Falling Victim

Before I admit to falling victim to an internet scam, allow me to lay some groundwork. This scammer found the chink in my armor of skepticism by posing as a representative of Costco.

Now I realize that there are many people who dislike the whole warehouse atmosphere. When I took my niece with me to the Costco in Denver, I was in my element but she felt completely overwhelmed by the chaotic shopper frenzy that she described as “Christmas in July”.

I simply love the concept of having limited choices, utilitarian displays of reasonably priced merchandise, a quality store brand (Kirkland), rotating seasonal items, cheap gas (sometimes 40 cents a gallon cheaper than the neighborhood ARCO), and a staff that’s fairly compensated. Add to that, unparalleled people watching, and it’s my idea of an adventure.

So, when I saw an email offering a gift in return for completing a short survey, on my phone, I proceeded to answer the simple questions. When I reached the end of the survey, my scam radar was aroused by the value of the “prizes” from which I could choose. Rule #1 – if it sounds too good to be true, it is. In retrospect, the second clue should have been that there was a very short time window in which to select your prize. Nonetheless, I eagerly selected a pair of electronic tracking devices. And then came the hook. The lucky recipient had to pay only shipping and handling. Hmm, I thought, let’s see how much they want for shipping and handling. Lo and behold, it was quite reasonable: $6.70. About the time I was debating which credit card to use, the bell that had been stifled by the rosy glow of Costco loyalty, began to penetrate my consciousness.

By this time, I had provided my name (slightly altered), address, phone number (the landline that gets only telemarketing calls anyway), and my email address. (I figured it’s easy enough to block unwanted email.) I went to my PC to look at the email more carefully. Outlook shows the sender’s email address and scams are easy to identify. No doubt about it, it was a scam and I had almost sent my credit card information.

When I read about people who actually fall victim to these scams, I can’t help but think that I’m too smart, too skeptical, to wary, to fall for one. But this made me realize that I’m just as clueless as the next person if you manage to find my blind spot.