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  • Lawrence Bailey

Scams and spam add to our misery

We’re all getting soundly fed-up with COVID and all its associated constraints. It feels like our lives are forming into patterns triggered by the stop-start nature of successive lockdowns.

Sadly, this so-called “pandemic fatigue” is a welcome opportunity for the lowlifes who prey on the vulnerable, the gullible and the bored.

I’ve been reading how fraudsters are targeting online purchase who have signed up since shielding restrictions started.

Imposters claim to be security staff, warning that accounts have been compromised. The next move is to ask the victim to download remote access software which allows the crooks to access online bank accounts.

It’s easy to scoff at how people could fall for this kind of con-trick yet the perpetrators can be very convincing.

A while back, I got a landline call from my internet provider - or so it seemed. The friendly voice on the other end introduced himself as “Jake”. He knew my name and said he was a member of the retention team. The reason for the call was to offer me a discount in advance of my contract renewal.

It all sounded great. My contract was indeed coming to an end up and I was happy to explore my options with Jake right up to the moment when he asked me how much I was currently paying.

Anyone calling to offer you a reduced price should already have that info and alarm bells started to sound. So, just to be on the safe side, I asked Jake to confirm my account number. There was a longish silence and the line went dead.

What needs to be remembered is that fraudsters start by knowing a little about you and then trade on a combination of coincidence and plausible pretence that coaxes you into filling in the gaps.

Businesses are just as vulnerable to the con-artists. Fake invoices are a growing problem for under-staffed firms who don’t have time to double check what are comparatively modest amounts.

Then there are the spammers who besiege outfits like mine with emails offering all sorts of amazing services, often with a clickable link capable of downloading all sorts of horrible stuff into your systems.

The defence is to safeguard valuable business data with layers of anti-malware protection and firewalls. The downside is that the genuine stuff can also get caught up in the net.

A colleague of mine almost out on a contract because he did not accept a client’s terms and conditions which were stuck in his spam folder for a month.

It seems that Covid is an ill-wind that blows no-one any good other than the fraudsters. Call me unreasonable, but it doesn’t seem right that consumers and businesses should be left abandoned to what has all the makings of a crime-wave.



“Trump Dumped” read the social media message on my phone. It was accompanied by one of those clever animated emoji thingies that I’ve never quite been able to master.

The meme was from a business contact based in Wisconsin where Trump lost to Biden by about 20,500 votes, based on unofficial results. The margin isn’t enough to warrant a free recount. So if the Republicans want one they have to pay for it. Yep, you read that right. You see, what seldom registers this side of the pond is that America may look and feel like a democracy but it’s a very different beast in terms of actual application, and most of it involves dollar signs.

Despite the upbeat message, my Wisconsin buddy is enough of a realist to know that Biden faces a huge task. A motivated electorate may have spoken but there are still enough disaffected voices to make for confrontation.

Trump’s appeal is that he’s someone willing to say the unsayable.

He voiced sentiments that others thought too politically dangerous, or just unacceptable, to say out loud. That appeal is waning in the face of a raging pandemic and economic reality but not by much.

The controversial incumbent will end up exiting the White House, if only because protocols will eventually deny him the reins of office, but I suspect he will do democracy irreparable harm before he goes.


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