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Opinion: Here is the proper way to deal with scammer calls

If it's too good to be true, it almost always is
File photo

This morning I received a call from a blocked number, which I would usually send to voicemail. However, I was feeling curious so I picked up.

It was a scammer attempting to perpetrate a fraud, and I used it as an opportunity to do a tiny good deed.

I kept him on the phone for about ten minutes, having him believe that I was falling for his scam, so that I might prevent even one other person from falling prey to it today. I hoped to waste some of his time.

The call went like this:


"Hello sir, this is David White from the Telus Phone Company. Are you sitting down? You have won a prize."

I know immediately that it's a scam. A big part of my job here at V.I.A. is trying to figure out what is and isn't B.S., and the bells start ringing immediately. A blocked number and someone randomly telling me I won a prize are too good to be true. And if it's too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

"Wow! I never win anything! What did I win?"



"Yes, $550,000, we will deliver it to you today."

"In cash?!"

"Yes sir, in cash."

"Like hundreds or twenties or what?"

"Yes, hundreds or twenties."

"What if I want it in fifties, can you do fifties?"

"Yes sir, we can do fifties."

"Fantastic. Do you have my name there?"

"We don't have your name because your number was randomly selected by the Telus Phone Company."

"Okay, but you're my phone provider. You don't have my name?"

"No sir, your number was randomly selected."

"Ok. That's fine."

"Do you have a pen and paper there? You're going to need to write this down."

He reads out a series of "claim numbers", which I say I'm writing down.

He wants me to go to Walmart, get a $250 gift card, give him the number on the back of it, then he will send over the $550,000.

I ask if he himself might be able to drop off the money, and he assures me he can do that.

A rooster crows in the background and I ask "What's with the chicken?!"

He answers, "Oh sir, that's not a chicken, that is my alarm clock."

I tell him I'll make him a deal. I'll send him the $250 gift card AFTER he drops off the $550,000 in cash.

No dice.

So I up my offer, telling him that I will personally cut him in for half of the money ($275,000) if he makes it so I don't have to buy the gift card.

"Sir, I could get fired for that."

"You could buy a lot of chickens for that kind of money!"

"Sir, I don't know what you mean about chicken. That was my alarm clock."

At this point he lets me know that I'm not the first winner, and I won't be the last, and if somebody were to pick up my phone they could claim the prize, so I need to go get a Walmart gift card stat.

I tell him I'm apprehensive about the gift card, and he says I could sue his company if they don't deliver me my $550,000 in fifties after I wire him the gift card info.

"I don't even know what your company is though?"

"It's the Telus Phone Company."

"Oh, right! I forgot."

"Sir, $250 is a drop in the bucket of the money you will be getting."

The rooster crows again, and I let him know I think it's a scam and that I just wanted to keep him on the phone so he couldn... and he hangs up.

People fall for this type of predatory trash all day every day. If you're able to spare a few minutes when they call you, this is one of the only ways you can help prevent more of it from happening. If only a small amount, it's pitching in.

That, and letting the people in your life who may be vulnerable to this sort of scam know to hang up should anybody ever ask them to purchase a gift card over the phone. For any reason.

There is literally no legitimate reason for anyone to ever ask you to buy a gift card over the phone.