Monday, July 22 2024 - 2:39 AM
older woman on computer
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Scams and Deceit

The email came to me supposedly from my long-time friend—advanced age, many medical issues, and caretaking. We had recently exchanged lengthy email greetings, so I knew she was in precarious problems with her health and her husband’s health. It was her email name and address. She wondered if I could be of help to her, to send a gift card to her niece, and she would repay me. I knew she couldn’t function well on a telephone, and she could not see well either. We live about 45 minutes apart, still under Covid concerns, and I had just had a cold, or I would have delivered this request to her home. It seemed like a bit of money, but I had known her for years, and she was special to me.

So I bit, even though the following few email exchanges for the arrangement seemed a little confusing. Her “niece’s” email address was also strange, but I reasoned some young people have strange emails. A small alarm had started in my mind, but I wanted to help this dear, senior friend. She didn’t tell me what date to send the Amazon birthday gift card, so I sent it that morning.

Victim of a Scam

When my husband got home from his office that morning, I told him about the request and my choice to respond; he immediately suggested that I contact my bank. Then it jelled in my brain, and I knew, I really knew I had been scammed. Suddenly all the little quirks in the exchanges and other symptoms made sickening sense.

I nervously contacted my bank customer service, spent ten precious minutes on hold, and then found out there was not much I could do to stop this crook from spending my money. And it wasn’t just my hard-earned money; it was all the emotions that go along with being scammed and my elevated blood pressure.

I thought I was too smart to get caught in one of these setups because I had avoided so many others! (I have a graduate degree in studying human behaviors, including a class in such things as sociopaths!)

Probably, I am becoming one of those “poor old ladies.” I felt vulnerable—my reward for wanting to help someone.

I can rationalize that it’s not my money anyway; perhaps this awful person might need it more than me? (A little crazy, perhaps.)

I wanted to scream or cry.

I felt stupid, ashamed, disgusted, angry, and sad.

The Face of Deceit

And then the crook dared to send me another email later asking for more gift cards, which I didn’t finish reading and instantly deleted to Spam. I wanted to curse at him/her and let them know that I won’t be fooled again by their scam! Instead, I called my friend’s retirement community since she couldn’t hear well on the phone, and sure enough, others had reported getting the scam email. Someone was helping her change things. My good friend’s name had been used to hurt her friends. This is the face of deceit, evil, and robbery in so many ways on this earth. Preying on the good intentions of others, taking what is not theirs; using someone else’s humble identity to do the dirty work.

When Jesus spoke about events before the coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:12 and 24: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold… For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”

I may become more distrustful than ever going forward. And that is part of the harm of evil. We become more suspicious of others’ “needs” and less willing to part with what we believe we own. We doubt our ability to judge, or we make lots of knee-jerk judgments. Or for some people, they start to think, “Why didn’t I think of that!?” Those with clever minds and God-given brains use them to abuse rather than help society. Callousness. We all lose because of deceit.

Some Hope

The apostle Peter shares some hope with us: “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” (1 Peter 3:13-15, NIV). I’m hanging onto that promise of blessing.

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

  1. Have you been a victim of a scam or robbery? What happened to your feelings of safety and trust?
  2. The Ten Commandments speak of misusing the Lord’s name (Exodus 20:7). How might that happen?

If you liked this, you might also like  Stay Away from Fools | Scams Have Hit an All-time High: Here’s What Christians Can Do About It 

Karen Spruill writes from Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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