How to avoid being scammed, and other amazing stories

by | Aug 15, 2023 | Latest Post | 0 comments

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Just another coffee morning (not)

This morning, to our local church coffee morning populated let it be said by retired people over the age of 70.  It would be a mistake to write people off on the grounds of age because these people have an accumulated wealth of wisdom not only from themselves but from their children and grandchildren. The morning takes place each Tuesday throughout the year. There is a ‘cake making’ and an ‘on duty’ rota.

We discussed first of all the virtues and benefits of going to Wales for a holiday. Someone said they were taking the whole family to Tenby but was not quite sure whether that would count as a holiday as such.  I said I had just returned from Cardiff and remarked on the amount spent on art not to mention the 250 million plus euros spent on the artificial Bay. I said I was thinking of going to Swansea and the consensus was that this was a worthwhile place not only as a town in itself but in the pleasant approach by road.

I commented on the vast overcrowding along the M4 which has to serve as a corridor between East and West and also as a feeder road to the motorway that goes up the middle of Wales. What with all the lorries and the  trucks going to ports there is no such thing as a quiet time of day with the possible exception of Sunday morning.

There was a retired sales rep for Wales said that if you go to certain parts of Wales and they hear you are from England they stop talking English and start talking Welsh.  Maybe to make some sort of political point. He praised mid-Wales which he found beautiful.

Sales and telephone scams

A lady next to me had a mobile phone of the vintage era, 3G.   I teased her about this and she said she couldn’t be bothered with these modern phones. I found myself saying that so long as you can send and received text messages and get hold of people in an emergency you have what is required.  She told me she was frightened of being scammed and this led to me giving her a little talk about how to avoid  being scammed on the phone.

Off the top of my head, I said the following

if you answer the phone and no one speaks, it means that they have called people in batches and they are talking to the person who picked up the phone first

if you can hear in the background a great noise of other people talking, it probably means it’s a call center

no one ever calls you from Microsoft

if someone calls you saying they are in the area and they are doing a survey

if someone calls saying there is something wrong with your computer and that you have a virus

if someone calls saying you have a tax rebate

if someone calls saying that you may be entitled to a compensation for a car accident that you cannot recall having had

if someone calls claiming to be from your bank or a Fraud Department

if someone calls with an Indian Accent  it is most definitely a call center (nothing against Indians)

PLUS

if someone calls saying they’ve got a bit of bitumen over from a driveway job and they will offer it to you at a special price

if an information brochure is too glossy and only has a mobile phone number without a website – avoid

Do I still have to mention emails from Nigeria saying that you have won  or inherited five million pounds so please send your details to someone with an impressive sounding name at a very prestigious office address.  Before you know where you are, you are having to pay transaction fees and you have of course lost your money at that point

The police can do little if you have voluntarily given your money without due care and attention

Scamming is a very profitable industry (£1.2Bn in 2022) and makes billions for the scammers and ultimately for the banks.  The point is if someone calls and you do not know who they are let the phone ring and they can leave a message if they want. Inevitably, they won’t.

Scam text messages are also on the rise.  If you are asked to call your bank make sure it is a legitimate number. In personalization of a bank employee is very common and they sound so realistic.

If in doubt, ask a friend or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Cake and Interesting Gossip

Cake with everything (not ‘let them eat cake’. On offer the morning we had the usual tea and coffee plus  the traditional cake offering  of Bakewell tart or a sponge cake. We could have one or the other. Most people took the Bakewell tart  because funnily enough it is more difficult to make properly and therefore fewer people can do it  so it is more of a treat.  Payment is by donation.  Excess goes to church funds.  I reckon they get more money by asking for donations, a 5 pound or even a 10 pound note is quite common.

The same lady told me how she had broken her hip when she fell down in her living room and could not get up again. She had to struggle to get to the phone and called her son who came along but could not lift her so they ended up by calling the ambulance. Three years later, she is walking with the aid of a wheeled frame. She says that the operation was all right but it left her weaker and she’s always  had a difficult hip anyway.

The same lady had also worked some time ago for NatWest bank. Management styles were different in those days. She told me a story of a new manager who came in and announced herself by saying I am Linda, the new manager, and what I want I get.   These days this would not be tolerated but in those days the authoritarian mode succeeded in part for she gained her own lackeys who would act at her bidding.

