For about 19 hours last Monday, our dog, Sami, was missing.
She managed to open a screen door and hop a fence at my wife’s parents’ place in Federal Way before taking a frantic stroll through traffic on Pacific Highway.
A very kind woman picked her up and called Sami’s veterinarian when they opened the next morning, and quite soon after that, we were happily reunited.
As we drove north the night before, however, still not knowing how or if we’d find her, my wife received a text message.
“I found Sami,” it read.
I pulled the car over and Briana texted this person back, asking for details. We both knew rather quickly that it was a scam, but there’s still that glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, somebody found our dog and was just reaching out and communicating in an extremely peculiar way.
We cut off the conversation and I had Briana screenshot it and send it along. I wanted to post something to my social media, something likely inappropriate and angry and vitriolic directed at the nameless, faceless person who tried to take advantage of us in a moment of weakness and sadness.
I decided to hold off on doing so and instead, I’m writing this.
Earlier this year, I wrote a story about a webinar held by AARP Washington teaching senior citizens about the dangers of scammers.
International tech support scammers were a primary subject of the talk, and it featured Jim Browning, a favorite YouTuber of mine who has made a name for himself turning the tables on scammers using his computer expertise.
The men and women who scam people and, quite often, elderly people, are simply attempting to get as much money from their targets as possible. It’s not about empathy, it’s about cash, and while we saw through our scammer’s game very quickly, it’s easy to see how it could have gone a different way.
Maybe this person could’ve done a quick Photoshop job on a public photo of Sami to trick us.
Maybe he or she could have looked at an account we accidentally left public on social media in order to glean some minor detail that might ingratiate us to them.
There are all kinds of tactics that web scammers can use, and in a moment of weakness, it’s easy to fall victim to them.
It’s important to stay vigilant. Don’t fall for these scams, and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it might still be, but care must be taken.
Don’t give out your personal information to anybody, and if something seems fishy, it probably is.