I’d love to tell you that I always respond appropriately to absurdity, but I often just hang up the phone and shake my head, formulating how I will respond if the situation ever arises again.
So I am totally prepared if someone ever calls me a Nigerian scammer (again). I certainly wasn’t ready for it the last time. Here’s roughly how it went down:
Me: I’m in full time ministry with (well-known International Missions Agency) and I got your name from Jill and Bobby Griswold when I met them last week as somebody interested in hearing more about my ministry. Did I catch you at a good time to chat for a few minutes?
Her: Oh sure.
Me: Great! We are in the process of meeting with folks like Jill and Bobby, sharing with them what we do and how they can be involved both financially and prayerfully. I think you’d be excited to hear about what God is doing through our ministry. My presentation generally lasts about 30 minutes. I’d love to swing by on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and share more.
Her: Oh, we don’t give to people we’ve never met. I got scammed out of some money once by email.
Me: Oh. Um. OK. But…
Her: Have a nice day. (dialtone)
Now that’s just good comedy. Really? You got scammed out of some money, so now you won’t give to anything at all? I just name-dropped a friend of yours. Call them and ask if they really gave me your name.
Because if there is one thing scammers don’t do, it’s ask for referrals.
How would that work? After I’ve taken them for a few hundred bucks that they thought was going to earn them 5 million dollars, I call back with a survey on their experience, and ask if they know any other gullible people? “We’re looking for some real suckers, or perhaps people that you dislike who are wealthy.”
Other notable differences between me and a Nigerian scam artist:
I can speak in the same language as you. Not only that, but I can do so in complete, unbroken sentences.
You can pronounce my name. In fact, you probably have a friend with the same name. Puff Daddy released a single in 1998 with my name prominently featured. My last name is a first name, thereby doubling my recognizability as an English speaker who also lives in the same city as you.
I am trying to meet with you on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. I am not interested in you sending money before we meet. I haven’t been ambiguous in the least regarding my desire to meet face to face before any money changes hands.
The number I just called you on is extremely traceable. It will lead authorities directly to my front door. And then I will try and set up a time to meet with them to share about my ministry, because hopefully they are not as absurd as you are being right now.