Monday, February 15, 2010

#31 Do you trust an ex felon?

Do you trust an ex felon?

I bet everybody reading this is shaking their heads, not saying, “no” but likely saying, “HELL NO!”

I can understand that to some degree, there are many guys I did time with that I regret knowing, guys that I almost wish I could see on the streets now…but that isn’t me. I can get mad like anybody else, and I LOVE watching boxing, but I am not a physical guy. I think I have been in less than 5 fights my entire life…one was in prison. Got my lip busted pretty good for it too.

But before I continue, there is something I will attempt to do every now and then. Because I am currently blogging on 3 different blogs, (wordpress, xanga and blogspot) I will be making one of them my “anchor”. What I mean by that is that sometimes I will put unique blogs there, in an effort to draw readers to it and hopefully generate support. One way I will do this is by writing original short stories with prison themes in it. If you have followed my writing for some time, you know I have written several short stories before, with prison themes in it. Whether it was about Christmas, Mother’s Day or even Election Day, I have tried to get creative in an attempt to help my readers understand prison or an ex felon’s life.

I will try to do that in the future, with a short story I may title “Defending Job”. Its going to be a short story about a discussion some inmates are having about the Job from the Bible…might be interesting to some of you.

When I finish it, it will only be posted on one of the three blog sites, so keep that in mind.

Now, I asked if you would trust an inmate, interesting because earlier today I wrote a blog about trust, and challenged you about what you think you know about trust. We talked earlier about how those “made for television” ads often take advantage of your trust, yet we blindly give them the benefit of the doubt. Yet an ex felon trying to get his life back has to swim through hell with gasoline trunks before we consider him.

Let’s extend that thought for a sec, and how your kindness, or even “good manners” can land you in some trouble by no fault of your own.

Just about 30 minutes ago, I am watching my brother play some video games when the phone rang. I got up to check it out, and when I picked up the phone, I saw “private name” and a number on the Caller ID. When I turned the phone on to call, there was a dial tone, as if the person hung up. I almost ALWAYS pick up the phone on the second ring, just seems like good manners, sometimes the first ring. So it wasn’t about me being late.

I was bothered by this call because I didn’t recognize the number, and in fact we had actually received 2 or 3 of these calls in the last couple of weeks…odd since our phone number is not listed. I asked my brother if he recognized the number, then asked mom. Neither knew who it was. Something didn’t seem right, and I thought about just calling them back, but did not. Instead, I went online and googled “private name phone scam”.

I found an article about a lot of people talking about a different number, and how they were upset about it, and I saw another article on a very likely phone scam using this technique. It seems that this type of phone scam can rob you of a lot of money in the phone bill, because the number is NOT from the US…its from other countries like the UK, and some of the Caribbean Islands, as well as other countries.

The scam starts by getting your number, and calling. The second you pick up, it hangs up, leaving you wondering who might have called you. Even if you have caller ID, it would say only something like “private name” and the number.

Now, here’s where your trust is exploited….this coming from an ex felon, whom most people would not give the time of day….

You get hung up by an unknown number, and your “good manners” dictate that the sensible thing to do is to call the number back…call it manners, call it curiosity. But either way, THAT is what they are expecting you to do.

The second you call that number, you are rerouted to a different line which shoots outside the country. Since the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) does not, and CANNOT, regulate that phone line, those receiving that call can charge anything they want for your call. It could be $10, it could be $20, it could be $100...ANYTHING they want.

Guess who has to pay that? You.

This scam takes advantage of your manners or your curiosity, and it has very likely scammed hundreds of millions of dollars out of people. But the very basics of scams exist on a very key element…trust.

For a scam to work, they have to get you to trust them, either by kindness, ignorance or curiosity. Either way, if the end result is that they got something from you by ill gain, it is a scam.

In an odd way, I find this very…. Ironic, that I live in a world where I have to walk on air to prove myself again, but people will knock each other down to fall for a scam. We all do it from time to time, some bigger than others. It is so easy to label an ex felon and say to everybody, “don’t trust him”, but how much trust did you put in that private name when you redialed and got billed $75 for a 5 second call?

How much trust did you put in that “as seen on tv” commercial, where you ended up paying $80 for a product they promised was only $19.99?

Neither of those people ever said a word to you, nor did anything to try to help you, but we trust them without fail based on what? But here I am, wanting to try to help, and I have to start 20 steps back to try to convince you that I want to help.

There is a LOT we can discuss here folks, from prison canteen, prison grievance procedure, visitation, spiritual guidance, condemnation, stress, depression, hope, dreams, writing letters, and 1000 other things about prison. I am itching at the fingers to write about these things. But I can’t do that until you trust that I can help you.

Folks, its not like I am going to get your address and come visit you and ask you to give me some money. If you choose to support my blogs, that is on you, that is how I have always done that. You can do like a lot of people on those prison support sites and hide behind the scenes, reading everybody else’s post, or you can step up and speak.

My email is open to you, don’t be afraid to use it. Even if you are not sure about me, you can at least email me and say something like, “can you blog about prison food, I’d like to know what my son is eating”. Or how about this, if you are unsure about even EMAILING me, then make a nice comment on one of the blogs. You will see that I do sincerely address comments, if kindly done.

When you do, you will see that I am not like many people on other sites, copying and pasting 1 or 2 line sentences to rack up a post count. If you trust me, I just might be able to help you get through the day.

It’s your call.

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