No costume needed for this Halloween scare

Email and phone scams add to the spookiness of the season, says Lori Borgman. Dreamstime/TNS

Some of the neighbors go all out for Halloween with spiderwebs dangling from trees, inflatable green-eyed monsters in the front yard and skeletons crawling up the house. If I really want a good scare, I scan emails in my junk folder or listen to messages on the landline.

Diplomat Joe McDonald has been trying to reach me to let me know that a sealed box worth $8,000,000 has arrived at JFK airport with instructions to be delivered to my doorstep.

If I were to email Joe back — which I will not — I would tell Joe we live in a safe neighborhood, but $8,000,000 seems like a lot to leave on the porch.

Joe can’t dispatch the box until we pay $155 for a yellow tag.

Hey Joe, rip open the box, take out $155, and leave the box on the porch. We’ll let the trick-or-treaters dip into the cash and be the house that put the treat in trick-or-treat!

I also receive scary emails from people on their sick beds. If I were so sick I couldn’t get out of bed, I’d be emailing health care providers, not some stranger I found online.

I was recently contacted by someone claiming to be Nelson Mandela’s daughter (from her sick bed). She has $15 million she would like to give me to use for charity. Imagine. A host of international contacts and she chooses me to do business with. That’s just creepy.

If I were to email back — which I will not — I would say I am glad to assist, but there will be a brief delay while I register as a 501(c)(3).


I also hear from people who want to sell my website. They charge 3% “success fees.” I’m more interested in their “failure fees.”

Even if I’m not interested in selling, they’ll pay me $50,000 if I give them the name of someone else. Easy money. I thought that was the domain of Washington, D.C. I guess ghouls just wanna have fun.

Then there are the terrifying messages on the landline. If we dimmed the lights and lit a few candles, we could be a haunted house.

“Your car warranty is about to expire.”

Ha! Beat you to it. Our Explorer has 215,000 miles on it!

“Amazon calling. A $700,000 order was placed on your account. Please call to confirm your account login and password.”

“Your computer will crash unless you call back and let us take it over remotely and provide two credit cards and a bank account number.”

The best one?

“This is the Social Security Administration calling to notify you that due to fraudulent activity, we have issued a warrant for your arrest.”

Heart-stopping, but if someone is already on their way with a warrant, why would I need to call back with my name, address and Social Security number?

These messages are as fake as plastic vampire teeth dripping blood. They are laughable — but they can make you batty.

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Her new book, “What Happens at Grandma’s Stays at Grandma’s” is now available. Email her at

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Tribune Wire

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