2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: 434
Last week I received a telephone call ostensibly from one of my sons who sounded terrible. He said – in a very low voice – that he had been involved in an automobile collision in Fresno, after which he had been arrested and taken to jail. So could I please call a Mr. Jones at the telephone number he gave me so that Mr. Jones could arrange for him to be released on bail. The first thing I did was to telephone my son to see if he would answer the phone, which he did not. So, deeply concerned and with my credit card in hand, I called Mr. Jones, but it went to an answer machine. Later a man identifying himself as Mr. Jones called me back, filled in some details and said that if I sent him the bail money it would be fully refunded in the course of time. But when I happened to tell him I had been a trial court judge and I was familiar with the system the phone went dead. Then when I called him back a recording said that there was no such number. Right then I called my son once more and this time he answered the phone – knowing nothing about any of this. So I had been lucky not to have been fleeced by this scam.
I have thought a lot about this incident since that time, and wondered what I should have done better to protect myself from being defrauded. Calling my son right away was a good idea, and had he answered the phone the scam would have been made clear. So I was unlucky that he had not answered. But even before that I should have had my wits about me during the initial phone call “from jail.” In any unusual situation like this we should program ourselves to slow down and be skeptical! For example, I should have asked my “son” some personal questions that no scammer would likely know, such as “What was your mother’s maiden name? Or what is the name of the first street we lived on when we moved to Orange County? Questions like that would have verified the identity of the caller – one way or the other. Secondly, and I am embarrassed to say so, I was way too quick to be ready to give my credit card information to this “voice on the phone.” I should have taken some time to think about and consider the situation. Scammers often are smart, and use emotion and psychology about our love of family to defraud us, so we should not be hasty in our responses. Being scammed could happen to any of us just like it almost happened to me.
Another story for the week: Sally Mulligan of Coral Springs, Florida decided to take one of the jobs that most Americans are not willing to do. She applied for a job in a lemon grove but, since she had worked both as a social worker and a school teacher, she seemed to be far too qualified for the job. Confronted with her background, the foreman frowned and said: “I have to ask you, have you had any actual experience picking lemons?” “Well, as a matter of fact, I have,” she said. “I’ve been divorced three times, owned two Chryslers and even voted for Hillary.” She starts work in the morning.
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President