Scamming the scammer — the pretty-named ‘Roseline’

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“Hi Roseline, I’m writing to you about the Covid Compensation Fund after a friend, Mrs Elsie Marais, gave me your number,” my father wrote to the scammer.

“I have no idea what this fund is, but she claims that she noticed my photograph and name on a Fidelity Courier’s list when they delivered her prize — thus suggesting I might also be a prize winner.

“Can you throw any light on this? With best wishes, and so on.”

And thus began the scamming of the scammer.

According to BusinessInsider one in 10 adults in the US falls victim to fraud every year — and that figure is rising.

Most scamsters operate online, and despite ongoing education efforts (and those annoying pop-up warnings from our banks), even the most reasonably-minded people may be taken for a ride, thanks to increasingly sophisticated, well-funded fraud methodology.

Of course, some criminals remain old school — and it’s these who are the most fun to tease.

“Dear, please take note you are required to make a R3,000 delivery payment fee to the Fidelity Courier Group Officials in order to deliver your winning cash prize amount of R1.5m [one million, five hundred thousand rand only] to your destination,” Roseline wrote back.

“Please advise — will you be able to make your delivery payment fee before I proceed with your claim?”

My father replied in the affirmative.

“OK, dear, please advise — will you be making your R3,000 delivery payment fees right now to the Fidelity Courier Group Officials?”

At this point, it seems logical that people are unlikely to be taken in — but statistics show otherwise: an eye-watering $19.7bn (R200bn) was lost to scam calls in the US in 2020 (www.statista.com).

My father generously gave Roseline a little more rope.

“Roseline, can you confirm why I am eligible for this prize?”

“Dear, the compensation is awarded to random Facebook individuals and you are part [sic] of our lucky winners.

“After the confirmation of your delivery payment fees, you will send me your full home address to process with your winning certificate and delivery invoice ahead of the delivery of the winning cash prize amount of R1.5m [one million, five hundred thousand rand only], scheduled to be delivered [to] your destination today by 1pm, it being April 2.”

It being April 2 indeed, but almost 1pm already, we wondered if Roseline would realise his/her/their mistake. But no.

Even when Roseline was told that the EFT payment wasn’t going through, she didn’t give up.

In fact, she became alarmingly helpful and knowledgeable about the South African banking system, displaying intimate knowledge of E-Wallets, potential public holiday pitfalls, how to bypass pesky daily limits.

“Sorry, Roseline,” my father said, “I’ve tried [to EFT] twice now, and it’s saying ‘system currently unavailable’.”

An hour or two went by, and Roseline tried another tack.

“Dear, do you have a Spar store there where you are?”

On Sunday last week, she sent a video (set to music) of thousands of cash notes, neatly stacked on a table, “ready to be delivered by 1pm” three days ago.

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