4848301770_178a68703aIt started when I received an email from a company from another country – I’ll call them ADRS. ADRS claims (says something is true) to be a domain registration service (a business that helps other businesses). When you operate a web site, you have to register (put on an official list) your domain name – like or – and pay a small fee (amount of money) each year to protect it so no one else can use it.

In the email, ADRS told me that a company from their country wanted to register “successfulenglish” to use in that part of the world. And they wanted to know if I had authorized (said it’s okay) them to do so.

I replied with a short email that said “‘Successful English’ is protected by U.S. trademark (a special business name or sign that can’t be used by other businesses) laws. I have not, nor do I intend (plan) to authorize anyone else to use it.”

Later that day I received a second email from ADRS. In it they included a list of “successfulenglish” domain names with different top-level domains (such as .org, .net) and country codes (such as .us (U.S.), .cn (China), .ru (Russia)). They asked me if those names were important to me and suggested that I register all of them with ADRS to protect them and avoid confusion.

Suddenly it struck me (I realized, understood): I was being scammed! Or, to use an older word, I was being conned. The person who wrote me the email is what we call a confidence artist – sometimes called a con artist or con man. He tried to get my confidence (trust) by asking if I had given another company – probably not a real company – permission to use the “successfulenglish” domain name in that part of the world. And he acted like he wanted to help me protect my brand name (the particular business name I use). The truth is, he just wanted my money.

According to Wikipedia, “confidence man” was first used in about 1850 in New York City to describe William Thompson. Thompson was accused (to say someone is guilty of a crime) of chatting (talking casually) with strangers he met until they seemed to be comfortable with him. Then he’d ask them if they trusted him enough to loan him their watches. When they did, he walked off with the watches. He was caught when one of his victims recognized him on the street and alerted (informed) the police.

The last few years there has been an infamous (well-known for something bad) telephone scam here in the U.S., called the “Rachel from Cardholder Services” scam. People would receive robocalls (automatic recorded telephone messages) from a pleasant-sounding woman who identified herself as “Rachel from Cardholder Services.” She would encourage the listener to push “1” on their phone to learn how to get lower interest (the extra money you pay when you borrow money) rates (amount in percent) on their credit cards.

People who responded (did what she suggested) to Rachel’s call were connected with a sales person who tried to get them to pay $500 to $1500 to receive the low rates. Unfortunately, once they got the money, they did nothing. Fortunately, the government stopped the scam last year and fined (made to pay money as punishment) the people involved in it more than ten million dollars.

Have you had experiences like these? Are robocalls a problem where you live?

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo by ivanpw used under Creative Commons license.



This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Scammed!

  1. Dan says:

    Hey Warren, how was your holiday? mine was frugal.

    I was looking Gov. Christie’s press conference on the bridge scandal.

    I had a similar experience recently that made me swear/curse quite a bit.

    I was reading the news on my smartphone when all of a sudden here it pops out a website about astrology. I hate that beep!

    After a wile I receive a text message claiming I have activated a service and I am going to get a couple of text a week at the cost of €5.

    Since I had NOT activated the “service” I do not bother and go on.

    After a while here it comes the first text message. Followed by a great amount of cursing.

    Pick up the phone and call my phone operator, ’cause it seems absurd to me that anyone is able to activate services on my number like that.

    To make it short, I have found out, reading online, that I have the option of noticing my Operator to deactivate this so called “services” coming from specific numbers.

    I got my €2.50 back! Dan. V. crook= Dan 1 crook 0 I won.


  2. emiliano says:

    Unfortunately they are, hundred of these kind of …. you may call them as you like.

    Living in a country like this where nearly everything is allowed Spain has changed
    to the ideal country to do all kind of defrauds.

    What is worst nothing change and these kind of people are every site, internet,
    phones, door by door calling, cheating old persons or retired that know little
    about receipts, comapnies and so on.

    We are living among all kind of cheatings, and we need to be alert continuosly.

    Like Dan I have a similar episode.

    Thank you Warren, it is a good subject of write about.


  3. WangLuu says:

    Warren, I see those scams quite often while surfing on the internet
    sometimes there is a little interface pops up on my screen that claims I has won a million dollars award and ask me to sign up to a website to receive the award
    but I always put my guard on with those things so I haven’t accepted their suggestions yet 😀 lucky me!

