A COLLEAGUE’S son and his girlfriend went out of town recently with friends. About an hour later, his mother and his girlfriend’s mother received similar text messages asking for mobile phone loads s o they could call because the couple got involved in an accident.
The messages from unknown numbers said the couple had used their friends’ phones so they could inform their parents about their predicament.
The girl’s mother immediately sent P300 worth of phone load. My colleague, being a journalist, was skeptical. She called her son who, of course, denied there was an accident and was, in fact, having a good time.
After several cases last year, when many of their clients were conned into sending phone loads, telecommunication companies adopted a new procedure to reduce the chances of clients being victimized. This requires the sender to confirm that he/she is indeed passing on load to a certain number.
The mother of the girlfriend of my colleague’s son was in such a panic that she did not take the necessary precautions. At least, she lost only P300.
This incident shows that scam artists have turned to mobile dugo-dugo because the traditional scam is not working anymore. One would assume that with all the stories, new incidents would be extremely rare.
But a recent story about the well-educated daughter of two military officers handing over more than P100,000 in cash and jewelry to a stranger after being told her mother had an accident showed that even people who are supposed to know better still get scammed.
In the United States, there is a “granny scam,” in which con artists call elderly people, claiming to be the victims’ grandchildren. The scammers tell their victims that they were involved in serious accidents and need money for bail, fine or hospital bills.
The con artists would tell the elderly people they were asking for their help because they did not expect their parents to be as understanding of their predicament.
Grandparents, even in the US, are often more indulgent and less judgmental than parents. And since they rarely see their grandchildren, they are happy to somehow help them out in certain situations. Money is usually sent through a remittance center.
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail [email protected]