I have difficult news. This week, I received multiple phone calls from a number I didn’t recognize. When I answered, there was a recorded message declaring that Australian Border Force had intercepted a package addressed to me and had, as a result, issued a warrant for my arrest. I don’t have anything on order currently and, despite the impending threat to my liberty, my first reaction was to feel a flush of excitement and to wonder what the package was. Which is probably not what they were aiming for. After the initial excitement at the prospect of getting mail, it then occurred to me that this could be a scam.
I feel I can be forthright here without fear of offending anyone – scammers are Olympic-grade idiots. What kind of moron tries to scam people during a pandemic? Ignoring the fact it’s totally unconscionable, telling someone they’re at risk of being incarcerated and may lose the freedom to move about as they wish really lacks punch in the middle of a lockdown. It sounds more like the status quo with a change of view. And, on the upside, you no longer have to worry about cooking and laundry.
Secondly, I doubt very much that law enforcement agencies are prone to announcing their intention to arrest by way of a voicemail message. They’re far more likely to ‘DM’ you on Instagram. It’s not my area of expertise, but I always assumed those kinds of agencies placed a significant premium on the element of surprise. In my mind, they’re more likely to kick the gate in when you least expect it instead of calling to make an appointment. That said, I don’t have a front gate to speak of; more a driveway. Maybe leaving a message is what you do when there’s no gate available to kick.
This brings me to my next point. There’s no point trying to scam people if your central message is so terrifying that those receiving it hang up instantly and bury the phone in the backyard. I, for one, am having real difficulties remembering precisely where I buried mine in an adrenaline-fueled frenzy. I’d call myself to try and find it, save that I have made the fundamental strategic error of always keeping my phone on ‘silent’, meaning that I can only rely on it vibrating to have any idea where it is. Worse still, I don’t have another phone to call it from, meaning I’d have to use a pay phone which is about eight hundred metres away. I could call my mobile and race home, but there’s little chance that it’d still be shaking by the time I arrived.
Whilst I’m ninety nine percent certain that these messages are the work of scammers, I find myself unable to round up and put doubt entirely out of my mind. What package are they referring to? Has my on-line shopping history resulted in unwanted attention from the authorities? The last thing I bought was a jar opener. Or, to be more specific, I bought three jar openers.
I can see why this would provoke suspicion. A jar opener is innocent enough, but what would anyone want with threejar openers? Many’s the international crime cartel that has been founded on less. Decades from now, when my intelligence file is finally declassified, I’ll discover all the top-level meetings that were prompted by my seemingly perverse decision to get three jar openers. In truth, I thought I’d buy spares for members of my family. But Amazon, who otherwise read your thoughts and go through your bins, isn’t interested in that level of detail.
But beyond my own checkered purchasing past, there’s the issue of the current package to consider. What could it contain that would result in a warrant for my arrest? There’s little I need. So I searched my thoughts and decided there was just one thing I longed for from overseas – sponge cake. That’s because I have a serious sponge cake deficit in my life right now.
Once, sponge cake was the centre of my Universe. It was, without doubt, the centerpiece of every major family event growing up. My grandmother and all her sisters were total sponge-masters; baking ninjas who took great pride in being able to produce a high-quality sponge for any occasion. I’ve long aspired to be a sponge black belt in my own right, but am yet to do anything about it. But it’s made me think that I no longer have those people to rely on. Perhaps one of the overseas relatives intuited my needs and baked me a sponge, never dreaming it would be intercepted at sea and taken in for questioning.
I’ve noticed my father has, over the past few years, returned to sponge cake. Like any family, we flirted with cheesecake, mud cake and everything in between, but more recently he’s been buying sponge from the supermarket in half-acre quantities. Whilst big on volume, it’s simply not the same.
To Australian Border Force; if, indeed, you have issued a warrant for my arrest, I’ve already handcuffed myself to save you the trouble. Mind you, I’ll admit I’m finding it difficult to unload the dishwasher, so if you could get a wriggle on, I’d appreciate it. And for those who might be concerned for my welfare, feel free to send me something whilst I’m stuck in the Big House. A sponge would do nicely.