Beware the Scammer

It was a couple a weeks ago now, as I was nonchalantly looking at the rental market up in Northern British Columbia, that I came across an ad that seemed to good to be true. I was delighted when I got a response almost within hours of my query to the ad. I was inspired, and felt hopeful glee, when I was told that this particular home was available, and that I was the only one who has responded. However, in the end, once it was evident that this was a scammer hard at work, trying to dupe me, I whisked away the happy thoughts and moved on.

So, yes, scammers are everywhere, and sadly, not even our law enforcement in British Columbia, the RCMP, can do much about it. It is buyer beware, and due diligence that must be practice when combing the ads of both printed and on-line media. Scammers are everywhere, and they have no moral values; they are human parasites in today’s world.

What was obvious at first for me was how awesome the ad was. It was too good to be true. The price for the dwelling was, unreal, to say the least. So moving forward, looking at the price, and how it was a deal, was the first sign of the scam. In a market that is flush with little competition, where prices were outrageous, seeing a deal that was unbelievably fifty precent below market value, was a dead giveaway. But I kept going with the email exchanges anyway, hoping that this could be the real deal, but doubting it more and more as time went on. Added to this, all utilities were included, even cable and Internet. Yes, he was going to pay for my Internet! My B.S. meter/detector was pointing off the scale now.

The second warning sign came in the form of how fast the acceptance was, and the rush to move to the actual rental agreement form. I should also point out that the replies I received were typed in very poor English, almost to the point that this person was using a spell-checker, while doing “cut and paste” chunks of phrases from other emails. The poor grammar, and ward choice, coupled with flawless paragraphs in the same email proved that this scammer was luring several victims at once. Yes, I had one section where he was speaking to me as a female. Not to mention how basic the rental agreement was, and how little information I had to give, I laughed when he added that to the text of  the email–no attachment or signature in return. It was obvious that all I needed was a pulse, to prove that I was alive, and money, to give to the scammer.

Third, was when I asked to see the place first before I would give out any money for the damage deposit. Now this is where things got murky. In British Columbia, the laws are different from other jurisdictions about what a land lord can, or cannot, ask for as far as money, information and types of contracts rental agreements. To pay for “site unseen” is, well, not the proper way of doing business here in Canada. So when I asked to have the address of the dwelling before I would consider paying with any money, the answer was no: “pay first, then you get the keys” was the reply. The exchange was to priceless. First was the Trans Union Money address in the Untied States, and then the promise of the keys and receipts delivered to me by Fedex. Then was a possible visit, once I was moved in, to see how I would enjoy my new home.

I stopped my conversation with David, the scammer. He never bothered to continue as well. It all stopped as it began. However, I could imagine him waiting for his next prey, another unsuspecting person searching for a place to live here in British Columbia with his deceptive ad.  All I could do was hope that his ad be taken down after my complaint and rid the net of this parasite for about thirty seconds.

Please use your head when shopping on-line, or from printed media, especially about renting. If it seems to good to be true, than it will be a scammer hard at work ready to take your money. Do your research, and please report these ads to the appropriate authorities once you have determined them to be scammers.

Above the Clouds in Never Ever Land

This post was a long time coming. As most Canadians know, the price of a house is way beyond the average wage earner now, especially here in the Lower Mainland and surrounding Vancouver area. As money from Banks gets cheaper, with super low mortgage rates, and the supposed Off-Shore buyers, the prices for a house have gone passed the clouds. The effect is not just here in the lower part of British Columbia, but have spread everywhere, where there are meaningful services and work. The North Coast, for example, has also seen its share of higher real estate prices, just like the South, but not as strong, yet. I was doing some searching on-line, and saw something disturbing, in my opinion. 

Buying a house up North seems to be relatively easier than here in the Vancouver area, with almost a two-third difference, but I noticed that the rent rates are almost in tune with each other. As a good friend told me, gouging seems to be the flavour almost everywhere in British Columbia, as both job and house seekers alike scramble to get their share of the pie. Sure, makes sense, if everyone cranks up the rent, hey, that is a good thing for home owners, right? Now it seems that everywhere there is a house shortage…, or is there?

I say no! There are lots of homes to be lived in for everyone, but who has the money to live in one when rent rates have to keep in pace with the mortgages. It seems you need a 70k plus per year job to keep pace with the housing markets. So, if you’re not a drug dealer, C.E.O. of a off-shore corporation, have rich parents, or won the lottery, then where are you getting your money from?

This goes into my next question: what happens when the prime lending rate bounces back? I mean, a full on gain of say, five percent, by the Bank of Canada? Market crash, as the big correction take place? The bubble explodes and prices tumble? Something tells the Bank of Canada will not let this happen, unless…

The crash of ’06 seems to teach us a lesson that we are all greedy, and some more than other’s, when money is at play. The United States taught us that it is not just the head of fish that rots first, but the whole body at the some time. Canada follows the U.S. lead well, although there are more ridged rules in place to prevent financial institutions in Canada from imploding the market from this type of mismanagement, we are on the path in my opinion. But I think Canada is just a decade behind the U.S., and we only out lasted the impending melt-down with these rules, but we will get there.

