On December 23, 2021, I got an email from my boss.
He was asking me for a favour. He wanted to surprise the staff with $500 gift cards as Christmas bonuses via email. And he wanted me to be part of this surprise since he didn't have the time.
I had to buy the gift cards and email them to him. That way, he can email it to staff members to surprise them.
This all seemed fine. My boss was working from home and dealing with a minor emergency. So I understood he couldn't be able to execute his surprise gift by himself. And he reassured me that he would reimburse me.
So I went out and bought $4000 worth of gift cards and emailed it to him. A couple of hours later, he asks me to get some more, and I do.
He made the same request the next day, and I did it without question. I sent my boss $16,500 in gift cards by email.
And as we discussed over email, he promised to reimburse me and asked me for my banking details. I told him I would text him that. And when I did, my boss texted me back, 'okay.'
A few days went by, and my boss didn't reach out for the reimbursement. Since it was the Christmas holiday break, I decided to text him over email.
My boss was utterly confused by text messages. He didn't understand what I was referring to. I tried explaining, but he still wasn't getting it. So I told him I would deal with it after the Christmas break.
He calls me. And he tells me that I was the victim of a phishing scam.
My heart sank. I was praying this was a sick joke and asked him if he was joking.
And it wasn't a joke. I got scammed for $16,500.
The worst part. I had to tell my wife I ruined our 2022.
She was devastated but at the same time trying to console me. It was a horrible day. I tried calling my credit card companies to see if they could do anything, but they couldn't.
They told me I was the one who went out, bought the gift cards, and sent them to them.
I was heartbroken. I had to accept that I lost $16,500 and had to pay it all back. I started panicking. I didn't know how to pay all that back.
I thought about getting a second job and finding a new higher-paying job. I was all over the place.
Yet, I decided to pay back the debt with my current job. Which meant no vacations, no boxing classes, no eating out, etc.
I accepted my fate. I went back to work after the Christmas break. I saw the gift cards and receipts stashed on my desk in my office. Looking at them made me sick, so I threw them in the trash.
When my boss returned to the office, he wanted to see me. He told me he spoke to a security expert, and they told him to contact the gift card company.
I thought this was pointless, but I did it anyway. I contacted the gift card company and told them what had happened. They asked for some basic information, and I provided it to them.
A couple of weeks went by, and they reached out to me. They wanted me to complete a dispute form for each gift card. I had to provide the visa gift card number, expiration date, CVC number, and receipts.
But I threw out the gift cards! I didn't know what to do. How could I fill out the dispute forms without the gift cards and receipts?
Then I realized. I emailed the gift cards and receipts to the scammer. So I went into the sent folder in my email and got all the information for the dispute forms.
I filled out 33 dispute forms. It was tedious, but I completed them. A couple of weeks go by, and I get one dispute result back in my email.
It told me that the dispute was in my favour and they would reimburse me for one $500 gift card.
A week later, another dispute result comes back, and it's in my favour.
Over 12 weeks, each dispute was coming back in my favour. I was able to get all my money back.
There was only one issue. All the money would be in gift cards.
Which was annoying but a slight nuisance. I was ecstatic that every gift card came in my favour.
Yes, I was lucky. Yes, I was stupid. Yes, I learned a valuable lesson.
And the reason I told you this story is to let you know that I am human. No matter all the work I did on myself, the books I read, and the things I do to help myself.
I can still make a bone-headed mistake. But that doesn't take away from the progress I've made. It reminds me of how human I am.
So if you've made a mistake and feel bad about it, don't be hard on yourself. It happens to all of us.
And if it makes you feel better. Tell yourself that you didn't get scammed $16,500 like the Charismatic Nerd. Until next time, Bulcha The Charismatic Nerd