“Can somebody help me?”
It was the soft, pleading voice of a young woman who didn’t look well.
I was at my Chase branch, angry with Chase’s changes to what were once Wa Mu accounts (resulting in Chase losing several thousands worth of my mortgage payments—which is another story).
The young woman was talking over me to the branch manager who was on the phone to her new headquarters trying to sort my mess out. The girl looked as though she’d had a hard life, she and her young boyfriend a little too skinny; he, at least, possibly strung out, with stubble on his shaved head and beard.
As the bank manager held on the phone, the girl started talking in a voice you had to strain to hear, which we all did as the branch went otherwise silent.
“It’s about $895 we spent on this Internet program. We need to know if we should send them more. Or if we can get our money back.”
The girl, with blond streaked hair, locked her glassy eyes with mine as I turned to acknowledge what she was saying. She held up her iPhone, adding “See, they sent us this contract, it’s all legal, right? We sent them the $895 dollars. And now they’re asking for more.”
Young, very young, maybe emancipated … and she's recovering from surgery she then tells me.
“So now they’re asking us for more money,” says the girl again, who by now is at the teller while her boyfriend sits back on a blue couch behind her. "Do we give it to them?"
When the tellers and I inform these poor youngsters that they'd been scammed and to stop sending them any money, the young man leaps from the couch and says “I Thought SO!”
It all happened over her iPhone, entering in via her e-mail and costing these people probably all the money they had in the world. No, she couldn’t put a stop on the check because they sent the money via Western Union. Yes, she should report it to the local police, the teller explained to her.
As they left the branch, the girl was propped the boy’s arm for support, the pain meds from her surgery wearing off. As they left, all I could do was hand them the scribbled down web address to the Internet Crime Complaint Center for filing a report.
Real victims. Real crimes. Now anyone with any type of smart phone is a target.
For some of those people, such unfettered access to the Internet over their phones is new. And criminals know, it’s the newbies that always make the best targets because they aren’t wise to the criminal's ways.
I predict a huge wave of crime to hit smart phone users as everyone who didn’t use to have computers now has a computer carried right in their purses and pockets wherever they go.