Opinion: Baciwa Impostors & Other Scams (Part II)
By Han Shrng | read part I
After the publication of the first part of this article, a friend of mine told me that an unidentified man also tried to make a similar BACIWA representation trick on his household. Nothing came out of it though, because when my friend asked for an authorization from the water district, the man could not produce any.
Last March, a delivery employee of Jollibee was victimized by a new swindling ruse. The perpetrators called Jollibee (I wasn’t able to verify which branch) and ordered three buckets of Chicken Joy. The ordering entity was supposedly a female doctor. Instructions were given to deliver said order to the clinic of the doctor and to bring P800.00 change. When the delivery boy arrived, he was met by two(?) men who advised him to leave the two buckets to them and deliver the third bucket to a higher floor where the doctor was waiting in her clinic. The men also told the delivery boy that the doctor will be paying the P1,200.00 bill and he has to leave to them the P800.00 change because the doctor supposedly has two P1,000.00 bills. The delivery boy obliged and went on his way to the doctor’s clinic where he learned from the secretary that the good doctor had not made such order. The poor guy, bewildered with what just happened to him, had to sit on the stairs for awhile and contemplate his coming fate.
It’s a sad thing to see this poor guy trying to eke out a living for himself and his family and lose what is due him because of the laziness of some otherwise capable people who would rather con people than "magbanat ng kanilang buto." It’s such an unforgiveable thing to do to one’s fellowman.
So what does this case teach us? If you’re with a retail or service establishment that offers delivery services, always VERIFY orders by phone. A number of establishments where I myself order food would ask for my full name and my contact number then they will return my call and verify the order. Of course, it goes without saying that it is safer to proceed with the transaction at the entrance of a house (with someone coming out from the house) or inside an office (where everyone knows everybody) than in a lobby, hallway, stairs, or any other area that is easily accessible to outsiders.
When we look back in time, the elderly among us will surely remember the Dugo-Dugo Gang, the modus operandi of which was to call residences and trick the maid into providing the caller with cash at a predetermined site, which will supposedly be used for the hospitalization of the maid’s male boss who had a vehicular accident. Many had fallen for this ruse in the past until the method just faded into oblivion as more people became aware of it. Now it seems that this modus operandi is being reincarnated, but this time the lies are being spread via cellphones. I have personally received such a message from 094-444-7422 and the message, in toto, is as follows, "ma nketxt lng q s akong kaoban lowbat akung cp. Naa q hospital kron ky n dsgracia me s among ge sakyan. Loade s ning numbera ma. Pls. 100 em4tante paabot q s load."
The message so amused me that I did not erase it. I’ll be using it to educate people. Let us break down the message and make educated inferences. Since the language being used is Cebuano, it may indicate that the perpetrator may be a Cebuano-speaker who is from North Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, or Region 7. It’s ironic since I’m Ilonggo and my mom doesn’t speak Cebuano. My number being picked as a victim is most likely chosen at random.
Now, if a family member borrows a friend’s cellphone and texts home, common sense will tell us that he/she will put his/her name at the end of the message, considering that the number being used will not appear in his/her kin’s phonebook. What’s more, if an accident really did happen, and if he/she did in fact had serious injuries, will he/she have the capacity, time, and/or chance to personally text his/her family? If he/she is being operated on I doubt if doctors will allow him/her to text. So if the person is not that injured to text why can’t he call home via landline or ask somebody to inform his family? Some more intelligent con artists may choose to disguise themselves as a friend of that person but it may not convince the victim enough to make a wrong move.
It’s noticeable also that the amount of the load being asked for has been fixed to P100.00. Why haven’t he said to call that number? Instead, he was asking for load. If the accident was true and the text was genuine, it would be more likely that the name of the hospital and the room number will be indicated in the text. Of course, a more intelligent crook can just easily include that in the text but then you can use it to verify at the named hospital before making any foolish moves.
Taking all of these into consideration, it becomes very apparent that said message is a fake. Naturally, I didn’t waste my load answering it. It’s very important that we apply common sense. An earlier text scam consists of a message where a supposedly family member tells the recipient of the text that "This is my new roaming number" and the message is followed by some with a few other sentences, in some of which say, "I’ve sent you a balikbayan box."
Here the texter is trying to paint a picture that he/she is a kin working abroad. I personally received several of these messages but again I didn’t believe them. First of all, they did not bear the name of the sender. A genuine sender, especially one texting from abroad (and paying P15.00 or P20.00/text), would not be that careless or foolish not to include his name in his message. One time I received 3 or 4 similar messages of this nature, but all coming from different cellphone numbers. Ironically, these bogus messages were sent to my phone one after the other with no or so little time interval. It’s just plain crazy to believe in the scam.
The allusion to a "balikbayan box" is obviously a bait for the victim to respond to the message. I have not replied to these messages so I do not know how this scam is concluded, and there’s no need for me to experience it to know it’s a fake.
Yet another text scam, which comes in different formats, is the "you win" text. Entities given in these texts that had supposedly sponsored these "raffles" include Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, PAGCOR (Casino Filipino), and PCSO) among others. But a simple check with these entities would show that they are not connected in any way to these claims of "raffle wins" from unscrupulous text messages. Several public warning have already been issued by concerned entities.*