I almost got scammed last week. I’m embarrassed that I got taken so easily, but I was convinced that I had committed some unknown error on my taxes since 2009 and that the IRS had a warrant out for my arrest. I felt desperate and confused. I was driving home in an attempt to somehow get money to pay a portion of the over $5000 dollars that I supposedly owed. In a panic I called Marisa. Thankfully, she had heard of the scam and calmly told me not to worry – I was being scammed. I hung up the phone with the scammers and before feeling relieved felt completely violated. I couldn’t believe a human being could do this to another person. I also couldn’t believe that I was so gullible.
About a half hour later I decided to have some fun. I called the number back and told “Officer Christina Kelvin” (Badge ID # es1983, Case ID # DC28001) that I was officer White from the International Financial Terrorism Unit and that we knew where she was and would be coming for her soon. Apparently I wasn’t as clever as I thought since she didn’t buy it. I made a few calls like this and none of the “officers” took the bait. Apparently they weren’t quite as gullible as I was.
A little while later, however, I called the number and this time spoke with a man. After his initial “You’ve reached the IRS…” intro I simply said, “God sees you.” He repeated, “Sir, you have reached the IRS and…”
“God sees you.”
“God wants you to know that He sees what you are doing and you need to stop.”
“Who is this?”
“God sees you. You need to stop this. You’re hurting people and God has a better plan for your life.”
I spoke for 40 minutes with this man. I found out that he was in a pretty desperate situation. He wanted to believe that there was a better life for him but couldn’t see how. “I’m from a small village in Northern India, there’s nothing better for me.” As the conversation continued the man told me that he did, in fact, believe in God. He wanted to do good but he felt stuck and overwhelmed. He told me that he tried to take his own life twice. By the end of the conversation I prayed for him and took his email address. He wanted to give me his phone number too. I emailed him and waited to see if it would bounce back or not.
The next morning I woke up and saw that I had an email from the man that I had spoken with. His email read “Hello sir..thanks you dear friend.. I m getting big trouble in my life…”. Since the man’s full name was on the email I decided to check and see if he was on Facebook. Sure enough. The person I found on Facebook, however, wasn’t a man but a really young man. Fifteen, maybe. That’s when it hit me, many of the people making the calls were being used. Many of them are just desperate kids. They are taking advantage of people, to be certain, but they were also being taken advantage of. Things are rarely as simple as they seem.
When Jesus told us to love our enemies he knew that they were not faceless, nameless ideas. Rather, they are people who are perhaps not as different from us as we like to think. The lyrics to the song Brother by The Brilliance come to mind: “When I look into the face of my enemy I see my brother.” I’m not condoning scammers. Maybe I wouldn’t be writing this if they had successfully stolen money from me or someone I love. Still, they are people that Jesus loves and that we are called to love too.
(I’m in the process of trying to get help for this young man from a pastor in the area where he is staying – 8 hours from his family. I don’t know how this story will end but I believe God has a good future for this kid and does, in fact, see him.)