At my work, I am tied directly to the housing market. I see people doing renovations, upgrades and complete construction projects, and the do-it-yourself-er. I see the cost of those materials going up, and cost of labour climbing even higher. The race to upgrade the house for the already set homeowner to cash in on the white hot market has created it own super local economy. Sadly retail has also become a race to bottom, as customers demand the lowest prices, and competition make the profit margin that much thinner. This leaves the worker at a huge disadvantage now–where to live?

The Growing Homeless Problem

Each day, as I drive to work, I see them, the homeless. In the field, along 64th Avenue, as I drive over the overpass above the railway tracks off from Glover Road in Langley, Township, huddled among the low bushes are tarps and sheets of plastic used as tents. Strewn along the bushes and tents are shopping buggies and bicycles, some with baby trailers attached, and most are adorned with boxes and makeshift saddle bags designed for hauling heavy items and personal belongings. Sometimes I see them, but mostly I just see the small tent community in groups on the vacant field.

During the work week I see the RCMP, their cars parked along the road, officers with gloves on, walking or huddled in the middle of this field. Near their cars, sits a pile of plastic and a circle of shopping carts, just thrown into a large heap waiting for pick-up to the landfill. But more often that not, the tent community returns. Each morning, its members pack up and start their day, leaving only a small group of tents behind. Those are the tents that get taken down, and their occupants taken away.

It is hard to count their numbers. If I go by the rule that there is one occupant to one tent, then I would say there are at least twenty people living there. Then the question I ask, is twenty too many? Are there more? Are they the same people returning each day.

The vacant land is up for sale. It is prime real estate for commercial use. Like all land development around here in Langley, the market is hot, and options for cheap housing are almost non-existent. Affordably and housing are heard most often now by special interest groups, and some say we have reached a crises point. Government is hard to pin down as to how much help they are willing to offer the homeless. Perhaps if there are homeless people sleeping on this vacant land, then Government has failed?

Regardless, the homeless are there, and they are not going to go away. If the RCMP do keep them out, then it seems to me that the homeless will simply find another vacant field to stay the night in.

Anyway, that is what I see every day I drive to my work.

The Possibility of Buying a Home!

Today is a bit of a mile stone: I reached my goal of a set amount in my savings. This means that I can, for the first time in my life, even consider the possibility of joining the exclusive club of free hold land owners. I am not talking about condominiums, strata or lease properties, which seem to be flooding the markets (and no one wants) but rather, owning the dirt under your feet land, with a house that has a foundation and driveway. The catch, it is not in the Lower Mainland, but still in British Columbia. I have no glorious job that yields a six figure pay cheque, or am I a member of high ranking criminal organization, but rather a low wage hourly worker, who somehow manages to scrape out an existence, honestly, with both hands. For this, where I work and currently rent, I cannot afford the land.

“The land owner is the highest status a commoner can hold in Canada,” an old friend once told me long ago. And he is right, in general terms. 

When I went into the Bank today, and asked for my balance, a pleasant smile came from the wonderful woman behind the desk as she scribe out the dollar amount onto the back of my receipt. She handed it to me, and I smiled back, saying, “Thank you!” It was a wonderful feeling seeing that number. I worked hard for it.

For now, I will keep going with it, keeping the money in the Bank while I continue to work, keeping my plans on track. More is better in the world of greed and gouging, so I will continue to keep adding my earned money to the account, knowing that at any time as soon as I see an opportunity, I can jump on it.

Politics

It is about 2:00am, and I am ready to end the day (I work afternoons by the way). I just thought I would type a few words about today, and what is going on South of the border from my perspective. I try hard not to get too involved in other countries’ political affairs, but today is different as I see the voting U.S. results have yet again shocked me. Yup, it looks like Trump is in; will the world as we know it—end?

So, Trump. Well… what will this mean? My first thought is, will the world economies collapse and take us all with it. But then this probably will not happen right-a-way. Like our Rob Ford here in Canada, Trump maybe all talk and no action on matters that will affect us around the world, and with his record of “foot-in-mouth” and flip-flopping, I can see many issues going off in weird directions, which would probably amount to the same old State that has always been. Though I kind of ponder at the idea of the U.S. building a wall around itself. I think if the “Iron Curtain” from the Russian-Soviet era when I heard Trump talk about the “Wall” between it and Mexico. Walls are the opposite of two-way streets, as they not only stop what comes in, but block what goes out too. And what will the U.S. do without all that cheep labour? I can see everything getting more expensive, especially with charging high taxes on imported goods from China.

