As Gilbert and Sullivan said in Pinafore,  “Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.”

A while back I received a phone call purportedly from the Canadian Bar Insurance Association (CBIA)  saying that if I simply request a quote for house insurance, I can win an IPad.  Given that I had just forked over a sizeable sum to my insurer, I asked for a quote.  Unfortunately the CBIA rates were higher even though my house never suffered a break in. In fact to deter burglars,  I owned a ferocious dog. Well actually I owned a beagle.  He may not have been that ferocious but Columbo did have a great howl.

I passed on the quote and went on with life.  So did Columbo.

About 6 months later I received a call from a lady allegedly from the CBIA.
She said, ” Congratulations, you won an iPad.”

My scam radar was up.   I responded, ” No madam, I am not interested in duct cleaning.”

She assured me she was not peddling duct cleaning.  I actually should have realized that as she did not start the call by saying, “How are you doing today.”

But my suspicion increased. I insisted that I knew what she was after and I told her I was not interested in buying a time share.

She insisted that she was calling to tell me I had won an IPad.

I decided I was likely dealing with some hacker and I said to her,

” OK, you convinced me. Here is the PIN number to my bank account: 123 idiot”.

Surprisingly she was patient. She actually giggled and told me if I had any doubts, to just call the Ontario Bar Association and ask to speak to Maureen.  Or was it Marlene? It could have been Megan.  All these foreign hacker names sound alike.

I did just that and someone actually answered, “Ontario Bar Association, bonjour.”

I asked for “Marsha”.  That is usually a safe non hacker name.

The swindler came on the line. She said, ” Mr Strigberger.  Can we just send you that free IPad.

I figured at this stage I had flushed out duct cleaning, time share and PIN numbers.  I was safe.  I told her to go ahead and make my day.

Suddenly she said, ” One condition”.

” Ah huh, ” I shouted.

She said, ” The contest rule requires that you just answer one simple skill testing question.”

I knew it.

She asked me, ” What is 10 times 10, plus 10?”

Trick question no doubt.  Idea. I consulted the absolute genius, the total guru, the modern day Oracle of Delphi. I took my mobile out and asked Siri.  Siri responded, “Here’s what I found on the web…Simple.  Are you sure you finished law school?”

Without further hesitation, I said to Marsha, ” 110. And if you tell me I also won a free cruise, I’ll scream.”

My IPad arrived by courier a week later.

I am now an expert in fake telemarketing.  If anyone needs my advice, just call me; and have your credit card ready.


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