Verifying Blue Lights

in Reflections2 months ago

I got a funny call today from an unknown number. I normally hang up on them if they are not from a Finnish number as they are various "investment scam" calls. And the Finnish ones are normally a phone or electricity company looking to hook me as a customer. I was sitting with colleagues talking when the call came and even though a Finnish number, I hung up. A moment later, they called back again, and after a few rings, I decided I would answer after all, just in case.

It was the police.


The last time the police called for me, it was actually about a crime I had been implicated in. There had been a spate of thefts in a small town, and my numberplate had been reported as the likely suspect. When they called they essentially told me that I was suspected of these crimes, and then started asking questions about my comings and goings in the town. I told them I did indeed visit the town regularly, usually once a week on a Wednesday to teach English classes, at a factory of a defense force company that makes weapons systems in the town. Even as a contractor, I had to have security clearance from the Security and Intelligence service to work there.

"It probably isn't you then."

Seems I was suspected of the crime by a local, based on me being colored.

That went through my head when the guy mentioned it was the police, because in my experience through life, I haven't had many good experiences with the police. However, this time I wasn't the suspect, I was the complainant.

We were getting ready to renovate the kitchen, were choosing lights, and we had our eyes on some Finnish design ones. However, they are an old light and while they can be bought new, there are also several of them usually available second hand, so to save about 50% on them, we decided to buy that way. However, after doing my due diligence on the seller (they had 8 years of experience supposedly), talking with them through the messaging service, and finally sending the money to a Finnish bank account - the light (needed two, they had one) never came, and the contact was dead. The site couldn't/ wouldn't do anything unless I filled out a police report. So, I reported them.

That was in mid-2022.

I didn't report them in the hope of getting anything back, but I just hate scamming pricks and at least this way, that account will be blocked and might save someone else some hassle.

So, the police office today asked if I remembered filing, and of course I did, because the asshole had cost me about €300 (Even with this, we saved over 50% after all, as we ended up going with different and much cheaper lights). But, the police wanted to know if I was willing to fill a questionnaire for them about the crime, that they would send to me, and I was like sure - still knowing that it isn't going to get me anything.

He asked if he could send it by email, confirmed my email and then asked for the end of my social security number, to confirm my identity.


Now, just so you know, the Finnish social security number isn't like in some countries where it has to be kept completely secret. When I first came here, at times using a card over a certain limit at the supermarket, or getting a return or something, you would have to write the ending on the receipt. Which I found it weird. However, the first part of the number is a simple birthday format, with only the last 4 digits randomly assigned, or something.

But, I said to the police when they asked, "So how do I know that you are who you say you are? After all, this is a fraud and scam case, so I think I should be doubly cautious." He replied that I could see the number (which was just a random unlabeled number, but numbers can be spoofed anyway), and that he would have to be a "pretty good scammer" to go to this much detail. I verbally noted the irony of what he was saying.

But, I cut him a deal.

Okay, I will assume you are who you say you are, but how about you give me the last two digits of the social security number, and if they are correct, I will give you the first two.

He got them right.

So, I gave him the first two and we were good to go.

For me, I thought the conversation was pretty funny, but I could hear that he was at first a little annoyed that I didn't trust him. Finns consider themselves trustworthy, and they also have a culture that values being treated fairly. When they feel that they have been wrongly accused of something, they will complain, and defend themselves, as if the accuser should know their personality. The irony is, that in the first couple years I was in Finland, I would get pulled over once or twice a month for a "random check" and then once they saw my Australian driver's license (I have a Finnish one now), they would let me on the way with a smile. Now, in twenty years of driving here, most of my Finnish friends have never been pulled over by the police.


While I have bought second hand stuff before from the same site, this was the first time that I had bought something that was going to be shipped, and I felt like an idiot for getting ripped off, as if I "should have known" - however, I think that there should be some duty of care on the side of the site itself, because there are plenty of ways for them to have verification of the buying and selling accounts, but they don't.

Finland has a million ways for businesses to verify, and they have many ways where they can handle transactions securely too, but of course, the site doesn't want that responsibility. I won't by something that requires shipping again from there, only in-person pickups, but this limits the value of the site, as I am not going to drive far for something.

Anyway, the call got me thinking a bit of various experiences of getting scammed in life, and while it hasn't been often, and it hasn't been for much, it is also incredibly frustrating to get scammed at all. However, like normal, the hook is usually the chance to save, or to get something for free.

Ever been scammed? Got a story?

[ Gen1: Hive ]


Scams are pretty common in the Philippines. When I was younger people would call on the telephone pretending to be a relative, and would ask people to transfer money for an emergency. We also have online scams, where people need to be careful about buying cellphones. At one point they needed to video themselves opening the package, because there have been cases where there was only a brick instead of a phone.

I think we live in a pretty strange world in many ways. One is that this kind of scam behavior is still so common. The other is that we have so many ways to stop it, but we don't employ them.

I agree. Although I think the ways to stop them would usually override some laws. Which makes things difficult.

I was trying to buy some chairs for camping and I found a place via Facebook that had a price I just couldn't pass up. Turns out it was too good to be true and although they said my items had shipped, upon further research, the place was a total scam.

I hate that crap. They go to a lot of effort to make sites look real - but once reported, wouldn't they just get blocked by Google or whatever?

Yeah, you would think the vetting on some of that stuff would be a little better. It didn't take much more than a quick Google search to realize we had been taken.

I’ve yet to be successfully scammed. In part because I never answer the phone unless it’s someone I know. Anything else can go to voicemail.

And having grown up in New Jersey, I’m probably more cynical than average. That probably saved me a few times in the pre-smartphone era. 😁

I have never been phone scammed, but this light thing annoys me! I knew there was a risk, but this requires signing in with bank details to use the site - ridiculous!

You are not the only friend I have been scammed several times online once buying the phone I got a box with stone I was very angry and reported the identity number and the bank account to which I had been transferred and it turned out that they were organized gangs from prison Another I remember was a cryptocurrency broker page in which I invested money and then they sent you a message that to withdraw you had to make a deposit of 20% of the investment that was when I said I had been robbed since then I am very cautious.

I heard a story about someone doing these kinds of things because they were already on their way to prison. They had two months before going, so they just pretended to sell a lot of stuff and then spent the money...

I enjoyed reading your story. That's how it feels like when you life among people who aren't you native. They suspect everything, even what you eat.

That is absurd! Why will police just suspect someone because he's not their own local? Anywhere, that is obtainable everywhere. 😀 We too, we look at other nationals as terrorist

Depends on skin color :)

I also got alot of spam calls or messages but it don't make me scared 😀. But I also hate these type of stupidity from people's

I don't answer most of them, but the Finnish ones I do, because it is much more likely to be something important - like my daughter's school.

Scams are extremely common here in Nigeria and that’s why we have a kind of bad image. I don’t even like to buy things online anymore cos I would not like to be scammed
Also, I’ve never had an encounter with the police before…

Is there a strong online trade there?

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