Wednesday, 27 May 2009

PHONE SCAMS

The female voice on the phone sounded frantic.
" Your cousin Alice , is in hospital , on admission for injuries sustained in a motor accident today . She gave us your phone number . Please call 0908------ , urgently for full details ". Although , I knew no "cousin Alice , I was alarmed enough to call the premium rate telephone number , immediately after I received the phone message. I thought, maybe, it was someone who knew me and she needed help . It was after I had been told to phone another number, then another and then told to "hold on to be connected to the ward manager " for upward of ten minutes , that the penny dropped !
That was about four years ago. Then phone scams were common place.
Lots of people had different stories about some wild phone calls they had received informing them that they have won something , REAL BIG.
Like , they had won a world cruise or a European lottery , competitions , holidays abroad , or that you have qualified for some credit card promotion or you have won hundreds or thousands of pounds (how large the sum depended on the criminal's sense of humour and imagination !)
After you had been informed of your wonderful windfall , then you were asked to call a number to hear the "full details" of how to collect your prize.
If you did call that number, you were likely to listen to a long recorded message or answer some long , winding list of questions whilst being charged at premium rate for the call .
Like the "cousin Alice" call I received.
Apart from the "cousin Alice" saga ,in those days, I remember that many people including I, had received scam calls that I had won a Mediterranean cruise for two ,that I had won £2500 , £950 , a car ,or a dinner for four at the London Savoy , an oriental herbal slimming wonder drug worth £500; for free! , a three - nights holiday for two in Disneyland Paris , that I had an insurance claim of £800 against me for a traffic offence / accident which caused serious injuries to someone and vehicular damage , and so on ! Each caller had, requested nicely , that I sent money ranging from £20 to £100 for "processing and administrative costs " and , or , I call a premium rate number for "further details "or else , kiss the "largess", goodbye !
Usually , I would hang up on such callers .But , out of curiosity , I returned the call for the £950 claim . The man who answered said it was a genuine offer. He congratulated me warmly, because , you see , my number had come up in a customers phone number lottery . I needed to send £30 , urgently , or else I would forfeit the prize . I thanked him for his kindness and for calling me to inform me . I insisted that they should send me the cheque for £950 , minus the £30 processing fee . At this point, the pleasant voice turned very hostile and he cut the conversation short!
End of story .

Internet scams are the latest plagues and are more wide spread.
On the Internet, are offered all sorts of stuff from "free downloads", to Jackpots-"You have won a Chevrolet for being the 1000th viewer!", e-books, DVDs on "How to make £5000.00 a week while staying at home!", Miracle anti wrinkle creams, Fat-bursting Slimmers Complete work-out DVD, Bust or Penis Enlargement Creams, Hair-growth creams, Networking Sales , Mega -marketing sales and the list is endless.
There will always be people eager to take advantage of the growing army of unemployed people by promising them huge incomes from some self-employed marketing deals.
The bottom line is: the greedy , the unwary and the naïve will always fall victim for any scam. Therein lies the oppurtunity for criminals to attempt and succeed with financial scams .

It seems phone scams have resurged and increased recently, with the economic crunch.People have been complaining about receiving all sorts of funny phone calls about winning something or being asked to buy something.
Someone I know received a "World-cruise notification" phone call, two weeks ago. She was asked to pay £20, only, for processing her win, by giving her bank card details on the phone , within 48 hours or else she would lose the offer!
She promised to think about it and the male caller promised to call back.
I suggested that if he did call back, she should tell him that she wanted to meet him and see his gorgeous face. That she would pay the £20 only after the man making the call accepted her invitation to take him out for dinner.
He did call back next day, demanding the money.
He declined the dinner invitation citing company policy not to mix business with pleasure. Smart guy.

At the height of phone scams ,thousands of people and businesses in the United Kingdom had lost substantial amounts of money to phone scams.
Criminals can get hold of the most closely guarded information about people's phone numbers and personal details like names and addresses.
Their most likely sources are : through the staff of phone companies , information gathered from data banks containing consumers' details and statistics,through " hacking " into cellular switches and corporate switchboards and through "cloning " or "hijacking mails" to collect people's phone numbers.
Affected persons can seek redress by complaining against fraudulent companies to the I.C.S.T.I.S. (the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services). This body can investigate complaints and has the power to penalise erring companies and recommend them for criminal prosecutions .

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

CHILLING OUT

Bank holiday weekend with gorgeous weather .
Just what we prayed for; just what we needed for a relaxing weekend break!
We had loads of fun ; shopping ,sight-seeing, long drives and Al-fresco dining .
Ended the long weekend yesterday with a sumptuous dinner and refreshing cocktails .

It is barbecue season and there were many BBQ-parties this weekend.
But the shopping malls , all over London, as usual, were the crowd pullers.
Shopping in this economic climate has become a whirlwind of pleasant "deals" and mega-reductions.
It is indeed a shopper's paradise, nowadays.
Most stores are offering 50%price cuts and on some goods 75% reductions.
One is spoilt for choice because there are so many options to choose from at reduced prices, as the major stores in London compete for shoppers.
Problem is; the reduced prices encourage one to buy more, so you end up buying much more than you planned for.
On Saturday, it was a delightful time as we got beautiful, high quality clothes, hand bags, shoes, cosmetics and perfumes at reduced prices,some at half price, even within the opulent section of Westfield Shopping Centre in White City , West London.
It seems that price reductions are not enough any more to lure big -spenders .In order to out-do each other, shops are giving away , for free, gifts and other products.
Which is just as well. So bring it on.

Marks and Spencer sprung a big surprise during the week.
As part of their 125th anniversary celebrations ,they offered a one-penny sale on selected items!
So , top-quality lingerie which should cost an average of £15.00 each, were on sale for 1p each , for 4 days. On a first-come , first -served basis.
Well, needless to say,it was once in a long time offer so there was a massive crowd scrambling for stuff. There were long queques in major M & S stores, all over London ,up to Thursday evening.
M& S knew the stampede this offer would cause. I guess that was why they fixed the sale during working hours. I couldn't be there , so, some of my friends who were off-duty were kind enough to get me dozens of lingerie and other items for me and my family, for under £20.00! It was simply unbelievable.
I am sure everybody is hoping and looking forward to another such surprise sale from M & S,in the near future!
It will be a fun-filled summer,indeed.

Sitting Pretty

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