Using Scammers as Bait

My guest blog is over at Devon Ellington’s Ink in My Coffee today. Go on over and check it out.

Here’s a new one – I received a message on my phone last week, a bit convoluted, but basically the caller was asking about an organization I was part of (?) and mentioned he wanted to contribute. The only organization I could think of was the one in which the question of the legitimacy of my client reached legal proportions. Not wanting someone to travel down the wrong path, I called the number back. Before I did so, I checked the number out – a lot. I went into that call with a boatload of skepticism and suspicion. For all I knew, it could be the same dude.

I explained without implicating – the press release in question was for a now-defunct (thanks to legal authorities) foundation that may or may not have held a legitimate purpose, but under the guidance of someone with a rather questionable past and now an arrest record. I told sketchy details of the alleged activity, and started to thank him for calling. That’s when he decided to start “selling” me on HIS foundation and HIS good deeds. Puh LEEZ.

It’s a first. I do enjoy my work because of the firsts I experience, but some, well, I could easily live without. This one is in that “live without” category, for this guy was piggybacking off the “shameful” (as he put it) behavior of this now-defunct organization and yes, there he was, asking me to donate my time and money to his unknown organization. Sorry, pal. Your story, your pitch, was WAY too familiar and hey, I don’t care about you or it. Do I sound heartless? Good. Perhaps then you and your kind will stop pestering me and wasting my time and worse, tying me into your schemes that smell badly from the outset. Want to know the best part? He’d forgotten that in his initial call, he asked to donate to MY cause (perhaps pay my bills? I don’t know). That he quickly switched to how I could help him – yep. Red flag waving wildly in front of me. At this point, I was figuring him to be about as legitimate as crop circles.

To alleviate his talking, I had a phone meltdown – “Hello? Are you there? Hello? Hello?” Click. Yes, he called back. Several times. Thank God for voice mail.

So if you’re reading, dude, prove to me you’re legit and we’ll talk. Until then, I’ll wait. I’ve got nothing to lose by ignoring your urgency – your fire is not my emergency. Rather, your fire feels a lot like a third-degree burn you’re intent on inflicting upon me. No thanks.

I knew that experience with the arrested client would eventually come in handy.

What lesson in your writing past has come in handy?

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