  4. hanmi says:

    Hello there, it’s bright and very cold day.
    Telephone scam using exposed personal information has cheated us for years.
    It’s not a good solution(individually) to ignore a calling unknown number.
    After I got unfamiliar calls for family emergency, I speak to every call.
    But the messages kind of something criminal or credit make me uncomfortable for a while.
    Giving my number is my pleasure for nice people but is a bomb for sweepstakes,sometimes.

  5. Parviz says:

    Hi every body,

    Scams are dime a dozen nowadays.
    For every one using internet or register in different blogs or websites, some fortune seekers may try to advantage of our emails.
    It happens to every body, and it happened to me not less than 20 times, when I got an email from someone telling me to do “X in order to get Y”.
    For example, few years ago I was informed by a friend of a program implemented by US State department about green card lottery.
    AS many other people, I also submitted for the program.
    Over the course of less than one year, I get a whole slew of scam emails, from different people telling me that “I won the lottery and I was required to put some money
    in someone’s account to make the work running.
    After I got the first email, which I received only a few months of my experience of being ever on the internet, I decided to seek help from a pal friend whom I was chatting to sometimes.
    And she Told me to ignore the message.
    And I did ignore the message as I was told.
    Ever since I have received more than a hundred of this scams, thanks my friend I have kept out of trouble.
    I hope none of this scams ever happen to you guys.

  6. Adrian says:

    In Poland, and what I’m reading no not only in Poland there is a game called “shell game”.

    There are a host and people who pretend to be customers or gamblers who win money playing in it.

    Once you are conned into playing, you are cheated and lose your money.

    Game consists of usually three cups (or substitutes) and a small, round ball.

    The ball is covered with one of the cups by host who changes a place of ball by constant moving and changing cups.

    At first, when fake players take part in this game they won, and when you decide to try your hand at it, you’re deceived and you lose.
    Some people even try to win back what they lost.

  7. Myo ko ko says:

    Hi Warren
    You said it!
    I receive a slew of email scams every month.
    Just now I’ve finished checking out the spam Inbox in my email program and saw that a total of 65 new email scams have arrived.
    When I receive email scams, I simply and kindly delete them and give no further correspondence to the senders because they’re well-known for collecting personal information and the nefarious people behind them make use of these info in cheating other suckers, especially young, unexperienced, aged people who are not savvy of on-line security.

    Having said that, sometimes I do read those unsolicited emails for my English acquisition!
    You know it calls for skillful use of words to get someone trusted in you and there you get how it’s done! 😉

    Thanks Warren, as always,
    Myo ko ko

  8. Tania says:

    Hi! Well to know about any kind of internet attack.
    It’s an hysteria in my country regarding “Guciffer” virus that attacked Yahoo net.
    I can’t access my e-mail.
    All personal data, our bank accounts, all on line payments are in danger.
    We’d like to know more on this subject.

  9. Tania says:

    Hi! I now understand the Adriano’s work regarding the security of our ESLPod site and our blog.

    Happy New Year, dear Adriano!
    All our appreciation.

  10. emiliano says:

    Puff, Tania, that´s new “Guciffer”?

    I have the Norton antivirus in the pc., as I have not the Mac any more since the poor
    can´t continue working.

    Now it is a pc., with the horrible window 8, Dan sorry I can´t do what you said to me,
    and the pc. has its own life doing what it want, changing the words and nearly

    I have paid for the antivirus such a lot because I have several things in the pc. and
    some how it is like my mind now, I can´t lost it.

    Now I have my first story in it and it is very important despite it is also in ESL archives
    and that is quite sure…….yes, I am more quiete thinking that.

    Happy new year Tania, how is the Winter in your dear forest? and the snow?

    My best to you dear friend, you know we all love our poet very much.


  11. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    How is it to live in this damned world? Of course I have found this kind of attack here in Brazil every day. The only thing they want is money but I don’t click on mistrustful message. Sometimes I pretend to trust for a moment but soon I put them out of the bag.
    Aecio from the nation recognized to be wonderful.

