Some things are as good as they look – others not so much

Posted on January 14, 2010


Here is something that is just as good as it looks:

The pizza on top is, of course, classic pepperoni pizza.  The one on the bottom is the most ethereal pizza imaginable, the creation of Kathy Windiate, who knows what she’s doing in a kitchen.  It is a crispy thin crust slathered with Alfredo sauce and topped with diced broasted chicken and fresh spinach (“lots more than you think you need because it cooks down”) and grated mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.  There are many possible variations.  All of them are good.  Kathy (and Angie Kline, who made this one) assure me that we can make this all by ourselves.  I bought a jar of Alfredo sauce and will report back.

Other things are NOT as good as they look.  

  • The Grandparent Scam.  A regular customer called the Eastport Market.  Did we have a Western Union service, or did we know where there is one?  On account of this customer had to send cash to a young relative in a distant state who was in trouble.  And it had to get there overnight. 
  • The EFT Check Scam.  A truck driver presented an “EFT Check.”  The way it worked, he explained, was that we would call his employer, the issuer, and obtain a code.  Then we’d deposit the check in our account and be paid for a couple hundred gallons of diesel he wanted to buy.  “Truck stops know all about these,” he explained.
  • The ACH Transfer Scam.  Someone called to speak to the owners.  Well, anyone would do, really, they just had to clear up where they were to send the refund.  What was the correct account number?

OK, people.  Thieves are very, very persuasive.  This is what they do for a living.  The boldest and worst of them occupy the boardrooms of the financial institutions that brought us the Great Crash of 2008.  The apprentices toil in telephone boiler rooms where they mine stolen financial data to identify lambs for shearing. 

Sheriff Dan Bean has warned of the Grandparent Scam.  Newspaper stories have described victims.  And still, when the call comes, the panicked voice that might be your nephew in St. Louis, “Uncle Ed, I’m in real trouble and I can’t tell Mom and Dad, they’d kill me.  I have to have $500 by tomorrow morning or these guys are gonna break my legs, I swear it”–or maybe, “Aunt Martha, I’m in a mess here, I’m out of propane and the kids are freezing.  I have to have $400 in cash by tomorrow morning”–when that call comes, you believe it.   You believe it because you are a nice and caring person and because deep down inside you are a little flattered that someone needs your help and is willing to confide in you instead of in your bossy older sister.

The scammers will steal your money, break your heart, and disappear into the faceless crowd of thieves. 

Please protect yourself.  Do not, under any circumstances, give any information to someone who calls you, not even to someone who seems to be a relative.  NO Social Security number, NO credit card number, NO bank name or location, NO routing numbers or account numbers. 

Please protect the people you love.  Keep in touch with relatives who might be vulnerable to these schemes.  Don’t call to give advice or worry at them.  Just call to say hello and trade news.  That way they just might call you for advice when they wonder if something is legitimate.

The pizza is good.  You have my word for that.  And if I’m wrong—maybe it turns out you don’t like Alfredo sauce on your pizza—you’re only out a couple of bucks.  Those telephone calls . . . not so good.  You have my word for that, too.  Be careful out there.