My Dad said, “Tom, I need to do something with this check.”
My wife Denise had suggested that I leave our home in Vermont and stay with my parents in Connecticut for a few days after my mom’s hip replacement and ensuing complications. A few days had turned into what was at that point four months. I was at my usual place at their dining room table.
Their phone rang easily 20 times a day. Sometimes we’d get a ton of calls from the Jamaican scammers, other days we’d hear from Rachel at Card Services. The fake tech-support callers had scammed my Mom out of $1,000 in the previous year. So shortly after “moving in” I disabled the ringers on the house phones. The only phone with an audible ring was the cordless on my hip.
Not 20 minutes earlier I had had a disagreeable conversation with a Jamaican scammer who claimed I had promised to wire him some fee or another a few days earlier. During our conversation I realized that my Dad had probably spoken with him the previous weekend when I was back home in Vermont and unable to keep them away from the phone.
“What check, Dad?”
My father handed me a check made payable to him, at his address, for almost $8,000. It was printed on quality checkstock, drawn on an actual bank, on the account of a small manufacturer in central Maine. Dad had a vague recollection that he’d won some sort of prize and had to deposit this check in the bank.
I now had the rest of the story. The Jamaican guy on the phone was angry that I (because he thought I was Dad) had failed to wire the money to guarantee payment of the prize from – who else? – Publishers Clearing House.
The letter Dad showed me did indeed have Publishers Clearing House’s logo crudely photocopied on top. Along the bottom of the letter, also in greyscale, were the logos of Best Buy, and Wal Mart, and a half dozen other retailers and grocers. The only genuinely official-looking document here was the check – and instead of being drawn on the account of Publishers Clearing House in Westchester, it was drawn on the account of that small manufacturer in central Maine.
I questioned the authenticity of the check. His response: “Well, it sure looks real.”
To be continued…