  12. lilian says:

    Hi Emiliano
    The more you continue your story the more I get involved and feel familiar with it. I am very happy that at last you had a beautiful and lovely life and never regret your choice.yes we don’t no what will happen to us ,our destiny is like a mom used to tell me previously :Que sera you ,when I get married I was about to leave my country and go to the America with my only brother ,I thought nothing could change my mind but as you said ,we don’t know about our destiny. ..everything changed and suddenly I decided to marry with someone who was and of course is very patriot and I could never persuade him about leaving Iran . My own life is very strange to me ,sometimes I can’t realize why I get married with someone who’s thoughts are very different from mine.I am an easygoing person ,I don’t care about what is going on I just try to live in the moment,I never care what others do and think ,just try to live my life but in many ways my husband is in the contrary with much as I don’t care he cares and as much as I am easy going he is strict but in spite of that we don’t argue very much and that’s because of me.i never talk to someone when he or she is angry ,I always prefer not to talk and leave the place ,but my husband either like and dislike that with me.he says it’s very good that you don’t let anyone see your nervousness but In addition we never be able to come to an agreement because you escape whenever you have to discuss. He might be right but I think I can never change his ideas so if I want to be with him I have to accept them with him but since I cannot change my viewpoints too I rather not to discuss .
    Dear Emiliano I told them to you because your sights are very important to me. So please if you have any opinions let me know. It would be your kindness to me.

  13. emiliano says:

    I know what you mean perfectly well, haven three daughters the only one who is happy married it is the first, but to get this
    statue she has to strugle in life just a lot.
    The other two live alone so yes I know that life for a girl or a woman in a good company, just a man who understand a woman
    of today, it is difficult.
    Everything has changed so fast that we men have not time to react accordingly and we are two or three meters behind women
    It is clear that a girl or a woman with personality has not to support a man without flexibility to understand her and to know
    life is different now and girls or woman are different from our mothers.
    Usually the mind of a woman is more clear, and more advanced, that the mind of a boy or a man, take note of this boys it is
    so. Girls are more inteligent, girls study more, get better notes, and now have more personality.
    Mind of the girls have evolutioned faster than men as it seems to me they are living in the past and it is posible than in some
    countries men are even more reluctant to change their mind respect the treatment of their women or girls.

    I don´t really know what is happening in Iran as it is a clouse country for us, so I can´t say anything without know how life
    is where you live Lilian, but having in mind what you said I do think it hapens more or less this, your mind is more free and
    open that his mind, this will be always a great problema that are not giving you happines, sorry but I think so.

    Your eaducation is differnte, more free, your mind is more open than his and the great contrast or problema will be when you
    have to teach your daughter, this could be the worst and in that point it is sure there will be problems.

    It will be necessary to have a strong carácter, by you of course, to teach your daughter in the way yout understand it is the
    best for her but think you´ll have the enemy at home. What to do?, I think it will be an inteligent task for you, just to have
    your daughter confidence and rule her your way instead her father´s way more stricktly as you tell us.

    I think you need to be very inteligent, but it is sure you are as for the actitude you have when telling us your actions here to
    your friends, only I could tell you be firm, nice, have he mouth shut, don´t reply him in public, and do wich ever thing you
    like without telling nothing. It is necessary not to have the fight at home, this is clear my dear fríend Lilian.

    Be sure that you are more inteligent, usually women are, than him and it is yout task to educate your daughter in the right
    sense of freedon.

    My best dear Lilian.


  14. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Emiliano, thank you for your wishes.
    I agree with all our blog friends . Please, continue telling your nice and true love story.

    Best wishes,


  15. Dan says:

    Hello everyone,

    Today, as I got up and turned the radio on, there was an interesting piece related to robocalls.

    That was on NPR, a program called On the media, and the title of it was: I am a real person.

    Hey there Lilian,

    I would like to help you, but at the same time I do not like poking my nose in other people’s business.

    Reading your post, the most reasonable thing I can think of worth telling you is: just talk! talk and try to sort things out.


  16. Dan says:

    Politicians are some sort of “confidence man”.

    They want/need to win our trust in order to get the vote.

    After that, at times, not always, we get conned by them.

    That is kind of a legalized scam.


  17. Dan says:

    Just yesterday I got a robocall from my phone carrier.

    It was like: we have a special offer for you. To hear that press one, otherwise press two.

    I cursed and close down the call.

  18. lilian says:

    Thanks very much dear Emiliano
    Your Cuca is very lucky to have you,I envy her.again thanks for your advice.
    Hey Dan
    thanks for your means a lot to are my oldest friend here in esl and your words are very worthy for me.

