Another time, some years ago, my husband and I were away on vacation. We called home to see how things were going and our daughter said, “You guys been shopping?”
“No, why?” I asked.
“The credit card company called and left a message on the machine. They want to check on some of the recent purchases you’ve made.”
We called the credit card company and sure enough, someone had somehow gotten our credit card number and was making huge purchases in upscale stores! Thankfully, the credit card company immediately canceled the card and we were not responsible for the charges.
While these are personal instances, it’s interesting to know historically there are those who conned people for many years in a most unlikely way! We’ve probably all heard the expression, after something that sounds particularly unbelievable: “If you believe that, I’ll sell you ocean front property in….. Arizona!” There is a unique story behind this!
George C. Parker (1870-1936) has the distinction of being a man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge two times a week for a good many years. His ruse was to convince potential buyers, if they bought the bridge, they could charge a fee to everyone who crossed it. The “new buyers” would then attempt to erect toll booths to claim their fortune! Of course, the police would then have to convince the new owners they had been conned by the best; and really didn’t own anything at all, and ultimately had to leave!
History tells us other places or "items" Mr. Parker sold includes Madison Square Garden, the Statue of Liberty and even Grant’s Tomb! He was an expert at creating forged documents and provided everything he needed for his potential customers to eradicate any doubt of his ability to sell the items on his list. George Parker was convicted of his illegal exploits three times, and even sentenced to a life term in prison. But his actions, ironically, leave him remembered as the most successful conman in the United States.
His hoaxes are remembered by cultures past his own….and this is supposedly where the expression, “If you believe that….,” originated. He's remembered by some like Jesse James might have been remembered back in his day; as some kind of hero by those who don't understand the damage done.
Con artists abound in our world today and frankly it’s frightening. There are those who would scam others with prizes or lotteries, astrology and psychic scams, pyramid schemes, investment and employment swindles, internet and medical scams, and these are only a few! Of course we know about those who would scan your credit card, hack your computer or use other techniques to take advantage of those who are unaware.
I have no idea who said, “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is!” but I suspect he was right, and I totally agree with the assessment! So I challenge you to be especially conscientious about how you use your credit cards, the internet, and what you accept or share on your phone or computer for anything that is important to you. Con artists are waiting for the unsuspecting! Don't let it be you!