Tag Archives: scam

I was perhaps impolite to a man who offered me £50 per week for advice

I have mostly been in bed since Friday with a bad cough.

Even worse than my normal one.

Perhaps I have started hallucinating.

I had a phone call from a very nice man today. He was calling from 07843-670273.

That is a UK mobile cellphone number.

His first words, after a slight pause, were: “Are you (after another slight pause) Mr Fleming?”

“I might be,” I said. “Who are you?” My voice was croaking a little.

He told me his name and the financial services company he was calling from. The company’s name was a series of letters. He said he was doing research.

I congratulated him on having a job is this very difficult financial climate.

He asked me if I had ever made online financial investments.

I said I had done, “many, many times – mostly in Madagascar.”

He told me how very good it was to hear that.

“So you know how the system works,” he said.

“Oh yes, of course,” I told him. “I give money to you and you take money from me.”

“Oh no,” he replied.

He explained that he was not asking for money. He was offering free advice.

“That is a very bad business model,” I told him. “You should have a word with your bosses. That is a very bad way to do business. Not to ask for payment in return for services. That is terrible. You should ask for money if you give advice.”

He reassured me he was not asking me to pay anything. He repeated this several times. And explained that his company was offering free advice. “Are you interested?” he asked.

“This is a terrible way to run a business,” I repeated.

“Are you interested?” he asked.

“If you pay me,” I told him, “I would be interested in giving you advice which you could pass on to your bosses and it would improve your business model..”

After some to-and-fro, he asked me: “How much would you want?”

“£50 a week for the next three weeks,” I told him.

He said that was OK.

“Just give me your home address,” I told him, “and I will send everything to you by post.”

“You want my address?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“There is no need,” he said. “Give me your telephone number and I will transfer the money to you.”

“But you know my number,” I said, surprised. “You phoned me on it and your number is 07843-670273.”

He said he did not know my number; only my name.

“But how could you phone me?” I asked, “without having my number? You are talking to me on my number. I don’t think I am hallucinating. But maybe I am.”

He insisted he did not know my number but would pay me the £50 per week.

“But, no, you must know my number. I still don’t understand,” I said. “How on earth could you phone my number if you don’t have my number?”

“I like you, Mr Fleming,” he said.

“That is deeply unfortunate,” I told him, “because you are a cunt.”

And I hung up and blocked his number.

Perhaps I was too harsh.

And I lost the chance to earn £50 per week for the next three weeks.

Feel free to contact him – 07843-670273 – if you want to give him any advice.

But remember a minimum charge rate of £50 per week for your services has already been set as standard.

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See London West End shows for free

Diane Soencer performing at Soho Theatre yesterday

Diane Spencer performed at launch yesterday

I went to Soho Theatre yesterday for the London launch of this year’s Brighton Fringe. The event was unticketed but there was a guest list.

Inside the auditorium, I got into conversation with a man who had wandered in off the street randomly.

“I was passing,” he told me, “and it looked like something was happening, so I just came in. I smiled at the girls on the door. It looked like a PR thing where there might be free food and drink. I go to see a lot of plays and musicals in the West End for free.”

“How do you do that?” I asked.

“I only go to see things that have been running a while,” he told me. “so there will always be some empty seats. I guess when the interval is going to be, get there a bit earlier and wander up to the bar. They don’t check for tickets on the door. I go up to the bar and wait for the audience to come out for the interval.

“When the interval ends and the audience goes back in, I wait in the bar until they’re all seated, then go in, look for an empty seat and go sit in it.”

“But,” I asked, “Don’t the people sitting next to what had been an empty seat look a bit surprised?”

“Not really,” the man told me. “Sometimes they do a bit, but I guess they just think I’m very late.”

“Have you ever been thrown out for not having a ticket?” I asked.

“Never,” he said.

“Don’t you have trouble following the plot if you’ve missed the first half?”

“Not often,” he told me. “And, with musicals, it doesn’t matter much. I know roughly what the story is about. I check in advance. Most people go for the songs. So do I.”

“How long have you been doing this?” I asked.

“A couple of years,” he told me.

