deza: (Secret master librarians)
[personal profile] deza
A few years back, I was working in a public library near Ft Bragg, in North Carolina. We got our fair share of military folks in. One of the advantages of working the information desk was we had a view out the window of a car wash where the enlisted boys would come to polish their rides. Shirtless. What?! I'm a dirty old lady; never claimed otherwise.

The other half of our regular patronage were people from the community. Often, these would be lower income, less educated folks. Many were older, with little computer experience. I helped people sign up for their very first email accounts at least a couple of times a week.

One lady came to me at the desk just a few days after signing up for email. She was so excited -- turned out she had a long lost cousin who was actually an Ugandan prince. His country was in turmoil, and he needed her help to escape to the US. He was going to wire his fortune to her bank account until he escaped the country, and let her keep $2 million of it for helping him! She just needed my help in figuring out the routing number for her bank so she could send him her account information.

My heart sank for this woman. I recognized the scam. My gmail account filters out dozens of these attempts every month. I showed her the Snopes page debunking it. But she was convinced it was real. He had found her through a site that helped you trace your African origin. She insisted that since that site was reputable, he had to be the real thing. No one would ever try to con a poor woman in semi-rural North Carolina, right?

My job was to fill her information request, so I provided the bank's routing number. I warned her not to send the information. I told her that with those numbers, the scammer could and would empty her accounts.

A few weeks, later, she was back. How dare I let someone take all her money? How could I have allowed that to happen? She was convinced that since she used the library computers to communicate with the scammer, the library (and me personally, since I'd helped her) was behind for the scam and had stolen her money. Even worse, she thought we could get her money back.

I hope she learned not to trust scammers on the Internet after that. I wish I could have given her a wrong routing number, but my job is spreading correct information to patrons. If they choose to do something stupid with it, there's nothing I can do about that.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-15 05:34 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-15 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adoptedwriter.livejournal.com
Oh man! Was there no supervisor to report this to? Hope you didn't get in trouble. AW

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-16 06:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emo-snal.livejournal.com
Oh noe! ):

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-18 04:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roina-arwen.livejournal.com
You did what you could to warn her, but some people just have to learn the hard way!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 12:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zhent.livejournal.com
You have to feel for people like that...

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 06:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] halfshellvenus.livejournal.com
Oh, jeez. Some people just refuse to learn until it's already too late. :(

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 03:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rayaso.livejournal.com
Poor woman, and poor you! I don't see what else you could have done, since you couldn't refuse to help her, since that was your job.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dmousey.livejournal.com
Can lead a horse to water and all that rot! It's a shame that she couldn't accept that she had been the one to make the mistake.(reminds me of my MIL) Some peeps have to always be right. You did what you could! Thanks for sharing. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] labelleizzy.livejournal.com
oh Wow. what a rough decision to have to make.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eska818.livejournal.com
This hits really close to home - my uncle has done similar things, except he thought that the "people" he was "helping" were women that wanted to come to the States and marry him, if only they could get here. It's always made me really sad that he could believe such outlandish stories.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-19 11:09 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-20 02:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suesniffsglue.livejournal.com
Ugh! What a terrible position to be in. You really tried though.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-20 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bleodswean.livejournal.com
GREAT story and really good use of the prompt. Plus shirtless manboys!

Until you actually meet one of these poor souls in the flesh...it's hard to believe they are out there being scammed. But they are. :(

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-20 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] grail76.livejournal.com
I think sometimes that we should have a piece of paper with, "I accept that the librarian has warned me against doing what I proposed to do," very large at the top, requiring a signature, to get some answers we hand out at the desk.
Short of hooking her up with a policeman who dealt in confidence games, I don't know what you might have done to protect her against her own actions.
Edited Date: 2014-08-20 03:44 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-21 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cheshire23.livejournal.com
No one would ever try to con a poor woman in semi-rural North Carolina, right?

Unfortunately, that would be a very good target for a con artist. :(

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-21 09:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karmasoup.livejournal.com
Oh goodness. I wish you'd thought to print up that snopes page and make her sign a copy of it, then take that copy with her. It sucks that people are still taken in by this. What's even more galling is that she had retconned history and completely blanked out the part where you had implicitly warned her NOT to do this. These kinds of things totally make me understand why my 4th grade teacher would occasionally beat her head against a wall, with the saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!"

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-21 05:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mamas-minion.livejournal.com
Yikes, nothing much you could have done in that situation, you tried to talk her out of it but she wouldn't listen. Hopefully most of your other interactions go well.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-21 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jem0000000.livejournal.com
Oh, goodness. There should be a hotline to report these things to -- Western Union maintains one for money orders, but I believe there's a similar government one for bank accounts. It's what you're supposed to do, as a clerk, if someone buys a money order for one of these scams and you can't talk them out of it -- go ahead and sell it (because they'll find a way, if they really want to), but then call the hotline and report the customer's name, which scam it is, and the number of the money order. (I assume you'd report the bank routing info, instead.)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-08-27 04:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] libwitch.livejournal.com
One of my most painful discussions was with a very nice couple who had invested thousands in the husbands education. He was trying to re-enroll in school to finish his counseling certification and was being told he hadn't completed his college degree - because the school he went to wasn't accredited. They were bewildered. But they paid money, and he did work, and he had a degree, and when you looked at the college website there was all these fancy things listed....

But none were accreditation agency, and the college was just gussied up diploma mill, and in the end his degree counted for nothing.

They received an awful education that day in scams, and I felt terrible by the time the day was done.
Page generated Sep. 24th, 2017 03:24 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios