I finally got scammed.
It happened six weeks ago while I was scrolling through Facebook. There they were. The shoes I was looking for – and they were half price!
So without thinking I whipped out my credit card and paid the $54.50 (postage included) for light grey, size 8 and a half leather slip ons. An email stated my payment had been received and my package was on its way.
Things started to go wrong when the website disappeared. Then the exact same Facebook ad appeared under three different banners. The following day the ad appeared again.
The manager at the Commonwealth bank was very understanding.
“This thing happens all the time,” she explained sympathetically. “This morning an elderly couple paid for a puppy that never turned up.”
Australians have been scammed $2 billion. That’s a 2 with 9 zeros after it.
Some of the stories are heartbreaking. An elderly, retired teacher from NSW received an email pleading for help. His good friend was stuck in Lebanon after being rushed to hospital. If he paid for a ticket to fly home he would reimburse everyone as soon as he arrived. I received the same email but had the common sense to pick up the phone and discovered my mutual friend had been hacked.
Here is the good news. 5% of Australians will appear before a magistrate at some time in their life. That means 95% of Australians can be trusted. In fact, a majority of people will trust despite all evidence to the contrary.
Ten years ago I met a finance broker who featured prominently in an “A current affair” story. He laughed when he told me about his first run in with the media. He was going door to door around the back streets of Traralgon selling overpriced cladding. A couple recognized him from the show.
“What did you think?” he asked warily.
“I thought Michael Willisee treated you shamefully, young man,” they said.
And then he sold them some overpriced cladding.
I have learnt my lesson. From now on I will follow these simple rules.
1. I will check out the shops before I go online. If it costs more, at least, I have given a local person a job.
2. If I don’t recognize the number on my phone I will google it before I call them back.
Last week I discovered a call centre with 154 complaints against its name.
3. If something is too good to be true then it’s too good to be true.
4. Finally, I will continue to trust people. However, I will stick with companies that deserve my trust even if it means I pay a few cents more.