“I’ve always thought,” I said, “that it would be a good scam to go round churches on a Saturday afternoon when there are a lot of weddings. If you go in, they just ask if you are with the bride or the groom. They will direct you to sit at one side of the church or the other and, after the wedding, you could probably get to the Reception and get free food and drink. But I could never be bothered trying it.”

“There would be no spare seat for you at the Reception,” the man told me. “And wasn’t there a film about that?”

“Could have been,” I said.

“I never saw it,” the man said.

“Nor me,” I said. “If there was one.”

There was a long pause.

“I once went with two friends to Luton Airport on a Saturday night,” I said. “People never go to airports unless they have to, so I thought it might be interesting to have a night out at Luton Airport like it was a social event. Or a holiday. A one-night holiday at Luton Airport.”

The man did not look interested.

“We had a meal there,” I persevered. “We bought Luton Airport cowboy hats – Why Luton Airport had cowboy hats I don’t know – and we went to the Arrivals area and waved at people coming back from their holidays.

“It wasn’t as interesting as I thought it might be,” I admitted. “I thought it would be interesting to go for no reason to somewhere you never normally go to unless you have a reason. I suggested we should go to a hospital the next time. People don’t go to hospitals unless they have to and you can wander anywhere you like. I thought we might just see where we could wander. My friends thought it was in slightly bad taste.”

“Oh,” said the stranger at Soho Theatre, clearly bored.

He started taking photographs of the stage show.

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The scams of Malcolm Hardee

Brian Mulligan, of late lamented comedy/music duo Skint Video, read my blog yesterday about the always financially creative Malcolm Hardee, who used to be their agent. He tells me it brought back fond memories of Malcolm “telling venues when they paid us cash that they needed to give us the VAT at 15% – he would say he had forgotten the invoice but would write one out there and then.”

As he was not actually registered for VAT and not entitled to collect it, he used to write down a friend’s telephone number as the VAT number, thus getting an extra 15% on top of the fee, which he then pocketed as well as his agent’s fee.

This was one of the many fine pieces of lateral thinking that Malcolm became known for.

When, on one occasion, he had to send his driving licence to the DVLA in Swansea (one of many, many occasions) they sent him back a new licence in the name of “Malcolm Hardy”. He pointed out the spelling mistake to them and they sent him another licence with the correct spelling “Malcolm Hardee”. But he never returned the first licence. This meant he had two driving licences so, if he was banned from driving and his licence suspended for some dubious motoring offence or offences, he still had what he reckoned was a ‘valid’ licence he could show to police if stopped again – the ‘other’ licence.

When Malcolm’s brother Alex was sorting out paperwork after his untimely death, Malcolm’s phone rang: it was the Inland Revenue rather optimistically asking when Malcolm was going to settle his tax bill. Alex told the taxman that, sadly, Malcolm had died. Their response was:

“You told us that last year, Mr Hardee…”

You can hear Malcolm’s son Frank telling similar stories at Malcolm’s legendary 2005 funeral HERE. If you listen to this, remember that it takes place in a church at a funeral not, as it may sound, at a stand-up comedy club…

(In August this year, the Edinburgh Fringe will include a week of events celebrating the spirit of Malcolm Hardee.)

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The World Trade Center terrorist attack and the 9/11 compensation scam

Yesterday, I was talking to someone about urban myths surrounding the Al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, particularly the story that, under the rubble of the second tower to fall, a crushed fire engine was found containing hundreds of neatly-stacked Gap or Structure brand jeans apparently looted from a shop in the first tower to fall. There is an interesting site debunking 9/11 myths, which does not include that story.

But there is another story not on that site which I understand is true…

I am told there was extensive building work going on at the Twin Towers before the attack and this involved some Irish-origined workers.

As soon as possible after the attack happened, some of the workers flew to Ireland. Their wives claimed they were missing and waited around until they eventually got compensation for their husbands’ deaths. According to Wikipedia (never necessarily accurate) the average individual payout to 9/11 relatives was $1.8 million. After receiving the money, the wives rejoined their husbands in Ireland. Some, I’m told, even stayed in the US where their ‘dead’ husbands rejoined them after a respectable time had elapsed.

If true (and I understand it is), as scams go, this was a very clever one and required quick thinking at the time.

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