Someone tried to “scam” me recently. There is an attempted scam once again making the rounds. Someone called on my home telephone, claiming to be a member of a security team at Microsoft. In other calls they have said they have detected a number of “error messages” on a person’s system, indicating repeated attempts to hack the system. The result, they say, will be a “frozen” computer with a highly corrupted hard drive. They instruct the potential victim to log onto their computer and provide personal information, after which they say, they will provide a “fix”. Sometimes they will take control of the computer and steal personal data. Sometimes they will offer new software, at an exorbitant price, to fix it. Either way, it is a fraud.
No security expert would call from a computer company. They don’t know what is on someone’s computer. They simply want to steal. I have received this type of call twice before. Because I knew it was an attempted crime I simply hung up. This time, I admit, I confronted the caller with the fact that I knew it was a scam, then I hung up.
We have an enemy who is always trying to scam us. The Devil, Satan, wants to steal our soul. At the very least he wants to steal from us our character, our reputation, our effectiveness in serving God, our joy and our power. He does not have to destroy us, though he would like to. All he really needs to do is neutralize us.
He will try to convince us that he knows what is best for us, or that we ourselves know better than God what is best for us. He will try to tease us with the pleasures he says are to be found in sin, and with the lure of personal independence. He will claim there are no negative consequences to sin, that no one will get hurt or that no one will even know what we are doing. He will tell us that if we ignore God and His commands we will be infinitely happier. Restrictions on our behavior, he will claim, take away the happiness we all desire.
Satan begins by planting thoughts of certain behaviors in our minds. He encourages us to fantasize, to plan how we might do certain things and get away with them. Gradually he will seek to wear us down, and confront us with opportunities to do the very thing about which we fantasized. Never, never will he show the tragic, devastating outcome of sin.
But he is a liar. His work is a scam. There are no positive outcomes to listening to Satan. The computer scammers want us to believe they are our friends. In fact they want to steal us blind. Satan wants us to believe he has our best interests at heart when in reality he is exactly as Jesus described him. In John 10:10 Jesus said, “...The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy.”
The keys to not being victimized by an internet scammer are alertness, knowledge, carefulness and resistance. The key to dealing with temptation is the same. Reliance on Christ is our great protection against the cosmic scammer.
Stewart B. Simms, Jr.