A few notes on ‘Secrets of the Scammers’

Watching a Channel 4 programme titled Secrets of the Scammers, I really do not know why people still fall victim to the three-card Monte scam, as it must be one of the oldest tricks in the world. I have seen that trick being performed – if performed is the right word here – in many cities, and in particular I remember it being very prevalent in Berlin in the early 2000s, though it is certainly true that I have only noticed the presence of scammers on Westminster Bridge and in front of County Hall in the past year or so.

There were other types of scams mentioned in the programme, such as scammers impersonating police officers, ‘courier fraud’ whereby scammers pretending from the bank ring up to tell the marks that their credit card is compromised and that a courier will pick up a card, and card readers being attached to London Underground ticket machines. The programme also featured the activities of scam baiters, who pretend to be taken in by the scam with the aim of wasting the scammers’ time, as well as ridiculing them.

While I doubt I will be putting down £50 on three-card Monte, and I am becoming somewhat paranoid about card readers on cash machines, I have had some cold calls recently that I suspect were scam attempts and I nearly fell to them. Though sometimes, they can be a bit absurd: someone recently contacted me insisting that I was involved in a minor car accident. It was either a really desperate ambulance-chasing law firm, or possibly some sort of scam.

There will be more cases of more varied types of scams in the future, and I might find it difficult to find the line where I stop being vigilant and becoming paranoid. One thing in my favour is that I do not have much money to be deprived of, though could it be possible that someone has stolen my identity and was indeed involved in a minor car accident?