Thursday, December 4, 2008

O (evil) CANADA!

Just when you think the world can't get worse, it suddenly does.

And there's nothing more emotionally devastating than shattered trust.

Nothing worse than finding out that your honest neighbors, those people you trusted, are scoundrels.

I'm an American talking about Canada, people! I'm talking about our supposedly honest hard-working neighbors to the north. Canada -- the country that only has seven eight ten provinces, compared to America's fifty states.

And we Americans still can't be bothered to remember the name of even one province-thingy. Whatever.

And hey, hang on! They've got those three territories too... let's see. Maybe Toronto? Is that one?

Well, never mind about all of that, because evil Canadians are trying to steal money from your grandma. For real! No earthly point in memorising their map now, those finks! Unless you want to stash that information away, for later, when we go invade Canada and get your Grandma's money back.

About three months ago, my mother got a phone call.

"Helloooo?" she answered, in her quavery voice.

"Grandma? It's your favourite grandson!"

"Tarquin Junior * ! Is that you?"

"Yes, Grandma, it's me, Tarquin Junior. Hey, something awful has happened!"

"Oh, no! What is it?"

"Grandma, I've been in a car accident in London, Ontario, and the rental car we were in was totaled! We rolled it a couple of times, but we're okay."

"Oh my goodness! Were you hurt?"

"No, Grandma, but here's the problem."

Then Tarquin explained that the rental car owner was demanding $10,000 to resolve the matter. Tarquin said his friend agreed to pay half, and he, Tarquin, was to pay the other half, $5000. He wondered whether he could have a loan of $5,000. He also needed an additional $200 to pay for a hotel room and to return home.

The $5,200 was to be sent to him at Walmart in London, Ontario via a Moneygram. My mother would need to give the $5000 to the Walmart Moneygram office which would then give her a referral number. Tarquin indicated he would call back later to get that referral number so that he could obtain the $5,200 from Walmart.

My mom said it would take some time to get the money because she had a doctor's appointment and would have to get money from the bank afterward. She said it might take a couple of hours. The person said he would call back at 2:30 pm or so.

When my dad arrived home about 2:15 pm he found a note from my mom, saying she had withdrawn $5,200 from the bank but left it behind rather than carrying it to her appointment. She suggested the two of them could go to the bank, and then Walmart, after she got home.

She also said that Tarquin would be calling about 2:30 pm.

Well, no call came. My mom arrived home about 3 pm and my parents talked about the matter.

My father said it was odd that Tarquin had not called back as promised. He asked about injuries, but my mom had few details. This too struck him as odd. And then my dad began wondering about insurance, whether Tarquin's car insurance would cover the accident. If so, the insurance companies would handle the matter. Meanwhile, my mom remembered that Tarquin ordinarily refers to her as "Oma", not "Grandma".

My father phoned his insurance people for advice. They suggested he call Tarquin's phone number to verify that he had made the call and that he was in the accident. The insurance woman added that she had just had seen a newspaper article about a scam that sounded like this one. My dad phoned Tarquin to ask about the accident, how he was, and whether the car was totaled.

"Opa, what are you talking about? I'm in a class here at Drake. I've never been to Canada!"

My father phoned the local police who arrived and took down information.

But before they arrived, the phone rang again, with the voice asking for Grandma.

"She's not back."

"When will she be back?"

"In an hour or so."

When my parents explained the story to the police, they noted that the sheriff's office had already that day received 20 complaints about this kind of call. And the morning newspaper carried a story describing how some local man had gotten such a call about a car accident involving his grandson in Canada, and he had forwarded $20,000 to help out the grandson. Of course, he soon realized he was duped.

One more phone call came the next morning asking for "Grandma". My father told the caller that her grandson never used that name to address her.

"Maybe I have the wrong number."

"I know the game you're playing, Buster ** , and I've reported this matter to the police."

With that, the phone receiver clicked down. And that was the end of the story.

Except it's not quite the end of the story, because it happened again yesterday, but this time to the other set of grandparents. We got a call last night from Mr D's brother, who was upset that our oldest son, Peregrine *** , was trying to weasel $3500 out of the grandparents.

We explained that this was the Grandparents Scam and that Canada is the new Nigeria, crime-wise. Fortunately, they didn't send any money. They were only out the cost of a long-distance call to Poland.

And here we thought they were just calling to wish Mr D **** a happy birthday. Oh well.

What is this world coming to?

* Tarquin Junior. Not his real name, when italicised. But when not italicised, is his real name. Don't be confused. Everything I say is a lie.

** Buster. Pretty sure this is not criminal's real name.

*** Peregrine. Is his real name. Or not? I can't remember. Will go check birth certificates later.

**** But for sure, Mr D's first name is Octavio. I do remember that!



Christine said...

Hehee! This way you will be able too get around better when you plan your invasion.

New Brunswick
Prince Edward Island and Labrador
Nova Scotia
British Columbia

North West Territories

I am glad that your dad caught on. That would have been disastrous. It is sad that somebody would do something like that.

expateek said...

Hey Christine, thanks for the insider info! Now I just need a map and the plan is afoot!

I was talking to a Japanese friend of mine here in Warsaw, and she said this has been a well-known scam in Japan for at least 10 years. (You know those Japanese, always so fashion-forward...)

Yes, I'm really glad they figured it out. So many people don't and then are too embarrassed to even report it to the police. So awful.

Crooks just have no scruples.

Anonymous said...

Bloody Canadians, you just can't trust the sneaky maple-syrup-eating buggers, My sister was born there and she's thoroughly evil.

By the way, check out this is not the first time the US has thought about sorting out the evil empire of the north.

I've heard of a similar scam here in Poland, only it involves Poles living abroad phoning the elderly relatives of people they knew back home pretending to be their grandchildren.

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