  19. Øyvor says:

    Oh yeah, it happens here from time to time..but they can`t cheat me, for sure.. as I know English, thanks to you, I can hear from what country they origin,
    and once a man phoned to tell me something was wrong with my computer..I could easily hear it was something wrong, so I hung up after telling him that
    i would call the police– they made another try some days later..asked for my husband then.. well, they didn`t succed!!
    Be careful friends!!

  20. Øyvor says:

    Dear Emiliano..I hve to are way ahead of most of the men I have a lot of wisdom to learn from you..and yes, lucky wife of yours=)

    Thanks to all of you for blog posts, on this last one I found lots of new words and phrases.. how long have you been a member of these great ESLpod??
    I feel like you all know each other like a family..I´d like to be a part of it too.. wish we had a kind of chat forum.. as I see all these blog posts can be viewed
    when typing my name into the browser..wish it would be a private forum here=)

    Have a great day folks and thanks again!!

  21. emiliano says:

    Dear Oyvor, of course you are part of this blog chat, I know your post for long and only could say to you THANK YOU VERY MUCH, to me it is a honor
    to be praised so way for you Oyvor.

    My mother was a wise woman that keep me always in the right way while I was home, afterward I have the great luck of finding Cuca my dear “half orange”
    as we say here……media naranja…..may be because orange is the Spanish fruit by excelence.

    I had two sisters when living at home and being a father I had three daughters, so life have ben among girls and women. I consider women wiser than
    men by all means.
    Having Cuca ill for nearly forteen years and looking after her I have learn a lot about what a woman do in a house, and to keep everthing in order.
    So yes, I agree with you dear friend Oyvor that I could teach men just a lot, to love their wifes or couple and to know appreciate her work and labour as
    mother, friend, lover and wifes.

    Next September, I think it will be seven years writing in this ESL Blog, the best in fact, you may see that the first post here it is of somebody called
    Emiliano, of course me.

    A finally, YES, all of the blogers are like a big family to me and along the yars I had very good Friends from all over the world, of course you are
    one ot them being alwayin in the circle.

    I love your country absolutely despite the words and letters are so different, BUT MUSIC AND DANCE ARE GREAT, several times I have watched your
    dances and liesten to your music here in MADRID, Spain, and Cuca and me LOVE THEM.

    My best dear Oyvor and THANK YOU BY YOUR NICE WORDS TO ME.


  22. Betty says:

    Thanks Dear Warren for this article about Robocalls.

    “Robocalls” is a term used mainly in the US and Canada, I think.

    I am not aware of a special name for those call in UK. We just call them unsolicited calls, and cold calls.

    Last November when I was at my home in England I received too many robocalls that I resorted to register my phone number with “The Telephone Preference Service” (TPS) which is a central opt out register whereby individuals can register their wish not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls.

    It is a legal requirement that companies do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS.

    I will soon find out whether it is effective when I go back to my home in England next month.

    Robocalls are easy to deal with. I just put the phone down as soon as I realize it’s a robocall.

    In Hong Kong we have many people being scammed by phone, by strangers in the street, by shops, by loan sharks …….., far too many to list here.

    Thanks to you Warren for this article which prompted me to find out more about all the scams and unwanted calls in Hong Kong.

    In the process, I discovered Hong Kong Police Force has a webpage with heading “Common Con Tricks” which lists out so many scams for anyone visiting or living in Hong Kong to read and to guard themselves against the scams.

    I also found a “do-not-call registers” webpage by the Hong Kong government.

    Sorry Warren I must go now because I need to study the two websites very carefully and register my numbers immediately.

    Many thanks again and see you again soon.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  23. Betty says:

    Thanks Dear Emiliano for this special term “Half-Orange”.

    I learned about a term “lemon” when I was a teen. I loved Peter Paul And Mary’s song “Lemon Tree”.


    When I was just a lad of ten, my father said to me,
    “Come here and take a lesson from the lovely lemon tree.”
    “Don’t put your faith in love, my boy”, my father said to me,
    “I fear you’ll find that love is like the lovely lemon tree.”

    Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
    But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
    Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
    But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

    One day beneath the lemon tree, my love and I did lie
    A girl so sweet that when she smiled the stars rose in the sky.
    We passed that summer lost in love beneath the lemon tree
    The music of her laughter hid my father’s words from me:

    Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
    But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
    Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
    But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

    One day she left without a word. She took away the sun.
    And in the dark she left behind, I knew what she had done.
    She’d left me for another, it’s a common tale but true.
    A sadder man but wiser now I sing these words to you:

    Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
    But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
    Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
    But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

    Now forget about lemons in New York, US, we have Oranges in Spain.

    In “” I found a book called “Meeting Your Half-Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to…”
    by Amy Spencer

    Here are some positive review comments about the book:

    “Tired of finding all the lemons in the dating world? Then, you might want to pick this juicy book off the tree of dating self-help books. It’s a refreshing pick, for sure, and it’ll likely quench your thirst for a satisfying relationship–or in the very least, for an entertaining and uplifting read.

    The approach in this book focuses on “dating optimism”–the belief that what you focus on and think about is ultimately what you attract. Changing your thoughts results in changes your brain, body, perceptions of the world, and in what you attract. So, in a nutshell, if you focus on being the best person you can be, you’ll ultimately attract the best relationship you can have.

    And how exactly will this magical relationship happen? Amy’s quick answer to that one is: “It’s not your job to figure out how to make it happen. It’s your job to want it.” But, in case you want a little more guidance, she offers this five-step approach to dating optimism:
    1. Believe you can have it.
    2. Admit you want it, to yourself and others.
    3. Visualize, and imagine feeling yourself in the relationship you want.
    4. Openly hope for it like you’ve never hoped for anything before.
    5. Live your happy life.

    The fun conversational style of this book is effective: it not only provides easy-to-drink-in inspiration and support for meeting your half-orange, but it also effectively delivers juicy bites from the emerging field of positive psychology.

    You can even approach this book as the author recommends you approach your dates: be curious, learn from it, and allow it to help you pinpoint what you really want (and don’t!) in a relationship. In the end, you’ll be better off than you were in the beginning…whether or not you’ve found your half-orange (yet).

    And, in the worse-case scenario, if you can’t figure out how to be with the one you (want to) love, you’ll be better able to love the one you’re with: yourself. (How’s that for dating optimism?)”


    “I devoured this book over the last few days. While there are bits and pieces that I wasn’t thrilled with, overall I think this is a fantastic book. In a nutshell it’s law of attraction and power of positive thinking meets dating. It’s written from the perspective of a woman looking to marry a man but also mentions right from the get-go that it’s meant for absolutely anyone looking for love. I think it might be a bit hard to get past the he’s and she’s if you’re not a straight woman, but will say that it’s worth the effort. If nothing else, reading this book should assist you in being more positive in life in general.”

    Thanks again Emiliano. Now I know about Oranges and Lemons.

    The thing is, I am too old and I am allergic to uncooked fruits.

    Thank God!

    Betty 😉

  24. emiliano says:


    Yes, it is a very popular saying in Spain to say……MI MEDIA NARANJA…..MY HALF ORANGE
    it seems that having the two halfs, of the same fruit, you have ONLY ONE ORANGE, and this
    fruit is the most significative from Mediterranean lands, and from the Spanish Lands……
    We export millions of oranges to Europe, specially to the NORTH OF EUROPE as they
    can´t have this nice, good, fruit with just a lot of VITAMIN C, necessary to fight against
    the SCURVY………

    scur·vy [skur-vee] Show IPA

    1. Pathology . a disease marked by swollen and bleeding gums, livid spots on the skin, prostration, etc., due to a diet lacking in vitamin C.
    adjective, scur·vi·er, scur·vi·est.

    When the Spanish ships, or other ships from Europe, travelled to America it was a big problema this disease of the scurvy, due to the diet in
    a ship lacking Vitamin C.
    So ORANGES were very impotant then and now if you want to supply the lack of this vitamin C., my dear Betty.
    Even you have LEMONS, Kiwis, or other nice fruits to supply the C vitamin, so necessary to us………………………………………

    The song is marvellous, I like the Lyric so much, but I LIKE LEMONS TOO, what a problema……

    CUCA IS ALWAYS A SWIFT ORANGE TO ME, now, before, and always she has been a nice refreshing sweet organge that I can have every
    day, every morning, for ever…..

    IN THIS ESL BLOG….a honor, a privilege to have you with us.


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