I noticed the shock in the Stock Markets as the Eastern markets start to open. The CBC news is saying that markets are jolted with the U.S. elections results, and the reaction is very negative. We will have to see how far this goes. Hey, maybe gasoline prices will come back down! Sweet!

I just watched Trump’s victory speech. I am some what surprised. He actually sounds “presidential,” as opposed to a man flailing insults, shooting from the hip with his words. Words from his Teleprompter I bet.

Why Having No Neighbours is So Nice

Listening to my ex-neighbour who moved to another neighbourhood, telling me about his new problems, makes me appreciate the peace and quiet of my little corner of the universe. I could not live in a trailer park, or condo, or any other place that has people crammed so close together. When I thought about his tails of the weird and wacky people that have moved close to him, I realized that half of his trouble were his alone: he wants his privacy, yet craves the social interactions at the same time.

Sure, having people around is human. We humans like to live in colonies, families, and sometimes in metropolitan centres and cities. I even heard this called “human nature” while taking my undergrad classes university. Ultimately, we take on a mate, and raise children, and build our own families. In turn, we live close to populated areas for jobs, schools and stores, which give us securities.  We in our homes, towns and cities, governments to give us Rule of Law and build roads, schools and keep us safe. Some how, in this human utopia, chaos can ensue.

For my friend, in his trailer park, the mix was spoilt over time. Drug users, which are common among low income sites, were part of his problem as they moved in, but also tenants who wanted the joy and happiness that they claimed of their properties, also interfered with his peace and enjoyment. Then there were the whores and prostitutes that occupied the park as well; many are also drug users, and bring their own troubles. The neighbourhood is now labelled as a haven for lawlessness. Law enforcement even fears venturing into the area, and unless they have to, it is with body armour.

As I look across the farm fields and forests from my front door, I am happy. I live where many would not choose to. My neighbours are far enough from me that I like them. I can leave my windows open, and car unlocked and barbecue out on my patio without a chain. Good ridden to the trailer park trash; my friend, I feel for you–honest.

Fort Langley’s Little Bumpy Problem

What can I say, Fort Langley has a parking problem. This post is more of a rant, than a piece on constructive criticism. I offer no solution and point my finger at no one, only offering a few bits of observations from the twenty plus years I have lived here.

Have you driven down Glover Road, going through Fort Langley lately? It is not a pretty sight. The road, for about four blocks, is like driving on one great big—never ending—endless series of speed bumps. In fact, I think my exhaust system on my vehicle is ready to fall off because of it.

This is stupid. It has been over half a year now since the construction of underground power lines were installed (which by the way, I think was a complete waist of time and money, and I am glad I don’t live there any more to pay those taxes). Next to parking, this is my biggest gripe about the village.

I still have to drive through twice a day, as I go to and from work. It is by far the shortest route for me. Anyway, that is my rant for today. Hurry up and fix the damn road! Grrrrrrr

Laughing at Technology: Working Like a Snail

I am sitting at the department desk, waiting for the network to connect and upload my freshly imputed data to the database, so that I can complete my task before I move onto the next. I wait, tapping my pen on the desk. Time ticks on by, yet the workstation’s monitor show very little progress as the little circular icon spins round and round. We call this the “Wheel of Death,” in that you will eventually die of old age waiting for the software to complete each task. Then suddenly the circular icon disappears, and you stare at the monitor, gripping the keyboard in anticipation, but you are still waiting. Then the circular icon reappears, and you feel like you have just been sucker punched, as all hope fades away. You wait…, again.

I swear, at least an hour a day is spent waiting for the network to connect at my work, or data is complied and saved. The time spent on this, when I could be working, whether on some menial task, or actually on working paper work, is in my mind, huge. And when the whole network goes down, we then go into “stack and pile” mode of incoming merchandise, knowing that later on, the mad frenzy of processing the paperwork will make a bad day even worse.

I feel so helpless. I am qualified to work on I.T. systems, but my hired duty at this job is for labour, not my skills and talents. I see the problems, yet I cannot fix them. Locally, I can do minor fixes, like reconfiguring the workstation, or making sure the twelve year old software and operating system is configured correctly. I also do the mandatory reboot once a day to clean up the digital imperfections due to the operating system’s poor engineering. But this if far from enough.

I bite my lip, hold my breath. There is no use saying anything. To cheer myself up, I can only see the advantage: I get paid to stand and watch the “wheel of death” at my work. I laugh at technology.

Department Move

It has been nearly five weeks now. Five weeks since the move from night-shift to days, working in a new department, a move that I very much wanted. With change comes challenges, and joining a new team comes finding that new fit comes with anticipation and complications. Working with the new team has pretty much gone as I anticipated.

