Only an idiot would fall for these scams

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 7, 2012 - 4:14 PM

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota has released its list of Top Scams, and by "top" we don't mean "Holy cow, are these effective. Give 'em a try." They're the schemes that seemed most popular among the miscreant class.

A new scam for 2012: Calling people in hotels at 3 a.m., pretending to be the front desk, and asking for your credit card number.

I don't know why they target only people in hotels; call anyone at 3 a.m., say you're from "the front desk," and people will be so sleepy they'll just assume they're in a hotel. Then the next morning they get up, get in the shower, note that the shampoo isn't in tiny bottles, and realize they've been had. (Note: If this happens to your partner, it's bad, but just for fun, knock on the bathroom door and shout "HOUSEKEEPING!")

Here are some others to watch out for, based on our research. Just remember that smart people are safe from these, because only idiots are gullible enough to get taken.

• Someone gives you all sorts of useful stuff, and asks only that you look at a few ads. Wait, that's the Internet. Never mind.

• An e-mail from Nigeria says you must wire them $1,000 or they will move the Vikings to Lagos. (This has been highly effective with some legislators, alas.)

• Any situation where someone takes your credit card number and promises to deliver your merchandise by Christmas. Unless it's Best Buy!

Not listed in the BBB story was the drain-replacement racket, where a plumber says your entire drain has to be replaced NOW at ruinous cost, and you give in, because you're an idiot.

This happened to someone I know, and he recently got a call from the cops on the case. He got an instant panic spasm when he got a cellphone message from the cops and assumed: EVERYONE I LOVE IS DEAD.

This is the correct way for a police officer to begin a message on your cellphone: Hello, this is Officer Bob Example of the Minneapolis Police Department. You are not in trouble and nothing bad happened to anyone you loved. ...

Anyway, my friend called back and was happy to help. I just wonder why the officer wanted my credit card and bank account numbers, but I gave them anyway.

I mean HIS numbers. His.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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