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A Scam Phone Call
by Tiffany
January 6, 2015


On a muggy July afternoon in Taipei five years ago, a sharp phone ring startled me when I was alone immersing myself in design work in the cool air-conditioned room. Unbelievably, a police officer connected with a law-abiding citizen like me. I even had no car accident record. “What for?” I suspected. I’d heard of the millions of fraudsters pretending to be police officers or bank clerks at that time; so, certainly, I assumed that it was just a scam at first. But later, I became kind of confused.

“A gang of fraudsters were caught last month. Have you heard the news?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I replied.

Reading newspapers and watching TV news is as vital as meals for me. I was quite confident that I didn’t miss any events.

“We find your name on their dummy accounts,” he explained seriously, “so, you must come over for an investigation.”

Suddenly, I felt like to be struck by lightning, and then the thunder crashed above my head. I remembered Peggy, one of my friends, received a summons because her Yahoo account was stolen by fraudsters, and the victim accused the account user--her. Just then, anxiousness and anger burst inside me— “Damn! Why does it happen to me? How did those gangsters steal my personal information? Did a certain greedy guy in the customer service of a supermarket or some other stores or the bank sell it? Although I’m innocent, it’s setting me into trouble. What has this world become?” Gazing at the blazing sunshine outside, I felt chilly.

I indignantly complained about the current social issues to the police officer. He agreed and said that the police had been working hard on criminal cases. Afterward, my long rant seemed to make the police officer lose his patience.

“Hey lady, I believe you, but we’re going to lock your bank account due to the process,” he emphasized.

“Bank account?” A thread of suspicion like a bullet shot through my head. “Why I didn’t get an official written document first, and why they informed me only by phone?” I wondered.

“And please make an appointment with the procurator.” he continued. He gave me a name and the phone number.

At that time, the doorbell rang. I made a timely excuse and promised I would call to the National Police Agency to confirm. Of course, I did not reveal any of my account information to him. I called 165 (the Anti Scam toll-free number) instead of the phone number the guy offered me. Finally I got to know that many victims had reported similar cases.

Fortunately, I lost nothing. Afterward, I cut most of my VIP/credit cards and retained only the most reliable and necessary ones. I won’t easily fill in a membership form anymore.

Later, I talked about my experience to all my friends, and heard different stories from each of them. Some received an overdue payment reminder SMS from a “credit card centre”; some were informed that they made a “wrong payment” for the website purchase; some were threatened for their children’s ransom by “kidnappers.” Various scams have been improved by the fraudsters day by day. It’s not just only “Congratulation! You’re the winner!” kind of trick anymore. Besides, a student, a mother, seniors, even a businessman, a doctor, a professor, anyone could be trapped! 

Criminals nowadays might weave a web of intrigue according to humanity, such as anxiousness, fear or sympathy. Keeping a calm and clear mind is the best help to reduce any possible harm as well as to prevent troubles in such a jungle.