Buddhism · human interest · inspiration · motivational · Nepal · spiritual

The Buddhist Art of Getting Scammed

I remember the day clearly when one of the monks from Kopan Monastery, where I stayed for 30 days in retreat, told us that “when things start going wrong in your life it means your past actions are ripening in your current life”. Now, in no way am I going to try to relay or feel comfortable treating the topic of Karma in this short post. But, I am inspired to tell you what happened to me today. Let’s just say I’m really trying to cherish the message I learned at the monastery of how to truly:

Cherish misfortunes and see them as blessings and lessons. In fact, congratulate myself for the problems that come my way.

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Nepal – Kopan Monastery

When you’re dealt with a problem or a conflict, how do you react? Like most of us, you  either react to it with anger, impatience, vengeance or pure ignorance. How many of you actually welcome the said problem.  During our lessons at the monastery in Nepal, we were urged to “congratulate” ourselves when something wrong happened. For example, if you lost a job, it must be a blessing in disguise. If you broke your knee, well it was meant to be broken.  That just means we are paying for our past non-virtuous actions. Of course, if you are not a believer of Buddhist philosophy, this will likely not resonate and you’re probably thinking, “what a fool!”

But, let’s say you were scammed, like I was today. This morning, I woke up and took my sister to the airport. Then I went to yoga with a friend. I left  the studio quite energetic, empowered and excited to be productive. So, I started looking and learning about how to incorporate, apply for federal tax ID numbers, open a business account, etc. I succeeded in my research. Or, so I thought? Note: This is all new to me! The learning curve is super steep.

I google searched IRS + Federal Tax ID + EIN. The first website that came up, which included the IRS logo I clicked on and gave my information quite liberally. I was doing this all on my phone, so I didn’t really pay close attention. I had opened the IRS page and said scam page, as well.

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Not knowing that one gets a Federal Tax ID for free through the IRS and cognizant of the fact that Uncle Sam has the tendency of ripping us off in any way possible, I moved forward by entering my credit card number for a charge of about $249. Remember, this whole time I’m thinking I’m on the IRS website. I was quite excited for having accomplished this task. I got an email immediately with my new ID number, quite legit with a PDF from the www.irs.gov. However, the signature of the email contained the third party agent who basically used my information to fill in what would’ve been the same application process on the official government site. I still hadn’t realized I had been scammed and thought it was normal procedure to pay such a hefty fee for this service. I went to the bank to open up an account under Pack Your Mat. The banker, quite harshly and rudely told me that “I have been ripped off”.  This immediately hurt my ego and pride. How so, had I, a careful educated, internet savvy guy, been ripped off? He mentioned that it’s usually free to get a Tax ID number. That moment, my first reaction was to be upset with him on how he dealt with breaking the news to me. But again, just a stab on my pride. I’d been a fool. A fool who just gave $250 to scammers. I’d been religiously scammed. Multiple calls and emails to this third party agent, I found no resolution. Reading up on forums, I realized that they are a legit third party agency who have done this to thousands of people.

So naturally, I went back to the lessons I learned earlier this year when my subtenant “screwed me” by not paying rent, damaging my apartment plumbing and stealing stuff from me. And, I reflected.  Here are some of the questions I asked myself to try to deal with all this, at least temporarily, to not lose my shit.

  1. Was I perhaps a wealthy merchant in my past life who financially screwed people? Maybe! Again, you really have to have faith in this hypothesis that your mind occupies different vessels from beginningless time. I truthfully can’t imagine that, but, who knows maybe?
  2. Do I just accept this as my karma ripening. Does this mean I’m paying all the dues for all my past non-virtuousness?
  3. Do I just accept that the individuals behind this company are accumulating bad merits with these actions and they’ll be dealt their justice in due time?
  4. How do I not get angry and be patient? Well, this is easy. The credit card company said they’d try to resolve the charge, but it’s not guaranteed and we have to wait till the transaction fully clears. So what is the point of getting all anxious now. Instead, I decided to write. It really helps me deal with all this and realize that, this too, is quite meaningless. There is no need to waste energy on it. 
  5. Do I just view the emptiness of money and just say whatever again, it’s just money?

The list and questions can go on. But, my intention with this post is to put these questions out there. Secondly, it helps me rationalize and decide how I want to deal with this. Finally, I just want to inform you about the dangers of online services out there. I never thought I would be victim to a scam of this caliber. But, ignorance really gets the best of us sometimes. I am not a business man. I never have been. This is all new and I do have a great support system around me who’s helping me. But, remember…just because it comes up as the first item on a google search does not mean it’s legit.

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Yup, even if it has an imitation logo by the IRS, just be extra careful. Crossing fingers, I can dispute this charge. If not, I guess it’s just my karma ripening and I just have to be mindful and learn the Buddhist art of getting scammed, again.

 

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