By Irum Ali
My cell phone rings and when I answer, a pleasant male voice tells me that I have won Rs. 10 lakh cash prize through a lucky draw. A million bells go off in my head, but since I am in a good mood, I decide to humor the poor guy congratulating me on my amazing luck.
Interestingly enough, he tells me to call another number (of the same cellular service provider) in order to get details. Still amused, I call the other number and another male voice begins weaving a fantasy-like scenario for me being the luckiest person alive to have such fortune – along with a promise of fame.
I almost burst out laughing when he asks me if I have any objection in appearing on television to narrate my success story, but yes, by this time, the wheels of fantasy are turning in my head, and I am getting excited by the minute.
But then reality hits. He conveniently adds that I will have to pay a “small” fee in order to cover government taxes. “Only a nominal amount”, he reassures me, “just Rs 10,000 miss, but when the media shows up tomorrow morning at your house to interview you, we will reimburse you double the amount you spend”.
So there is the catch. He wants me to spend 10 grand on scratch cards which I’m not allowed to use until tomorrow morning. Definitely fishy. The alarm bells are back again, ringing in full force inside my brain.
Well, the truth is these telephone scams are more common today than the average toothache, and fast turning into a profession hugely beneficial to such thieves.
Thieves they are because they steal our most secret fantasies and guilty desires and throw them in our faces, forcing us to come to terms with our deprivations. Thus having triggered the desire for the forbidden fruit these schemers use cleverly formulated speeches and moving words to draw us into their net.
Not surprisingly, many people fall prey to such vultures in pursuit of long forgotten dreams of being rich and having an easy life: even I couldn’t help my imagination spreading like a wildfire when I was offered all that money – in my mind I had already been around the world in eighty days, staying in the best hotels, travelling in the most luxurious cars and eating the most exotic of foods.
But of course, I sadly came crashing back to reality, but luckily enough without having to experience the trauma of such a horrifying fraud; many other people however, may not have been so lucky and fallen victim to such frauds.
So the best thing to do next time one gets a call offering millions of rupees (or any other currency) in a jackpot or lucky draw, or you might be offered with air tickets, Ummrah package, job or anything – I would suggest the following:
- Take a deep breath, shut your mind to the possibility of such a thing ever happening;
- Make sure you don’t give out your particulars for security reasons; and
- Pull a smart one over the person who is trying to make a fool out of you: vent, abuse, shout, insult, or anything else that makes you feel better…
But if none of the above actually happens, hang up, and go back to your normal life. (Informing your operator about such scammers can do a little good to other Mobile users as well)