Did I get scammed?

Happy Halloween, folks! Hope you got more tricks than treats!

Speaking of tricks…these days there are so many ways we can get scammed. Mostly online, but in-person too.

pexels-photo-365194.jpegI receive an email just about every day claiming “Your Paypal account has been frozen due to unknown sign-ins… click link to verify your account.” Yeah, right…

“Your Amazon order needs attention!” is another I get all the time. Phish much?

There’s also an email claiming it is from Apple iTunes saying “Your Apple ID has been compromised.” And then they try to get you to supply all your login info and charge all sorts of things to your account!

With all these going on, it’s hard to know what to believe.

Here’s what just happened to me that I wonder about…

Money, gas, donate, charityOn my way home from work I noticed my gas gauge was around 1/4 tank, so I stopped to fill up.

I pulled my credit card out of my wallet and was about to put it in the pump and a guy around 40 years old approached me.

I held on to my card a little tighter as he got closer and he said, “I’m really sorry to bother you, but I don’t know what else to do…”

I didn’t say a word and just eyed him suspiciously for invading my space with my exposed credit card out.

He continued, hitching his thumb back towards his car saying, “My wife and I are trying to get back home to Tinley and I realized I left my wallet at home. I’m really embarrassed, but would you be able to give me $5 for gas just so we can make it home?”

Now, granted…we were in West Chicago and for all purposes, Tinley IS on pretty much the other side of the earth from here…

But I’ve heard all about scams like this so I replied to him, “I’m sorry, but I’ve been burned by things like this before.”

He said, “I can understand that, but I’m not asking for $5, just $5 worth of gas.” I told him my same reply as above and added, “…maybe go inside the gas station and ask them if they can do anything.”

He said he already tried that and thanks anyway.

Once he walked away I used my card and pumped my gas. I watched him and he walked back to his car and stood outside there, seeming to be thinking about what he should do…”

Here were my thoughts…Why is he all the way out here with no wallet…wouldn’t he have needed it for whatever he was here for? Why doesn’t his wife have a credit card or any cash either?

But I also thought…if this guy IS actually legit and I was in this same situation, wouldn’t I need the help too? Everyone’s place in life is different and maybe they don’t have a credit card. Someday I will be judged for my actions and I don’t want St. Peter at the Pearly Gates reminding me of that time I didn’t give that needing soul $5 for gas (darn Catholic guilt!)…

5DollarBill_PexelsBut even though I’m just coming off of a short weekend trip and I didn’t really have extra to give, I thought to myself…”$5 won’t put me in the poor house even if it is a scam. And if he is legit, I did something good and helped him make it home tonight.”

So, I replaced the pump, walked over to him and said, “Here dude, $5 won’t kill me…get home safe.”

He brightened and took the bill, thanking me.

The past has an influence on the present – whether that’s good or bad

Looking at things that have happened to me before, and trying to figure out if I was just scammed or not, I do have a couple negative experiences in this realm.

Many times I’ve seen a guy on the exit of the Stephenson, panning for money with a cardboard sign saying “Jobless, please help. God bless.” I always wonder if these people are scamming or not. In the case of this guy with the sign, I ended up seeing him across the room at a bar/grill one day, which solidified my theory that he was scamming for beer money and really pissed me off, to be honest.

On other occasions, I have seen people with signs saying they are hungry. And a time or two I’ve given them my second breakfast burrito or an extra taco another time and they genuinely were thankful. I won’t give them money, but I will give them food. However, another time I offered another one of them food and they said, “No, I just want money.” …Hmmmmmm…

i-give-you-love-1169523So, how do you know what is legitimate and what is a scam? Can you ever know for sure?

I guess you just have to do what feels right and see if your heart tells you one way or another.

I’d like to think I made the right choice with the gas man.

Post a comment and let us know if you have ever been scammed or if you’ve found out you really did do something to help someone.

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