Like all terrible ideas, it started with a few pints of ale on a Friday evening.
Bill was certain that this was the scam to make them moderately wealthy. Not rich. Bill was a lazy man, but he wasn’t a stupid man. He lived in the real world.
‘This scheme will earn us a few bob from clowns who use computers, but know feck all about how they work. A few hundred euros here and there each week Kevin, we won’t be greedy.’ Bill signaled the bar man for two more.
‘And the reason it’ll work is, we’re local. No funny accents means less suspicion. Small amounts of cash and high volumes of calls. Easy money.’
Kevin cleaned the head off the fresh pint. It didn’t taste as good as the last one. It was bitter and warm. He thought about telling the barman, but Bill started in to the nitty gritty.
Kevin’s first job was to print out the fliers. A competition for a €100 gift card from the local Tesco. He’d then leave these fliers on the windshields of cars parked up for the county final on Sunday.
To the untrained eye it seemed like an ok offer. All you had to do was send an email to the fake address listed on the flier and include your name and contact number. Kevin and Bill would look after the rest.
On the Sunday evening the emails began to trickle in. By ten the next morning there were three thousand “entries”. Kevin wanted to start calling straight away, but Bill explained, ‘Not yet Kev, we wait a few weeks. Let them forget about it, assume some other jammy get won the voucher. They’ll move on with their lives. That’s when we’ll strike.’
Three weeks later Bill called over to Kevin’s house.
‘Today’s the day buddy. Let’s get cracking.’ He handed Kevin a list of people to call and a cheap pay as you go mobile. Simple to use. Untraceable. He also gave him an old fashioned cassette player and a blank TDK tape.
‘Play that when you’re on the calls Kev. It’s background noise from my old job in eir. It’ll be like you’re calling from a busy office.”
Kevin nodded, grabbed his weapons, and went in to his work station. His work station being the front hall.
At around two o’clock Bill called Kevin out to the kitchen for a feed of sandwiches.
‘How did you get on lad?’
Kevin shoved his own phone in to his pocket. ‘Yeah… I got on grand Bill. Easy pickings, you?’
Bill took a bite of his sandwich, chewed noisily. ‘I fiddled some silly wagon from Belturbet out of seventy euros. Told her that if she payed an extra thirty the speeds would be three times as fast.’ He burst out laughing, spraying tea and crumbs all over Kevin’s face.
Kevin wiped his face and laughed half-heartedly. ‘Ha, good one…the silly mare.’
Bill put down his tea and pulled his chair closer to Kevin’s. Kevin shifted on his seat.
‘What?’, asked Kevin.
Bill glared at him. ‘How much did you make Kev? There better be a couple of hundred coming in to the PayPal account.’
‘Yeah, yeah. I made enough. Don’t worry.’ Kevin pushed off from the table and made tracks for the toilet.
A nice relaxing pooh. That would take the edge off. He took out his phone and had a read of the latest headlines. No reports of an Internet scam targeting the vulnerable. Not yet anyway.
A car pulled up in the driveway. The front door was opened. With a key. A booming voice called up the stairs. ‘KEVIN O’REILLY!! GET YOUR ARSE DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW!’
A new evacuation was now on Kevin’s mind. That booming voice belonged to his dad, and he sounded very angry. Not a man to mess with.
The bathroom window was big enough to fit through, and the trellis on the wall was fairly secure. Kevin wiped and washed quickly, pulled up his jeans, and did his best Spiderman impression. A quick text to Bill:
Meet me at the pub. I fucked up.
Bill text back:
You absolute gowlbag. Your dad almost collared me.
The pub was deserted. Kevin was sitting in the snug sipping a pint of Guinness. ‘Look at him there’, thought Bill, ‘with a big stupid Fr Dougal Maguire head on him.’
‘Explain it now Kevin!’ Bill signalled the barman, ‘A pint and a wee one Seamus. This clob is paying.’
He eyeballed Kevin. ‘Talk.’
Kevin took a long pull of his pint, reached in to his pocket and threw out the cheap pay as you go mobile on the table.
‘This piece of shit. That’s the explanation.’
Kevin explained how earlier he turned the phone on and tried to make his first call. The number wouldn’t connect after three attempts, so he moved on to the next one. Same story. And it was the same story for the next few numbers. Frustrated, he called the mobile company. After an hour talking to an imbecile in their tech support team, and forty minutes on hold, he gave up. He turned the phone off and began calling people from his own phone.
‘Look Bill, I saw a name and a number on the list. There’s probably thousands of Gerry O’Reillys in Cavan. How was I supposed to know I’d call the one that happened to be my dad?’
Bill snorted. ‘You used your own phone. How did you not know it was your fucking Dad?’
Kevin sighed and looked at the floor.
‘I don’t know my Dad’s number off by heart man. Why would I? My phone is smart so I don’t have to be.’
Bill cursed in to his pint. It rhymed with Cupid stunt.
‘Ok’, sighed Bill,’ The game’s over. I’ll cancel the transactions. Obviously your ‘oul fella will want that done. I assumed that was the message he was screaming at me when I was hopping the garden wall.’
Kevin smiled. He was relieved. Crime wasn’t his scene. ‘Great. So what’ll we do with all the emails and stuff?’
Bill waved at Seamus for another round, and leaned forward towards Kevin, ‘Right, what we’ll do is…’
‘Here, you aren’t in the fucking Ritz. Get up the fuck and order your pints at the bar like everyone else!’ roared Seamus from the bar.
Bill was a lazy man, but he wasn’t a stupid man. He got up and walked to the bar.