I knew, going forward, that not all the team members would embrace “the new guy” amongst their space. Old habits, mixing with new blood, will be a challenge for the weeks to come. Already in the last five weeks, I have witnessed the stubbornness by staff as they try to keep their routines,and leave the undesirable work for me. Since I was hired for my skills, for one staff member, I have become a threat in the sense that I exceed the skill level of some tasks, and easily jumped onboard in the workflow, keeping up. Though I laughed as two members peppered me with questions about myself, probing, then relaying factitious/distorted versions of my words to the Manager—who is a good friend of mind. We had a good laugh. And yes, I have names, I know who you are. Nothing like jealous people burning their bridges so quickly.

My new department will have lots of changes in the coming months. I was given an outline of what to expect in the days and weeks ahead. Most of this information I have kept to myself, as requested, so who knows what, or where I will be once the changes take place. I am not worried, as new opportunities are always be around. But for the senior staff, they feel they have been “betrayed,” or “disposed of,” by the corporation, as they have some of the information that I have, and see my move into the department as part of those feelings. I say, “get over it,” because it is going to happen whether I am here, or not.

I have no troubles with embracing new responsibility and change in this case. However, for some of the senior staff, these new responsibilities mean a new level surveillance by management, and they are resisting this, even telling me that I must take this stance along with them. There is a world beyond the walls of the department, and if my fellow co-workers cannot see this, then they miss out on the big picture—at their cost. Remember it is easier for me to embrace change, then for those who have old habits of their daily routines.

Thankfully the good out weighs the bad by a long shot. I am very happy, almost grateful under what is happening in the global market place economy. The pay may not be that great, but I would rather be doing this, than being homeless with no income.

The Weekend Wrap Up

Sadly I have been too busy to sit down and do some serious typing on my weblog. I have so much to say, yet to little time to say it in, and now I fear I have a pattern developing. So, here is my “filler” post, to tie me over until I can sit down really write again. Work, of course, has been the number one reason for my lack of time for this website. And a close second has been the need of attention to my everyday life, like plumbing and paper work. So much, so little time to take care of them all.

Sheep in Fort langley BC July 3 2016 Weblog Image

Anyway, last night we had a really nasty storm blow over my place about 2:00am that started with a huge downpour that lasted for something like 30 minutes, then the lightening and thunder kicked in. The whole storm seem to have parked itself right over top of my place for nearly two hours. In that time, a near by tree was hit by lightening, shattering the top one third of it into pieces, and that lighting strike I though was going to blow the windows right off my walls when the thunder’s shock wave reached me. Yes, the power did go out, but only for a little while. I could not sleep while all of that was going on.

Work, well, what can I say. Just when I thought that the busy season was over, and we were going to slip into that nice time of year when business slows down and we can catch our breath again, another wave of customers blows in, this time buying our summer goods. It is like the spring season lever left. Sure, a damn good sign of a healthy economy in my line of work, but physically, I am wearing out. As a rule I do not like talking about work, especially here on my weblog, but is does consume nearly a half to a third of my daily life, so I cannot escape its effects on me. I am going to hold back and not type one more letter on the subject. Period.

More pressing issues: the up coming Canada Post strike/lockout that may start on Monday. I laughed when in the space of seven days I received all of my mail that I normally receive in a calendar month. I got my G.S.T. cheque on the fifth, when it was issued for the fifth of July. That was freaky. My Internet bill also arrived on the fifth, which usually does not get sent to me until after the fifteenth. And my 64MB USB thumb drive that I ordered on Evil Bay, seemed to have arrived way before I normally receive stuff from China. Does imposted stuff really arrive early, and the Post Office sits on them while in Canada just because? I also loaded my pre paid Visa that I use to pay online bills with too at the Post Office where I got my Visa Card from. I normally like to use my pre paid than a actual credit card—it seems to be safer that way I feel. I trust no one online when it comes to money transactions. Anyway, I am all loaded up with some money for bills as long as Canada Post does not do its labour dispute for anytime longer than a month. But I seem to be good for the next four weeks.

Plumbing. I am not a plumber, and I have a plumbing issue. My bath tub seems to be plugged. It started on Monday, when I noticed that the water seemed taking a little longer to drain out. But by Thursday, I was standing ankle deep in water after my daily shower. Now it is completely plugged. I tried using a plastic drain snake. That did not do anything. My next tool was a three metre metal snake, and that only did a little to unplug it. Tomorrow I am going to try a longer snake, one that has a more “pipe cleaner” attachment on it. Hopefully I can get that unplugged before Monday.

Awe yes, lots of paper work in the days to come for me. My battle with Revenue Canada still lingers. I have to also submit my MSP (Medical Health Care Tax) forms from my work’s insurance, which covers those monthly payments. Luckily I can do that online once I get my employee I.D. number. I hope they do not send that my Canada Post! Still waiting on that part.

Well, anyway, time to go and get on with my busy life. Until my next post, hopefully sooner than later.