?”
“Yes”

I was mentally doing a dance of joy. $100,000 … could this be for real? Common sense told me this was too good to be true, but this message came from Steve and I trusted him.

Moments later I received a set of questions from the online agent:

Full name:
Address:
Gender:
Date of Birth:
Copy of Driver License or other photo I.D.:

Hm, now I did see a red flag. I’m notoriously hesitant of sharing my personal information, especially where it comes to government issued documentation. Before doing that, I wanted to verify with Steve that this grant program was for real and he had indeed received $100,000.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get hold of Steve, so I tried his girlfriend next. Doreen (not her real name) told me Steve has stepped outside for a moment, but he would be back shortly. When I got to talk to Steve, he sounded a little flat, not at all like a man who had just received a sizeable amount of money.

“Hi Steve, congratulations on the money.”
“What money?”
“The hundred thousand dollars.”
“What hundred thousand dollars?”
“You didn’t receive hundred thousand dollars from the grant program?”
He immediately knew what I was referring to.
“It’s a scam. My Facebook account was hacked and several of my friends were contacted by the scammer.”
“Oh I see.”
"You didn't fall for it, did you?"
"I did, sort of, but I didn't give him any vital information."
"Do you really think that if I won $100,000 I would tell everyone about it?"

That made sense. Mentally I saw $100,000 go out the window.

The scammer didn’t give up easily though. Throughout the day he send me messages such as

“When can you send me photo I.D.?”
“We have been waiting for you, we have a lot of people attending to.”
And then his last one … “Should we terminate your grant?”

This, I suppose, was to spur me into action. I took action of a different kind, I notified the authorities, if for nothing else than to have a case number in the event of identity theft. I kept Steve’s name out of the conversation. Not that my call was necessary. Mr. Scammer was known to them and an investigation was underway. Mr. Scammer’s days were numbered. They knew who and where he was and his scam would soon be terminated.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Day 148: Inspector Greyson


My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 148: Inspector Greyson

Can you guess what Greyson is looking at? No, it’s not a bird and it’s not a mouse, what has him so fascinated are … construction workers. Unfortunately for Greyson, he won’t see the completion of the parking project as it’s getting way too cold for him to be outside.

Just two weeks ago, we had a day when it was 28 degrees (82.4 degrees), followed by 24 degrees (75.2 degrees) and then suddenly we dropped to 11 degrees (51.8 degrees). It’s been that way ever since.

Charlotte, Holly, Halley, and Greyson are as keen as ever to go out on the balcony, but their reaction varies.

Charlotte and Holly hop outside but almost immediately change their mind, clearly wondering … what the hell happened?

Halley and Greyson love to be out in the fresh air but I fear that the air might be a little too fresh and they might get a cold. Now that the door stays closed, they are far from impressed.



So, the construction workers will have to muddle through without inspector Greyson. The last picture I posted was this one.


Since then, the men have made good progress. See for yourself …









 Meanwhile, at home, Greyson went to the vet last week for his third inoculation and rabies shot. When I pitched the news to him, he didn’t seem to trust me all that much.





The visit went off without a hitch though, he was perfectly behaved, got a treat when we got home, after which he took a long nap. The journey to the vet and back and getting pricked clearly left him exhausted.


As for Halley and Holly … these two geniuses took a liking to Greyson’s carrier. Just to be clear, we have two carriers, a small one and a large one. The large one is spacious enough for a Poodle, yet under normal circumstances, it takes Dieter and me to get a cat into the carrier. Whoever needs to go into that carrier fights us all the way. Yet now, both Halley and Holly went willingly into the carrier and not the big one but the small one. I can imagine the conversation went a bit as follows:


"The carrier is mine, all mine."


"Mom, come here and tell Holly to get out."


"Can you stop taking pictures and tell Holly to move?"


"It's a snug fit, but it will do."

Of course, it was only a matter of time before Holly deftly kicked Halley out of her hiding place and claimed it back as her own. When I found out she was severely reprimanded and was given a timeout. 



Monday, October 22, 2018

Day 147: Happy Birthday Halley - From Kitten to Cat



My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 147: Happy Birthday Halley - 1 Year Old

We adopted Halley from Jackie (a Toronto Cat Rescue foster mother) when she was a three-month-old kitten. 
 

From day one, Halley made herself right at home. She explored the house, made friends with the resident cats, and tried different places to sleep.




