Part II: To Hell and Back

Every once in a while, something happens that reconfigures the way we see the world. These events generally fall on a spectrum of extremes of either calamity or grace.


When adversity strikes: Who you want to be vs. who you are.

We all have an idea about who we would be or how we would respond if something terrible happened to us.

When I found out that my entire down payment had been stolen, I wanted to be stoic, I wanted to take on the attitude that I would rebuild. I wanted to be able to accept what had happened and then move forwards. That’s how I tried to respond but as time went on, I started to see the divide between who I wanted to be, and who I was.

It was an extremely revealing experience and for better or for worse, when calamity strikes, you have a chance to get really intimate with yourself.

On the surface, no one would have ever known what had happened. I kept it completely together and maybe I portrayed who I wanted to be on the outside, but on the inside, I felt suffocated.

My inner monologue had been flipped on its head and I felt completely helpless.

I felt like a victim, I was sad, scared and then I was furious. I felt hate. Hatred towards the scammers, hatred towards the bank and anger at the injustice of it all. I felt the injustice that I had not even picked up the phone and spoken to the scammer or clicked on a link. It was like a drive by where I was a bystander but was the one that had been impacted most severely.

Since the money was transferred from my aunt’s account, she had to be the one to deal with the bank, the transfer company, and the police. I just waited. There was no relief. No where for me to take out my anger.

When something terrible happens, your view of people and the world changes. I was scared that this event would change me at a core level.

Perspective: Can someone get me a helicopter?

On Saturday the 19th, of July, one week after the incident, my girlfriend and a couple of friends went on a hike through the Canyon Creek Ice Cave Trail in Kananaskis. The majority of the hike was flat but very quickly we made a steep ascent. It started off manageable but then there was a rocky scramble to get up to the cave that we were there to explore.

I had no idea that the scramble was going to be as intense as it was. All the rocks around us were loose and with every step I took, I felt myself sliding backwards.

I looked back and realized that if I slipped, I was going to roll down this mountain and die.

Adrenaline fired through my body. After being on all fours for what felt like a lifetime and crawling my way through the steeper sections, I managed to get up to the top. When I did, my hands were shaking, and my knees felt weak.

I wanted to ask my girlfriend why the hell we were doing such a dangerous trail! I wondered if a helicopter could come and pick us up because I was scared of how I was going to get down.

Before we started our descent, I remember thinking that right now the money that was stolen didn’t mean anything. All that mattered was getting out alive and I would trade the money I had lost in heartbeat to make sure I could get down okay.

Now that’s called perspective.

Educate yourself about scammers: Create awareness for the ones you love who are most vulnerable.

Once I was back in Toronto, I went down a wormhole of YouTube videos about scammers. What I found was extremely disturbing. There are entire call centers that function like sales organizations that are working everyday to steal your money.

Here are some common scams to look out for:

1. Amazon Scam 1 – You will receive a very legitimate looking email notifying you that you have made a sizeable purchase from Amazon and that if you have not made the purchase, to call the number provided immediately. Don’t call the number, just login to your Amazon and check your most recent purchases. If the purchase is listed, contact Amazon directly.

2. Amazon Scam 2 – Generally scammers scrape the internet for customer information. They most likely will have your email address. They may call you stating that the payment for your subscription hasn’t gone through or some other lie. They put your email address into the login bar on the Amazon website, hit the reset password button and tell you that they are sending you a one-time code that you need to provide them to verify your identity. If you do, voila, they have access to your Amazon account and if you have a credit card associated, they make quick purchases of gift cards or try to get your credit card information. Never provide a one-time pass code to anyone over the phone.

3. Gift Card Scam – If anyone ever calls and tells you to refund them using gift cards or go out and buy gift cards and provide the information, hang up the phone. Gift cards are very hard to trace and once it is done, say goodbye to your money.

4. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam. This is when an automated voice calls to tell you that the CRA requires you to make an immediate payment.

5. The Royal Canadian Mounty Police (RCMP) scam. This is when someone calls with a stern voice telling you that you will be arrested in a few hours if you don’t make an immediate payment of X amount.

6. The Computer Security Scam – If you get a pop-up saying that your device has been infected and you have to call a Microsoft number for support immediately, shut that shit down, and continue doing what you were doing.

These are few of the most common scams and you can bet your fuzzy peach that these scam centers are run by “businessmen” who come together often to figure out what new scam they can capitalize on.

Canadians lose 19 million dollars to scammers annually. You might not fall for it, but people who you love might. Spread the word.

A quick shout out to Jim Browning, a real-life hero, who was responsible for bringing down an entire call center in India that was doing about 3 million USD a month in scams. He has a YouTube channel, which you can find by typing in his name. Also, there is Pierogi who has the channel scammer payback which is phenomenal and there are many others who are working behind the scenes to save innocent people from losing thousands of dollars daily.

During this difficult time, it brought me solace to know that there are people who are looking out to protect those who are most vulnerable.

The Call: WorldRemit Strikes Back

Every once in a while, something happens that reconfigures the way we see the world. These events generally fall on a spectrum of extremes of either calamity or grace.

This is a story of grace.

While my aunt had been on hold with the bank’s fraud department for two hours, WorldRemit’s system had crashed for two hours at the same time!

After four days, they were able to provide a written confirmation that none of the 26 transfers had gone through. The scammers had not gotten a cent and we would receive all our money back.

Today, on July 2nd, as I write this, I got all my money back.

Between the time that the money was stolen and the time it was being processed for retrieval, which took three weeks, I kept saying to myself, “even though we are getting the money back, I am not the same man that I was three weeks ago.”

I didn’t want to be someone who was angry and resentful. I didn’t want to feel like a victim or be distrusting and paranoid. Most of all, I didn’t want someone or something to blame.

After I retrieved the money and it was back in my bank account, my faith in the world has been restored ten times over for what was temporarily lost.

I can safely say, I am not the same man I was three weeks ago. My hope is that I am a better one.


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