Thursday, November 15, 2018

Conspiracy-Minded Me, For a Moment

Today, a newspaper editor responded to an email he received "from" me:

This invoice GUU_59636372, and our October invoice are both extremely overdue.

Please can you conform a payment date and get this cleared urgently to avoid us having to proceed with legal action.

Thank you for your business - we appreciate it very much.

Thomas Knapp
868-079-3136 fax

That email address is my email address at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

Of course, The Garrison Center doesn't charge newspapers for op-eds. They're free. Heck,they're immediately put in the public domain precisely so that editors and publishers will know they don't -- can't -- cost  them anything (I think it's great outreach; if you'd like to support the project, see the right sidebar at this blog).

Naturally, I had to wonder whether this was just a regular scam ... or an intentional attempt to discredit the Garrison Center with publishers.

I found the answer in the phone numbers.

Neither of them are mine, or in any way related to the Garrison Center.

The area code for the first one is not in use in North America but is the country code for Papua New Guinea.

The area code for the second one is for Trinidad and Tobago.

These are almost certainly "premium" phone numbers, sort of like 900 numbers in the US. That is, when you call them, in addition to the phone bill itself, you get charged some ungodly amount of money per minute, with the money going to the owner of the phone number in question.

The whole idea of the "invoice" was that the scammer hoped the editor would be mad enough to pick up the phone and call with the intention of giving me a piece of his mind, rather than just replying by email, and end up with a $20 (or, hell, maybe $200) charge on his phone bill.

So, probably not any kind of political skulduggery. But still a very bad and evil thing.

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