Friday, March 1, 2024
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Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

On Monday morning I received the joyously exciting news that I had won the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes, and I would be receiving the $18,500,000 first prize money, plus a new car, make and model not specified. The caller, who spoke with a heavy foreign accent, assured me that his call was not a scam, saying how happy he was to have reached me.

Rather than hanging up immediately, I decided to play along with his farce, and I told him that I was ineligible to win inasmuch as I had won previously, at which time I was told that I could not win again. He insisted that he knew nothing of that situation, but that I indeed had won this time.  

While we spoke, ironically, despite knowing that the call was a scam, thoughts of what I would do with the money flashed through my brain. Round the World Cruise on the Queen Mary 2, a wintertime condo in sunny Florida, taking the Trans-Canada train from Toronto to Vancouver, the thoughts were endless as he rambled on and on monotonously.  

Finally, I stopped responding to his litany of dollars, causing him to try continually to engage me. After a few more tempting questions, he said to someone else over the din of multiple telephone conversations in the background, “I lost him,” and the connection passed to the busy signal, meaning no Queen Mary 2 this year.

The last time someone posing as a member of this group contacted me, I carried on the conversation a bit longer, until the point when the caller asked for my street address in Richmond in order to bring me the check and the new car in person. That time the caller appeared confused that my residence was not on a street in the capital and that I lived over two hours away. When we got to the point that I was told that all this bonanza could be mine as soon as I gave him my credit card number and agreed to the charge of $490, which seemed to me to be an odd amount, that call also failed.

This week’s charade was the third time in the last five years that I was accosted by these would-be benevolent callers. I concluded that either I am on their potential sucker list, or that their computer program is not adept at purging worthless calls.

In the first place, as I had not entered the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes, I did not fear that I was losing my winnings by not pursuing the gentleman’s proffered largesse. The question he repeated as to whether I had heard of the sweepstakes seemed to contradict his assurance that I had entered it, but I do not think logic was the guidepost of his call.

With inflation being what it is today, I am certain that the aforementioned call asking for the $490 would have been at a higher cost this time, but we did not get that far. The few seconds of euphoric fantasy that I experienced Monday morning obviously quickly gave way to realism.  

Now having been a target of a potential scam on three occasions, I am thinking of an elderly friend many years ago who “believed” such calls and sent money along to the scammers, always hoping that one day she would hit the jackpot, which she never did. 

Modern technology has equipped these fraudulent purveyors of dreamworld possibilities with the tools to go after unsuspecting innocents with abandon. The old adage states that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. That much said, the $18.5 million and the new car would have been nice. Alas, such is life.

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