It’s not a part of the job I enjoy, but often the library is one last place to learn about the latest scam. It’s happened with Ebay, it’s happened with online banks, and now, with email.
A very tall, roundish man bustled up to the desk in a great hurry. “Ma’m, I’d like a list of the closest branch of these banks, anywhere within say, three hours of here.”
I looked at the list. I didn’t recognize the names of any of them. I went to anywho.com and entered a bank name – the nearest one was three states away. “No, that’s too far,” he said sadly.
I tried the next one, same problem. Finally, third try, I found one in the next state, maybe four hours from here. His face lit up, and he almost ran from the desk, ecstatic, to the pay phone.
I saw him slam the receiver down and come purposefully back to my desk, head down and mumbling under his breath. “They’re just trying to steal my joy, they’re NOT going to steal my joy,” he said.
“Can I help you, sir?”
“They won’t open an account for me. Could you look for another bank for me?” He handed me the list, and it was an email – from Nigeria. Asking him to open a bank account with a small amount of money in it so they could add more. He was a long lost cousin…I’m sure we’ve all received a similar one.
I pretended to look at it, and wondered how to word my response, so as to be heard and not lumped in with the joy-stealers.
“Sir, I wonder if you and I might be related.”
His eyebrows shot straight up. As I said, he was very tall. He was also African American. I am very short and white. “What? Why?” he asked.
“I received a very similar email to this one,” I said. “Mine was a scam – they just wanted me to open an account so they could steal the money. They never intended to add any more to it at all.”
He was still surprised. “An email like this one? Are you sure?”
“Yes, sir – we even got one here at work in our department email, very similar to this one. I’m afraid it is another scam.”
He was hesitating. I could see him weighing it in his mind. “Maybe that is why the bank wouldn’t open an account for you, sir. Too many other people that have gotten ripped off have complained. Would you still like me to look up another bank for you?”
He stopped. Slowly, he took his list back, and said very sadly, “No – no, I don’t think so. Thank you for your help.”
It is never fun to be the one to pop somebody’s balloon. But I know I did the right thing for that man – and who knows? We might be related, after all.