In my youth, one of my favorite comic strips was “They’ll Do It Every Time,” drawn by Jimmy Hatlo from 1929 to 1963.
It was a cartoonist’s view of contemporary life, and nobody did it better.
A regular addendum was his “Special Place in Hades” panel, in which he cast opprobrium on some of society’s most egregious social miscreants. The only one that I can remember more than 50 years later was people who discarded their used chewing gum on sidewalks.
I suspect that Hatlo, if he were still alive and writing his strip, might recommend a place in Hades for practitioners of what I call the “Grandson Scam.”
Most scams appeal — if not to outright greed — to a wish to acquire easy money. Most can be spotted by applying the “If it sounds too good to be true” caveat.
Among the most common is the “Pigeon Drop” scam. The scammer approaches his mark and declares that he has found a large amount of money, and if the mark (aka the pigeon) will post a certain amount of “good faith” money, the scammer will share his newly-found booty.
On the face of it, it makes no sense, but it appeals to the “something for (almost) nothing” desire.
There are a smaller number of scams which appeal to a genuine desire to do the right thing; one of the most common is the Grandson Scam.
It’s been tried on me several times (at 78, I’m sure I am in the target group) but having spent a lifetime in journalism, much of it reporting crime news, I recognize it for what it is.
Typically, the caller represents himself as a grandson who has been arrested in a distant location and needs bail money wired to him right away.
My most recent call came a week ago.
The scammer opened with the usual small talk, ending with “How are you today?” I am patient with almost everyone, but junk callers and scammers are the exception.
“What is the purpose of your call?” I asked, in a tone of voice that probably was less than cordial.
“This is your grandson,” the caller said.
“No it’s not,” I replied. “What scam are you running?”
The caller broke the connection, presumably to move on to his next intended victim.
I have written about this scam a time or two before, hoping to alert my fellow grandparents not to fall victim to it.
(S. L. Frisbie is retired. He offers this advice to anyone who receives such a call: If in doubt of its authenticity, call an adult son or daughter or other trusted friend, or law enforcement.)