She herself complained but was told that if she didn’t like it, she could leave. However some other staffers complained and the complaints were upheld and as a result the new manager was moved. I noticed a tendency for incompetent people to be promoted. It may be because it is more difficult to sack people then ever before. If the sacked person takes you to court it will probably cost you more so I imagine in many cases there is a settling out of Court

The aunt of this lady had passed a couple of months ago and she was saying how it took six weeks to sort out all her affairs. She was once a Tiller Girl at

Diana Dors (1931-1984), British actress, the British ‘blonde bombshell’ posing on bed with silk bedding, circa 1955.

the Windmill Theatre  in London and was used as a double for Diana Dors.  She must have been quite a stunner.   She was married off by her parents whilst in her twenties to marry a man who was in his 50s so she had been on her own for some time.  She was also good friends with Danny La Rue

 In her latter life the aunt caught Parkinson’s Disease. I’m not sure whether you can catch it perhaps so I should say inherited it and it now became obvious in her case.  To see whether this is inherited or caught, this article from the Guardian might interest you.  Anyway to continue the story, she became aggressive and prone to foul language and abuse.  The lady I was talking to was on the receiving end of this but did not take it personally.

We had a good discussion on the theoretical value of unwanted objects and whether it was worth taking them to auction or just offering them around the family. She said that the aunt had posters going back to the 1950s and I said that would be an attractive idea for those wishing to put them on the market. It took six weeks to clear all her possessions.

Origins of words

I always have my mobile with me so that if I hear a word that I do not understand or whose origin is unclear I immediately ask Google and get the answer in a few seconds which I relay to the group. One of these  was a phrase ‘stir crazy’..  I have only used this word a very few times in my life and sometimes our catch myself using words which I don’t understand the meaning of only because other people use them. Stir crazy originated as a word to describe a prisoner who became distraught after prolonged confinement. Stir is a 19th Century slang word for prison that some word historians have suspected to be from Romani stariben,  of the same meaning.

A chat with George the Church warden

George was busy as he normally is on Tuesday mowing the church graveyard and paying attention to the ever-growing shrubbery therein.   He had bought a battery powered Ryobi  hedge cutter with an extension. It was new and had a very good cutting edge. Some of the cheaper models of which this is one the can last a long time if you don’t abuse them. He said the battery lasted for about an hour and took an hour to recharge. It is nice that the technology is coming up to date and meeting demand.

So you see dear reader here is the substance of a perfectly ordinary very local event that no one would even turn their head to notice.   But to me there is a lot of useful information that I find a catalyst and also I have a chance to spread information about what I know and share it with others There  was no gossip as such, no malice, just goodwill and sharing and inquiring after people’s health.

Visiting my 92 year old gardening customer

I visited my 92 year old gardening customer, June, to see if it would be convenient for us to go in and mow the lawn. She has her ups and downs. She lives alone and is naturally nervous as a single woman so when we do the gardening work she comes out of the back door, makes one of two comments, goes back in the house and locks the door. I do not take this personally. It’s just her habit over the years.

This time she looked very healthy and positive and I told her so. She did not react in any way I suspect partly because she does not receive compliments very often.  She has never offered us a cup of tea but in a strange way I do not mind.   It is a pleasure to work for her. When we first worked for her three years ago she used to bring a chair outside and watch us do everything. As I have said before I never work for unpleasant people because the vibratory consequences are so severe it really feels like hard thankless work.

An unexpected call

While writing this I received an amazing call from a friend who is thinking of relocating to Lesotho in Africa.   A very wise friend of his says that there will be a war in Europe and it is better to plan ahead and take your wife and family to a more peaceful place on the planet. The idea is to do diamond prospecting in river banks.    As to me anyway a sign of divine guidance. He has received help from many people who not only themselves have been useful. but had useful connections. I have always said that if a new plan is difficult to start it is  not meant to be but in this case quite the converse was true and I would give him 9 out of 10  for following the inner guidance that we all have access to. Synchronicity is always a good sign.

The good Lord will look after us wherever we are on the planet but maybe if we are called elsewhere there will be another set of parameters that will open up for us. When the disciples of Jesus went on there journeys they did not have the luxury of advance planning and just took as they found, the good and the bad and there was plenty of bad.  If they can do it then so can we. It did not end well for most of them but they had the great advantage of going out in style.  I wish to do the same.

To tea and then off for a walk.

Francoise returned from her luncheon in Tunley with her 13 colleagues from the Timsbury painting group where upon we set off for a walk better to enjoy the sunny afternoon.   We stopped off at the Mendip  pantry that I have referred to too many times before. I bought two frozen beef lasagna lunches. At three pound.95 each I couldn’t cook them myself for much less so it really is a bargain.

Then off to a local recreation area, Stockhill Wood, which is just about the right size to have a good walk around in let us say half an hour. If you have an appetite for any more you can go across the road to uncultivated areas on a hillside which are unsuitable for farming and have been in their present condition for many centuries.   is beautifully untouched  and  mysterious way looks after itself.  If you go further you will find a Roman iron smelting works.

On the return the weather was very good to us and it was lovely to see a clear blue sky with the clouds scudding along as clouds do

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