I received a call last week that originated from the small island nation of Jamaica. Normally I have a policy of not answering numbers that are not in my contact list, but I made an exception for this one. You see my wife and I were married in Jamaica just short of 10 years ago, so I thought “Maybe the resort was calling to offer us a discounted stay for our anniversary?” Not likely, but what else could they be calling about? To my surprise they were calling about $2.5 million dollars!
By now most of us are aware of the Nigerian email scam. Send someone a Western Union money order in Nigeria and they will wire you millions of dollars left to you by some dead relative you’ve never met or even heard of. Well, this was basically the same thing but they actually called my cell phone number and talked to me directly to run their scam. Bold, I thought.
So bold in fact I decided to entertain the man and play along. The caller with a thick Jamaican accent proceeded to explain to me that he had $2.5 million dollars that I needed to claim. He told me taxes would have to be paid on the money, but not to worry because all of the taxes except $399 was already covered for me. I continued to play along and got very excited about this and asked for more information about how I could pay this $399 to get my $2.5 million. The caller said I just needed to go to Wal-Mart and purchase a money order through Western Union and make it payable to Shawana Tradey Jamaica W I. I was amazed and ecstatically told him so. Once the money order was received I would then receive a package at my door. The thought of $2.5 million dollars arriving in a discrete briefcase held by a man in a suit and black glasses flashed through my mind and further fueled my excitement on the phone. Here’s where it got really interesting. The caller continues to tell me that Donald Trump is somehow connected to this money and that he is calling from Las Vegas. I thought heck…you want to make this bizarre and bring in the Donald then I’m going to one up him. I told him “Oh my goodness! The Donald is my uncle! Can we get him on the phone to discuss this and work out the details?” “No, you cannot call Donald Trump!” came the swift reply along with a quick change of the subject. “Please go now to Wal-Mart. You go now.”
At this point I had gotten this fine Jamaican so excited, I figured it was time to let him know he was not hooking this big fish today. I asked him very nicely if he would “kindly tell me how much income you make an hour?” By the dead silence on the other end I could tell the wheels were really spinning with wonder, so I finished with “I’m just trying to figure out how much of your time and money I have wasted listening to your scam?” The caller was bewildered. How did this go so wrong so fast? He hung up on me and then in less than 30 seconds called me back three times in a row. I declined to answer this time and have not heard from him again.
Whether it be a phishing email, a phone call scam or a Trojan dropped on your network to run amok later…these guys are after all of us. Not only are they attacking large businesses but they also attack small businesses attempting to steal and hold your data ransom. They even work their way right down to the individual. This reminds us all that we need to be vigilant with what emails we open and links we click….next time the exploit might not be so fun to play along with.