Perils of Watching A Movie In A Hotel Room…

So there Bill and I were celebrating his 92nd birthday at a Marriott hotel in San Francisco, at the end of a long day, pleasantly weary, wanting to watch Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon.
I navigated through the user-unfriendly menu on the big television screen…got Prime Video. All was going well—Ronald Colman had a dashing moustache, the Chinese rebellion was fascinating—when my cell phone rang.
Clearly the caller was in India. Something about the fact that in 2017 I’d paid Amazon $80 to watch Prime movies…
“Uh, sorry…we’re up to date with Amazon Prime—”
“Ma’am, no, it’s been five years, you must pay Amazon $80 to watch the next five years. On second thought, would you like to make sure you can watch for ten years without worrying? That would be–”
“Sir, I am nearly 87 years old. Five years is plenty.”
“Thank you, Ma’am. Now if you’ll just–”
Bill kept asking what was going on, I wanted to watch the movie so I impatiently waved him away. When I finally told him what the man wanted, he said, “It’s a scam! Sylvia, hang up! Darling!”
Puh-leese. Good Old Sylvia can sniff out a scam…I continued to ignore him.
“Ma’am, look on your phone in the app, just put in your card—or perhaps you want to use PayPal?”
“I don’t want to use PayPal!” So I typed in my Amazon Premium Big Deal One Of Our Best Customers credit card number.
Bill: “Sylvia, please listen to me! Hang up!”
How could it be a scam?–Amazon knew we were in a hotel room watching their precious Prime video. There it was on my cell phone screen, official as could be.
Rattled, in a hurry, by mistake I hit the PayPal option, could not undo it. By now it had been ten long minutes, Bill was moaning and barking at me, so I just clicked off. The movie continued smoothly.
Following night as we were starting to watch Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer in Gaslight, another call from India.
“Ma’am, you…”
“Go away! We’re watching a movie!” I clicked off. Really!
Last night, happy to be home, over cold supper my lawyer daughter, engineer son-in-law, engineer/helicopter pilot grandson, vascular surgeon grandson’s partner heard the story, and to a man/woman cried “Scam!!! Cancel your credit card at once! Mom! Sylvia! Grandma!!!”
Did I feel like a feather-brained old woman?
I apologized to Bill. Ate crow along with my beet salad and cold chicken.
Before going to bed, called in a block on my credit card.
In the morning, for a mercy there were no false charges on the card.
But indeed, Mr. Singh did charge $89.99 (he lied about it being $80) on my PayPal account that first night—the second night his colleague in crime, Mr. Kaur, charged another $89.99. By great good fortune, both fees still were pending.
(As an aside, I just went to one of my favorite websites, Behind the Name, and learned that the Indian name “Kaur” is a female equivalent of “Singh.” The same man called twice.)
Well, it took hours, but the young lady at PayPal cancelled both transactions then closed my PayPal account. The young lady at Chase Bank cancelled my cherished card, promised another will arrive in a few days.
Because Mr. Singh/Kaur might have seen/probably saw the email address associated with my PayPal account, I had to go into Gmail and fuss around, invent a new address, direct all letters from my longtime address to arrive at—and be sent from—the new one. The address will confound friends.
Despite my emerging relatively unscathed, troubling mysteries remain:
~how did someone in India inveigle himself into an Amazon prime video account?
~how did someone in India know we were watching from a hotel room?
~how did someone in India get my gmail address?
~how did someone in India get my cell phone number?
Where lies the security breach? Marriott? Amazon? both?
My science teacher son says, “Mom, there are no secrets anymore. Everybody knows everything.”
My takeaway?
Believe that a big corporation would not ring you up in the middle of the night asking for money.
Listen to your sensible not-as-trusting-as-you-are spouse.
Listen to that still small voice saying, “Hey, maybe…but what if…perhaps you’d better…?”
Savor a good helping of humble pie—crow’s not enough…
Oy.

1 Comment. Leave new

  • Mark Tarpey-Schwed
    April 12, 2022 5:00 pm

    So sorry you had to waste your time over this scam. Hope your visit to SF was a happy one.

    Reply

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