Archive for July 24th, 2012

Today Is Hug-A-Phone-Scammer Day

- July 24th, 2012

 

I wrote this late Monday night. When I got up Tuesday morning I re-read it and thought, “Nah, that’s too harsh. It doesn’t do anybody any good.” So I didn’t post it.

 

Then, in the normal course of my day Tuesday, I passed two radar traps in areas that had no children, no pedestrians, no houses of any kind — just abnormally low speed limits on connector roads feeding off higher-speed arteries. 

 

Of course there were plenty of flies for the radar-cop spiders to catch. But those hapless drivers nailed with speeding tickets weren’t endangering anyone, they weren’t doing anything realistically excessive, they were not in any way, shape or form being Bad Guys.

 

But what really got me was the smug look of self-satisfaction I saw on the faces of two of those radar cops as they handed out tickets. Did those cops really think they were benefiting society, making the world a better place or even truly, honestly earning their salaries as justice heroes? If they did, they were sorely mistaken. They were being the Sheriff of Nottingham’s paid men, not the Lone Ranger or even Officer Krupke (that’s a West Side Story allusion, by the way). 

 

So I decided to post this piece after all.

 

 

Isn’t every day hug-a-phone-scammer day?

 

It must be. Based on the number of dial-a-dummy/dialed-by-a-computer phone calls I get ALMOST EVERY FREAKING DAY, Canada’s self-inflating law enforcement agencies obviously consider massive telephone fraud epidemics conducted by highly organized crime organizations to be a low priority on the crime-fighting front.

 

Oh, I know — law-and-order apologists of every stripe will rise up on their hind legs and howl about how stretched and eviscerated Toronto’s — Canada’s? you pick the jurisdiction — police resources are in their never-ending fight against crime and bad attitude.

 

I’m actually picking this particular terrible time — when Toronto is still reeling from gang gun violence and the deaths of innocents — to talk about this because (surprise, surprise) I’m still seeing plenty of Toronto cops with radar guns hanging out at their favourite speed traps while the almighty wizards of Oz prattle on about stepping up the war against crime.

 

So, obviously, Toronto Police have their priorities in line. Those priorities just don’t happen to coincide with mine.

 

I think a sleazebag conning a grandmother over the telephone is a bigger threat to our social order and way of life than somebody pulling off the Don Valley Parkway at 64 km/h instead of 50 km/h.

 

(And just so no hyperthyroid cop has to run an illegal check on me, I haven’t been stopped for speeding in several years.)

 

It may be harder, more time consuming and less profitable, but in the long run I do think society would be better served by our precious police resources being devoted to the very real plague of organized telephone con operations now infesting the GTA instead of plumping city treasury coffers with trophy kills of deer-in-the-headlights traffic violators.

 

Don’t tell me radar cops and telephone-fraud cops are apples and oranges: If the telephone fraud outfits can train hamburger-flippers to con grandparents on the telephone, surely we can train radar cops to stop them. Can’t we?

 

And it is a serious problem. I sometimes get not one but two or even three phone calls in an evening from knumbknuts who want to rip me off. No, I’m not paranoid. How many evenings in a row would “Microsoft” or “your computer manufacturer” want to talk to you about a problem that requires one to give a complete stranger details about your Internet activities, sign-on and password?

 

The dumbest one — and hence this diatribe — was Monday night when someone called me from “the government ecology service programme.” I didn’t even bother finding out what kind of scam they were pulling — probably just a home insulation ripoff — because it was too lame to even bother sneering at.

 

But, sadly, even though no real government body in Canada will ever call you and identify themselves as “the government ecology service programme,” it will seem real enough to some people that they will listen to the come-on and a small proportion of those listeners will actually be coaxed into doing something that they will soon come to regret.

 

But that’s the way these operations work. They don’t care if most people see through the sloppy guise because the only people they really want to talk to are the really gullible ones. It’s a numbers game. The faster the non-suckers clear out the better. So (if I have the time) I like to keep the scammers on the line as long as possible, just to waste their scamming time.

 

The thing that bothers me the most is the increase over the past year in the number of these calls. It means Toronto has been targeted as a safe market for these maggots to operate. Would they be operating on the scale they are if there was any fear of repercussion?

 

If I had any kind of tech savvy at all, I’d track the buggers down myself — but I don’t. I’m a techno-idiot. But then I don’t go out and issue traffic tickets either, do I? Is it too much to ask that the Toronto Police Service track down the phone fraudsters that seem to be operating with complete impunity in this city? Organized criminals who apparently have not the slightest fear of having their obviously profitable business interrupted by something so alien as law and order and protection of the innocent?

 

It can’t be a big secret.

 

Surely plenty of Toronto cops are getting the same kind of shady phone calls I’m getting. Or don’t the telephone fraudsters call numbers in Oakville, Thornhill and Vaughan?

 

If anyone from the Toronto Police Service wants to call me on this, feel free. You should have my number. Everyone else seems to.