She was a rather curious kitten, exploring places such as cabinets, drawers and even the inside of the fridge.


 



When Easter came around, Halley took a close look at the ornaments and told them in no uncertain terms to move over. 


 

Since she took a liking to one chicken, in particular, we let her have it and it was love at first sight.




Right from the start, she had a particular liking for colorful springs, which she batted all around the house. Unfortunately, in the process, quite a few of those springs went missing. When we cleaned under the sofa, we found no less than 15 of those springs, along with rubber balls, stuffed mice and even a Christmas ornament. Other toys of preference are a rotating ball and a life-size fish, both toys she claims as her own and is not keen on sharing.



Halley is very much Dieter’s cat. She’s made it her business to wake him up in the morning, but unfortunately, her inner clock is a little off. While Dieter has his alarm set for 6:00 a.m., Halley often wakes him with kisses and headbutts sometimes as early as 4:30 a.m. Neither does she know the difference between a work day and weekends. As you can imagine, a wake-up call at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning is not appreciated.

When Dieter is on the computer or working on his tablet, she likes to keep him company. At times she merely sits on his lap or shoulder, other times she likes to get a really close look.




The same with watching TV. For Halley it’s not enough to watch from a distance, she prefers a front row seat.



When Dieter is busy with diamond painting, Halley is there, keeping an eye that he does things right.



When it’s time to relax and unwind, there’s nothing like cuddling with daddy in his arm.

 

When summer came around, this opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Halley is a keen birdwatcher, and an inspector of construction works of the parking lot. She also took an interest in fish.






After sundown, Halley could be found in the swing, or in the company of Greyson.



When winter comes around, Halley is almost sure to fancy a walk in the snow and I'll be sure to have my camera ready.

Happy birthday Halley, what will your second year bring?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Day 146: Scam Targeting Writers


My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 146: Scam Targeting Writers

There’s a long list of things that tick me off and somewhere on that list, you would find … scammers, especially scammers who target writers.

One such scammer is Amy E. who one fine day decided to start flooding my inbox with messages such as: do you want to be a writer? Do you want to sell more books? Do you want to be a bestselling author?

I knew right away that I was dealing with a scammer as nobody can make you a bestselling author. To become a bestselling author, you have to write something, a literary agent has to accept it, a talented editor has to make the work better, a publisher has to publish it and a marketing team has to bring it to the attention of readers.

Now if Amy E. were a bestselling author or even an author for that matter, her offer of advice would carry some weight, but she’s a nobody.

If I were to get a chance to address Amy E. I would say … Do you know what Ernest Hemingway, James Patterson, and J.K. Rowling had in common? Each of them had an idea, sat down, opened a book, took a pen and started writing. 

At the time, Hemingway had no idea he would become one of the most respected authors of our time; Patterson didn’t have a clue that he would be listed in the Guinness World Record book with the most New York Times bestsellers; while Rowling would have been baffled if she had known that little Harry Potter would make her one of the richest people in England.

If those people were to offer advice to writers I would be the first to take a front-row seat, but Amy E. … who is Amy E. and why would I take writing advice from someone who isn’t published, who isn’t even a writer?

Her advice to writers to get their work noticed is:

·          Join local writer groups
·          Online critique groups
·          Facebook groups
·          RWA (if you’re a romance author)
·          Bloggers;
·          Websites dedicated to authors and their crafts.

Is this the best she can come up with? I typed in Google “How to get my writing noticed” and within seconds I received 209,000,000 results. My guess is that Amy did the same. She prowled Google, gathered information on how to write and get writing work noticed and then passes it off as her own advice. Shame on you Amy, while this is not exactly plagiarism, it’s highly unethical, especially if you’re charging for this advice.

For those who already have written something, Amy offers a review of their work. For a standard review, she charges $250, for a rush review $325. I have news for Amy … most writers are broke and can ill afford $25 for a review, let alone $250. Besides, have a look on Amazon, there are tons of reviews there all written by readers FOR FREE.

Some people just have no scruples. They’re looking for a way to make money and any means will do. A few might fall for her scam and end up disappointed, others – especially those who have been around the block a few times – will shake their head and think ‘Nice one Amy, but try again’, which no doubt she will. After all, if one scam doesn’t work, try another.

As for me, one good thing came out of Amy’s worthless babble … it got me out of my slump. Ever since Gabriel’s passing I hadn’t written one word. As you can see I’m out of that slump.